The Emotional Side of Efficiency

Getting a cash withdrawal from your ATM may not require a box of Kleenex, but some banking activities actually do carry emotional weight. According to a recent study by ING Bank, emotions play a vital role in certain banking transactions.[1] This study not only exposes the complexity of many technical transactions, but it also reveals the emerging collaborative role of IT.

The ING Bank study on feelings and banking transactions was a joint study conducted by the Chief Marketing Officer’s department at ING Bank in collaboration with their IT department. Both groups worked together to analyze 16 different emotions that might play a role in customer transactions. Emotions such joy, pride, anger, boredom and even contempt could impact a transaction.

This model of collaboration vividly demonstrates the emerging strategic role of IT in today’s business world. As I’ve stated here many times in the past, IT departments provide more than just a technical/technology role within the company. IT brings critical thinking skills, project management tools and a range of other skills that can be utilized to drive business goals within a given organization. The ING Bank study reveals how IT can help marketing execute and evaluate research studies on given themes within a company.

The ING study also reveals the emotional side of technical transactions. With the growth of technological tools in banking, healthcare, education and other sectors of culture, the human side of engagement can sometimes be overlooked.

I published an earlier post entitled “Humanizing Healthcare Through Technology” where I highlighted the challenge some doctors are facing trying to hold together new technological tools with the need for personal engagement. Dr. Paul A. Heineken at the San Francisco VA Medical Center trains young physicians to remember “technology must assist in caring for the person and not distract from the person.”

ING Bank uncovers that banking transactions are not simply technical transactions, but can be emotionally intense. While the study confirms that many transactions like a typical ATM engagement remain fairly non-emotional, other more complex transactions involved a range of emotions. A mortgage, for example, is a high risk engagement that can involve a range of extreme emotions such as fear, hope, and nervousness.

Banks must concentrate on the whole customer experience including the technical as well as the emotional. Improving efficiency and effectiveness must also include improving trust and customer experience. The results of this study not only apply to banking but should suggest implications for healthcare and other industries. Businesses must become better adept at the whole customer experience and not simply just the technical or the emotional.

As Van Kemenade writes, “In the future, CIOs and CMOs will need a shared agenda that blends the art of marketing with the science of technology.” Success will require “taking into account the emotions customers bring to the transactions and put technology to work in creating great customer experiences.”

[1] Ron Van Kemenade. “Efficiency Isn’t Enough.” CIO, November 12, 2012, p. 14.