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Innovation goes beyond technology, says DPN

Innovation goes beyond technology, says DPN

While technological advancements continue apace, one brokerage has highlighted the increasing need for personalised customer service.

DPN, a global financial services and property investment company headquartered in Sydney, is unfazed by the so-called “threat of technology”, using it instead as the foundation to support the delivery of a unique customer experience.

“If you take guidance from [brands] like Apple, having human-centred design at the core of what you do is important. And technology is only one factor. The customer experience [features] and programs that you overlay on top of the software is what innovation is about,” DPN founder and managing director Sam Khalil told Mortgage Business.

He noted that technologies that enable automation or improve efficiencies for financial services businesses are not particularly exciting for the end customer; they expect it as part of their overall product or service experience.

A memorable experience requires going beyond the basics, Mr Khalil insisted.

“Technology itself will become commoditised. What we mean by that is, how much excitement would a customer have about doing an online application for? How long is that going to last? Do people say, have you seen my latest bank application on my iPhone bank app? It’s not really a bragging point,” the DPN managing director explained.

“While we feel those things are important, it’s no different to why people eventually use email and get their website set up. It will become a functional element to facilitate ease of service... Innovation needs be around customer experience and owning the customer relationship [beyond] just the transaction of getting that home loan.

“Yes, you want it to be efficient. Yes, you want ease of use. But there isn’t too massive a gap between most of the major lenders’ banking platforms. You can do on a Westpac app what you can on an ANZ app.”

In a bid to control the customer experience across the lifetime of a loan, DPN recently began offering its own branded home loans, after securing an agreement with Adelaide Bank that enables DPN to approve loans of up to $2 million.

Explaining the strategy behind the move, Mr Khalil said that it is difficult for brokerages to control the entire customer journey because they are dependent on lender and aggregator systems.

“We still do wholesale broking, but what we wanted to do is be able to approve products in-house, create a unique customer experience, unique packaging and branding around finance,” Mr Khalil said.

“When you’re at the mercy of the support and credit teams of the lenders… the problem with that, at a surface level, is that it affects your brand.”

DPN is currently in the process developing its own technology, including its own CRM.

The managing director explained that aggregator CRMs sometimes offer “limited” APIs, which do not fit with DPN’s business model. For example, he argued that they often restrict the company’s ability to deliver on its various service offerings across finance broking, property management, insurance and other areas of business due to issues around interoperability.

Mr Khalil added that, thanks to advances in cloud infrastructure and other technologies of scale, it’s now easier and cheaper to build applications from the ground up, especially if off-the-shelf products clash with the brokerage’s business model.

[Related: Technology ‘critical’ in era of heightened scrutiny]

Innovation goes beyond technology, says DPN
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