ABOVE & BEYOND

Qatar 2021 | FINANCE | INSIDE PERSPECTIVE

Dr. Leonie Ruth Lethbridge, EGM and Chief Operating Officer of Commercial Bank of Qatar, outlines the steps taken by Commercial Bank to build momentum for a new phase of sustainable growth as part of its vision to be the bank of choice in Qatar.

Dr. Leonie Ruth Lethbridge
BIOGRAPHY

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

There are many reasons to look forward to 2021 with increased optimism. For consumers and businesses alike, the vastly accelerated pace of digitization of banking and commerce that has occurred worldwide in 2020 is one of them. The digital service carries the imperative of a highly intuitive, convenient, safe, and se-cure client experience. The business winners and losers of the future will be differentiated on this point.

So far in 2020, five of six of Commercial Bank's clients have increased their usage of digital channels. A key question is the extent to which this COVID-19-acceler-ated change is temporary, or whether expectations for convenience, ease of use and safety have been met, driving more permanent changes. The answer: seven out of 10 of Commercial Bank clients expect to use physical channels less in the future.

This trend reflects a commitment where providing exceptional customer experience is key to the bank—the customer is at the heart of Commercial Bank's strategy. Delivering on this objective requires focus and sustained effort: embedding the orientation in the bank's DNA takes time to instill and certainly cannot be instantaneously created in a crisis. Living up to our belief that “everything is possible," Commercial Bank has focused relentlessly on delivering its five-year strategic plan to build momentum for a new phase of sustainable growth. The foundation of our ambition to be the best bank in Qatar and the Qatari bank of choice is the five C's of Commercial Bank: corporate earnings quality, client experience, creativity and innovation, culture, and compliance.

The entire bank's agenda revolves around ensuring an excellent journey for its customers, as well as investing in innovation and cutting-edge technologies to enhance this experience even further. With the right, highly agile operating model, delivering a great customer experience is fundamental to competitiveness and to shareholder outcomes, rather than undermining returns. For this reason, Commercial Bank has invested in its innovation capabilities, its teams, and culture and will continue to do so.

A positive banking experience is based on what clients themselves see as important and embed within their lives. Accordingly, we measure the adoption of products and services and fine-tune them in ways that meet our customers' expectations and fulfill their aspirations. This however is not sufficient. Building strong relationships and proactively engaging clients via multiple channels is key—listening is an essential component in optimizing experience. Acting on this feedback has enabled a frictionless customer experience: we have equipped our mobile application with face recognition and fingerprint biometric options and have enabled the adoption of Swift Global Payments Innovation (SWIFT gpi), a new standard for cross-border payments, paving the way for fast, safe, and traceable high value international money transfers.

Customer experience is also dynamic. In recent crises, banks and financial institutions were widely regarded as a main contributor to these crises. In 2020, banks have instead proven to be major solution providers. At the height of COVID-19, when people were required to stay at home and abide by governmental restrictions, the right customer experience became crucial for the sustainability and continuity of economies facing into the global pandemic. This required a scalable, digital experience primarily based on ease of use and transparency, and most importantly delivering support for customers in distress, or those unfamiliar with the digital banking world.

In response to COVID-19, Commercial Bank worked quickly to enable customers across all social categories to bank safely, simply, securely, and efficiently under pandemic conditions. Our foundation-al Five-Cs and principles enabled us to organize around these imperatives and adapt swiftly under pandemic conditions, as exemplified by our direct response to the needs of the nation in devising a set of first-of-its-kind services for Qatar in just three weeks. We have launched CB Household PayCard, an innovation that allows customers to manage their house-hold workers' salaries and remittances and lets workers transact and shop safely; CB Smart Payroll that helps our business customers manage their employees' pay-roll and remittances online without the need of involving the employees; CB Pay, the first mobile wallet in Qatar that lets customers tap and pay with their mobile phones; and more.

In 2021, we anticipate clients and financial institutions will continue to need to be both highly resilient and agile, including in responding to global economic uncertainties and to capture new opportunities. Commercial Bank will continue to work with clients in helping them with aspects that add value to them personally and to their businesses by deploying more efficient operating models that leading-edge digital banking can enable.