Local, personal or digital - do we have to choose?
One year ago, we asked ourselves the question of whether it is possible to build relationships through the screen of a smartphone. We found ourselves in a situation where it was clear that the pandemic would force us to see each other on our webcams rather than in person. Many of us wondered how co-operation with colleagues, dialogues with customers and personal relationships would be affected by a lack of such meetings. Not least of these concerns was building up new relationships. As it turned out, our worries were unfounded. Overall during the past year, I have mainly encountered people who have been positively surprised at how new tools have helped, rather than hurt, co-operation. Customers, too, have reaped the benefits of more personal meetings now that advisors have greater availability via the digital sphere – wherever and whenever. This positive trend is reinforced by a survey carried out by the Swedish Internet Foundation, with 8 out of 10 respondents stating that working from home has gone well. While there are, of course, downsides to working from home, video conferencing, new digital tools and an increased understanding of how to collaborate remotely mean that working from home and digital meetings are here to stay.
For us – who have spent the last 150 years building long-term, personal relationships – the question we now face is how to translate the lessons we have learned about physical meetings into a digital context. Because there are very few who believe that video conferencing is where this all ends. Relationships are built up in their own context. This is long since well-proven. Earlier examples, such as gaming and dating, show the importance of common goals to the formation and success of relationships, regardless of whether they are physical or digital. Relationships are based on trust, and are created by delivering on promises through consideration, empathy and dialogue. It is up to us to show that this is something that the banking sector is also capable of succeeding in.