Staying Ahead in a Changing World

Felix Thomson

Content Executive

The Financial Services Forum

The survey results discussed in Still not connecting on pp30–33 show that Visa is streets ahead of all other major financial services brands in terms of the attributes that really matter to customers. By chance rather than design, we had already asked Christopher Rodrigues to reflect on his experiences since moving to Visa from Bradford and Bingley two years ago, and he explains here how understanding stakeholder views has become a crucial part of Visa’s business.
Rabbie Burns wrote that he wished God would “give us the gift to see ourselves as others see us”. It was a well-chosen request. Most of us spend much of our lives trying to master the skill. But in business selfawareness isn’t enough. You also need to see the world as others see it, for only then can you begin to master the skill of stakeholder management.
Understanding “what’s in it for me” from the perspective of your stakeholders allows you to begin the job of meeting customers’ needs in a way that they’ll appreciate.
For Visa, an association of twenty thousand member financial institutions, identifying the “customer” used to be quite straightforward. Visa was in the business of serving its member banks by creating products, services and technologies to build and advance their businesses. We worked closely with our bank customers, and that was all we had to do. It worked. In thirty years, we grew from a Californian credit card into a global payments system.
For most of that period, our view of the world looked like Figure 1. But, as we grew, our stakeholder set became much more complex. Today, Visa is the world’s largest electronic payment system. Our end-users are no longer just individuals and small businesses – we also count large corporations and governments as our customers. We engage actively with the merchants who accept Visa payment products around the world.
And, as we grew, we realized we needed to have an on-going dialogue with governments, regulators and consumer groups around the world, all of whom have legitimate interests in what the Visa system is and does.
Many of the people with whom we now interact in our extended family of stakeholders carry a Visa card issued by their bank. Historically, that was the extent of their contact with us. Today, we need to reach out to them as stakeholders as well as users.
It has become a lot more complicated to see the world as others see it when there are so many eyes to look through. But that’s the challenge – we need to balance the diverse needs of all our stakeholder groups and provide balanced solutions that, at the end of the day, benefit as many of them as possible.
To read the full article, please download the PDF above. 

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