Personalisation has become an important aspect of creating a great customer experience. Customers now expect seamless personalised experiences when dealing with their bank and if they aren’t satisfied with their current institution, an alternative provider is only a click away.
The move to greater personalised experiences has gained momentum during COVID. Banks are looking to explore new ways to connect with their customers and add value in an ever changing, complex and disruptive consumer landscape. Banks are leveraging personalisation to boost customer loyalty and business growth.
Anita Parer, founder and CEO of Kyte Consulting, observes, “The global pandemic has accelerated digital banking and has forced banks to create more effective and efficient ways to meet their customers’ needs. Customers not only crave but require personalised experiences in all their daily digital interactions and banking is no different. These experiences are based on delivering digital speed, simplicity and understanding context.”
Offering personalised experiences, tailored to the individual needs of customers, can demonstrate that the bank understands and knows its customers and that it values them. Zeb Drummond, head of customer operations at Gateway Bank, comments, “Personalisation is so critical because it demonstrates that you actually know someone. And this makes customers, particularly long-term customers who have been with us for 10, 15 or more years, feel valued.”
Parer adds, “Banking customers increasingly want access to information about their finances that can help them make more informed decisions about their money and financial goals. They expect to be known in terms of their spending and saving patterns, lifestyle, and potential life goals”.
“Financial Institutions can provide customers with contextually relevant actions to take, which will drive deeper engagement between customers and other digital banking features or products. Tools like budget trackers are overwhelmingly used by 99% Gen Z and 98% Millennial user groups. The budget trackers are viewed monthly, including spend forecasts and progress tracking against it”.
Companies that are perceived to be caring have the potential to engage and build greater loyalty with their customers. Drummond comments, “Every business has a desire to grow and expand. But that’s really difficult without customers who are advocates of the brand. Offering a personalised experience promotes customer advocacy which, in turn, drives referrals and word-of-mouth clientele.”
By anticipating customer needs and catering to them with personalised offerings and recommendations, financial institutions can enjoy a range of benefits including:
- Improved customer loyalty and retention
- Increased revenue from upsell and cross sell opportunities
- Reduced costs for acquiring new customers
- Loyal customers are cheaper to serve
Personalisation at scale across multiple channels
Personalised customer experiences require access and the ability to analyse large amounts of customer and historical data in real-time. From analysing this data it is possible to predict the future financial products or services customers might need as well as personalise product offerings and advice to each consumers’ unique situation or life stage.
Banks maintain plenty of data about their customers. They also have access to a range of new technology tools such as AI and machine learning to help collate and analyse this data. But to make this work they also need a holistic customer-centric strategy as Parer advises, “Although technology can help deliver a personalised experience, a holistic customer-centric strategy is required which looks at the entire customer lifecycle journey, all customer touch points, decision points, moments of truths, channels, wants and needs in each phase, emotional triggers, recommended next best step, etc”.
“Personalisation needs to be viewed against the entire customer lifecycle and touch points to tap into the consumer’s “moment of truth” which is a small window of opportunity to retain a customer, fix a problem, or up and cross sell. This includes online, in app, in branch location, or via the contact centre”.
Understanding the customer journey
For the Gateway Bank to offer personalise customer experiences really meant understanding the customer journey and that it can take many different paths. A year ago the Gateway Bank launched its Origins Platform which was part of the bank’s strategy to become more customer centric and to offer more personalised customer experiences. It entailed a major omni-channel and digital transformation project.
Drummond comments, “We wanted a platform where customers could engage with us whichever way it was easiest for them. So, if they wanted a home loan they could print out a PDF and send it to us. Or they could apply through our web portal or they could call us. They could start the application on one channel and finish it on another”.
“There’s a lot of talk about omnichannel. But it’s actually about understanding the customer journey and nurturing customers through the process, allowing them to interact with the bank in the way they’re most comfortable with, where we provide them with the advice and recommendations to help customers achieve their goals”
For customers, things need to work quickly and without friction. Communication needs to be relevant, through the right channels and at a time for their convenience. Parer states, “The customer should feel enabled and informed to make the right decisions about their financial situation. If there is a problem or they need to talk with someone, whether it is via a branch or a call centre, the person on the other end knows who they are, appreciates their loyalty, provides relevant services, and is empowered enough to go the extra mile”.
Drummond reflects on the power of a personalised experience to garner customer loyalty, “We have someone that works in our contact centre. Her name is Elizabeth. We’ll get feedback from time to time from one of our surveys that says, ‘I’ve dealt with Elizabeth for the last five years. I love speaking to her. Every time she is a delight to speak with.’ And that’s when we know, that’s when we know that customer is going to be with us for life. The customer feels a personal connection with not just Elizabeth, but also the organisation.
Data privacy vs personalisation
To provide highly personalised service, financial services must have a greater understanding of their customers’ needs, purchasing histories and preferences. In other words, they need to store and mine vast amounts of customer data. They need to analyse and act on that data so they can tailor the content and experiences they serve up to their customers.
“Use of personal information is a highly sensitive topic in the financial services industry”, says Parer. “As more and more consumers have increased awareness and anxiety on how their data is being used, marketers need to be extra diligent and ask the key question on what their promise and commitment of data use to their customers is”.
Financial institutions need to be transparent in the way they manage customer data and have strong policies and procedures in place to ensure it’s secure and handled properly. Helping customers understand the context for why the data is being collected and how it will be used will add to their acceptance.
According to Drummond negotiating between security, transparency and a personalised experience can be a tricky balancing act, “The financial services industry is heavily regulated. There are plenty of opportunities for potential abuse around data privacy or potential areas to fail customers. But on the other using data that gives insights into their behaviour and spending habits can provide real and substantial value for customers.
Creating personalised experiences will only become more important as customers increasingly come to expect a certain level of personalisation in their shopping experiences – banks and financial institutions included.