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Banking in the modern world: It’s all about the customer

To succeed in the digital age, banks and other financial services providers must engage more deeply with their customers, personalising the experience to build loyalty.

To succeed in the digital age, banks and other financial services providers must engage more deeply with their customers, personalising the experience to build loyalty.

Small store owner holding a laptop



1st October 2015

Jerry Mulle

Author: Jerry Mulle

Engaging with banking customers to suceed in a digital age

To succeed in the digital age, banks and other financial services providers must engage more deeply with their customers, personalising the experience to build loyalty. The need for a powerful customer acquisition platform to underpin this engagement it paramount.

Customer satisfaction and trust have long been a key factor in maintaining the customer loyalty that drives revenues and reduces churn – but the digital revolution is driving its importance like never before.

In the past choice was limited and switching banks was difficult. Customers chose their nearest bank and stuck with them through thick and thin. They engaged face-to-face or over the phone, several times a month at most. They expected a good experience and banks had time and opportunity to deliver it personally.

Digital banking choices

But in today’s digital age the choice of banks and products is broader, switching is easy and customers engage with systems rather than people, sometimes many times a day and across multiple channels. Thanks to expectations set by tech leaders like Apple they expect each experience to be exceptional and the engagement compelling.

It’s a something the Which? Digital team calls ‘Effortless Simplicity’, an organising principle they discovered through research with their members and which drives them to create elegant, intuitive interfaces.

The ultimate experience is rich and personalised. It allows customers to tailor their experience to what they want, ensures interfaces are easy-to-use and supplies information that is timely and accurate.

Making use of customer data

To deliver this ultimate customer experience banks need deep insight into the behaviours, needs and preferences of each of their customers… and how these are changing.

Banks and financial institutions need to ask what value they’re really providing to their customers and if they are engaging customers at a frequency and for a duration that makes them matter.

On really compelling digital platforms users engage a few times a day (perhaps all but continuously on social platforms). The social reality is that users trust their networks more than they trust your brand.

How do companies embrace these new dynamics?

They need to innovate, experiment, personalise and engage—and they need to execute fast. They must make smart use of the growing volumes of data their customers trust them with. This will allow them to, for example, react in an engaging and appropriate way when customers reach key life events: leaving home, work, marriage, children and retirement, for example.

But they may also need to get even closer to their customers to learn more about how needs and desires are changing. Deepening engagement will provide additional insight that will help banks develop new services that meet new customer needs.

Delivering value in return

Nobody wants to feel like a company is simply rifling through their stuff though, so ensuring that customer data provides customers with real additional value is one of the keys to success.

Banks that are insensitive and irritate users with irrelevant or inconsiderate advertising will lose out. Pushing adverts for wills and end of life insurance at someone the day they turn sixty or retire, for example, may be demographically appropriate but is unlikely to be warmly received!

With trust and loyalty harder than ever to earn – thanks in part to social networks and the peer opinions people tend to trust more than they trust brands – banks must be very careful to only use customer data to advertise products and services that the customer is interested in, at a time that is right for the customer and with their consent.

Looking into the future

Banks would do well to try and anticipate how tomorrow’s increasingly tech-savvy customers are likely to want to manage their finances too. To do this they must understand how, when and why customers navigate through new channels as they become available.

And with the pace at which customers’ habits and preferences evolve only likely to accelerate, to be successful against more agile newer entrants, traditional banks must ensure they can rapidly accommodate new behaviours and desires. As new technologies emerge banks will have to move quickly to integrate additional channels into a seamless omni-channel experience.

Of course figuring out what you should do is often easier than figuring out how you should do it.

Recently the network PurpleBeach undertook research aimed at producing actionable insights to help organisations unlock innovation, these are their ten ‘postcards from the future’:

  1. Start with clarity and the undeniable problem
  2. Work like pirates
  3. Open your mind, eyes and ears
  4. Challenge the status quo
  5. Riff, jazz and improvise
  6. Dream of infinity and beyond
  7. Cultivate a cult of the individual
  8. Don’t label failures as ‘failures’
  9. Don’t forget those near misses
  10. Make the future part of the furniture

To succeed in the digital age, banks must engage more deeply with their customers, personalising the experience to build loyalty. They must move with speed on the additional insights provided, beating competitors to market with innovative new services.

Are you ready to succeed in the new world?

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