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Retail Banking : Digital Customer Communications

Published: Friday, 19 December 2014 13:50 by Katharine Hulls, VP Marketing
Digital Intelligence

Understanding the Customer across all digital and offline touchpoints

Our Appropriate Marketing blog series has looked at the differences between various sectors, assessing different approaches to digital marketing agility to enhance customer engagement and how the three Cs – Customers, Complexity and Culture – are affecting the routes taken by the different industries and organisations.

Retail banking and insurance are sectors which have experienced huge growth in the number of customers now interacting in a digital environment. This instalment discusses how embedding digital within an end to end customer experience is key to deliver customer engagement.

Financial Services is changing its attitude to digital. Over the past decade digital has become an increasingly important part of the business model for insurers and retail banks – but it has often operated in a silo. This is now changing in their drive to be customer-led.

With the upsurge in customers undertaking the majority of banking activity online – both via desktop and mobile – and the rise of highly innovative niche Financial Services, both retail banks and insurers need to rapidly adapt and become more agile in their approach.  They must gain real insight into the changing multi-channel customer journey in order to improve engagement and enhance the customer experience if they are to boost loyalty and maximise opportunities to up-sell and cross-sell new products.

Understanding the customer
Attitudes are adapting quickly in response to the rapid evolution in customer behaviour. Digital has become far more important in recent years, with customers not only using digital channels to check balances and handle payments, but also exploit the online aggregators to compare financial products, especially insurance and loans. Improving individual customer understanding across all digital and offline touchpoints is therefore essential today.

For example, when a customer uses the online loan calculator he is not only displaying a real interest and showing trust in the brand, but also demonstrating a clear and immediate requirement. Many may begin the application process, abandon it, and then leave the website. It is at this point that the organisation needs to understand the customer and react accordingly. Was there a technical issue? Was the form too complicated? Did they phone the call centre or drop into a branch instead? Banks need to reach out quickly and efficiently in order to secure the sale whilst the customer demand is still current – and has not been met by a competitor.

The pressure to get it right
Financial Services companies, unlike those in many sectors, have a relatively limited product set with which to entice new customers and cross- or up-sell to existing ones.  This means that they need to get the offer given to each individual absolutely right each and every time.  

This is also critical because Financial Services are not something that people buy very frequently so the selling opportunities are limited, Moreover inertia often means that customers stay with that provider for a long time, hence the lifetime customer value is well beyond that of the original sale.  On top of this is the need to meet strong regulatory and compliance measures which govern this sector, including the need to record every offer made to customers or prospects.

Both of these challenges add considerable complexity to the lives of marketers within Financial Services: for no other sector is the mantra “right offer, right person, right time, right channel” more true.

A stable approach
The culture within Financial Services, in particular retail banks, is one shaped by many years of history and the very nature of such an important sector. Decisions are carefully considered by relatively complex decision-making groups and the technology choices made are often long-term and platform-based in nature.  This contrasts with some other sectors for whom agility and flexibility are key; stability and reliability are critical for retail banks.

Compared to some sectors though, Financial Services companies have a clear advantage when looking at customer-centric digital marketing transformation and an ability to be agile – they have huge experience in the use of analytics tools and techniques both in marketing and other parts of the business such as risk and fraud. Having been monitoring customer transaction and interaction history and building out sophisticated CRM platforms and programmes, these companies understand the value of data and have in depth, offline customer information within extensive data warehouses. They also have the skills in house to extend the use of analytics to include digital information sources to create the complete view of omnichannel customer behaviour.

Financial Services organisations have a number of the pieces in place to transform themselves into customer-led, true omni-channel organisations. The challenge now is to embed this thinking within the end to end customer experience and exploit in depth customer insight to deliver outstanding customer engagement and customer experience, especially at those all important life stages that we all go through.

 

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