Financial Services organizations: Get to know your customers better

It goes without saying that last year had a huge impact on everyday life and customer behavior – even in the financial services industry (FSI). Those long queues at the bank during lunch hour are a thing of the past. Bank branches are closed, or open only for key workers and elderly customers – who are generally more digital-wary. What was second nature to many – online banking – is now part of everyday life for most.

Behavioral changes have also impacted insurance customers, with less people driving on the roads or travelling on holiday. Wealth management has been hit by market volatility as people grapple with loss of income, business closures, and redundancy. Across banking, insurance, and wealth management there has also been a significant shift towards self-service.

In a recent survey of 100 IT and Marketing Directors, VPs and CIOs in Finance and Insurance Services in North America1, Sitecore revealed that 78% saw an uptick of customer self-service interactions and/or mobile usage. We don’t expect this trend to disappear. Financial services organizations need to be ready to deliver exactly what customers need across all digital channels and accommodate sudden shifts in how consumers choose to interact.

Disruptive competition knows its customers

The digital experiences customers are getting are consistent with those they experience in person – and as good as some of the rival FinTechs who are already on top of their digital game. Then there’s the added pressure from Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple (GAFA), with services such as Google Pay, Amazon Protect, Amazon Credit Card, and Apple Pay building momentum.2 What’s next for these customer-centric giants? We don’t know but we have to be ready to adapt by being nimble and agile.

One thing we do know is that GAFA and FinTechs have a handle on customer data and it’s this that allows them to deliver the highly personalized, highly consistent digital experiences that customers crave. These providers make managing finances easy! For example, the average age of people investing has reduced because you no longer need £5 million to invest. With the likes of Robinhood, you can invest £100 per month if you want to.

FSI organizations have to step up to the plate, either by offering their own comparable services to GAFA and FinTechs or investing and partnering with those that do. Indeed, in recent years FinTechs have evolved from being threats to allies, as more FSI organizations react by investing in and utilizing their tools, platforms, and capabilities to boost their own digital transformation. There are many different roads to the same destination.

Make your channels work for ALL customers

To stay competitive with FinTech rivals and handle the curveballs of the digital space with grace, FSI organizations need to plan a route from where they are now – burdened by expensive real estate and legacy systems – and where they need to be, which is a highly efficient, low-risk blend of digital and physical channels, or a “phygital” business model.

One way to do this is by rethinking their branches and making them work differently than digital channels. This can be done in a supportive way, with a view to making more customers comfortable with online banking. For the younger crowd, they could be turned into café-style hangouts. Add in a support desk like Apple’s Genius bars, to help less digital savvy customers out, and you’ve got the older crowd covered too.

Keep your customers close

With the opening up of banking platforms, there is an even greater focus on knowing and retaining customers. With open banking, customers can, among many other things, find their own deals; compare services in real time; receive personalized price comparison information based on what they spend; connect their bank account to an app that analyses their spending and then recommends a new credit card or investment opportunity; or sign up to a provider which displays all of their accounts with multiple banks in one place.

This might sound daunting, but these factors lead to more opportunities for FSI organizations to give customers the experience they want, wherever they are online.

Holistic view

With an increase in open banking and more choices in terms of how consumers can engage, a holistic view of customer behavior and interaction points is key to giving the personalized relevant experiences and information customers want. This is where financial organizations need to be focusing their efforts – on centralising customer data on a customer data platform to allow decisioning, personalization and experimentation and a unified customer identity across all channels.

Scale and streamline with AI

After centralizing data, financial services organizations can better utilize artificial intelligence (AI) to help scale and streamline processes. AI can help marketers extract better insights from their customer data by automating processes for more scale and deeper personalization and by freeing up your marketers to create more content.

Smart, forward-thinking companies are already utilising AI to assist marketing operations and also free up IT resources to support other projects, but not everyone has taken the leap yet. Whilst FSI organizations are discussing the role of AI, according to our survey4, just over half are discussing it in small groups or single departments, while 92% of have started some conversations about AI’s value to their business. Only one third have deepened their commitment by making it a company-wide policy.

Lose your head

Consistent, personalized content has to be delivered “anywhere” in today’s world. A headless CMS enables marketers to push content beyond web and mobile, to reach consumers on any touchpoint and it’s becoming an increasingly popular choice in the effort to streamline content delivery.

By updating legacy technology to incorporate Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), you enable developers to build specific applications and services for your business. This in turn offers greater financial transparency options for customers and more relationship-building and cross and up-selling opportunities for marketers, giving you the freedom, and flexibility to excel.

FSI customers have specific needs and expectations, security, and regulatory needs and these have only become more complex in the last year. When the world has turned upside down, it’s more important than ever to know your customers inside out.

To learn more about the urgent need for FSI organizations to digitally transform, read our Guide or watch this Video.

1 Seismic shift: How 2020 impacts CX in the Financial and Insurance sector
2 Elsewhen: Why Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon Are a Danger to the Financial Services Sector
3 ING’s agile transformation
4 Seismic shift: How 2020 impacts CX in the Financial and Insurance sector