Today’s consumers have higher expectations from the brands they interact with than ever before. Now there’s a digital solution for almost everything – from controlling heating, buying clothes, ordering food to managing money. We know that 8 in 10 consumers highly value being treated like a person, not a number – so it’s clearly worth providing convenient, personalised experiences. While many brands have cracked this, those in financial services (FS) are playing catch up, and need to capitalize on data and content velocity in order to serve engaging content.

Most FS companies already have a range of products and services available, as well as vast IT teams, and an impressive wealth of data. However, they need to better use this data to communicate these offerings to the right audience, at the right time and place. This has been a challenge, but by being able to collect, streamline and analyze data to extract real customer insights; combined with effective content delivered at scale and to the right person, FS companies can ensure the most relevant and personalized experiences are delivered. By doing so, not only will they support customers better, but they will improve loyalty, build trust and ultimately, grow their businesses.

The state of the Financial Services sector

In recent years, technological advancements and changes to the FS industry have resulted in adapting expectations from customers. For example, with the rise of neo banks like Monzo and Starling, and the reduced number of high street bank branches, consumers have required robust online communications from their bank as though it was face-to-face over the counter, and understandably this is particularly important when talking about money.

However, expectations differ from customer to customer, with younger consumers naturally having very different banking expectations from their parents – but what rings true for all is that they want personalized, engaging experiences.

With consumers of all ages experiencing great customer experience from digital services in other walks of their life, the bar is set high for FS companies. They need to be as engaging as Instagram and as easy as WhatsApp.

Essentially, FS companies are no longer just being compared to each other when it comes to great digital experiences, and for traditional banks and fintechs alike, there is a risk of falling out of favor with customers, unless they meet customer demand.

Both traditional Financial Services and fintechs can improve CX

Among the key actions that FS companies are taking to achieve the objective of improving the experience of their customers, “Improving online customer experiences” is the most commonly cited action (42%) – more than improving store/branch customer experiences or experiences with call center agents or salespersons. Despite this, however, traditional financial institutions have not typically been early adopters of technology – especially when it comes to CX due to their risk-averse mentality to implementing new technology or enhancing legacy tech.

On the other hand, fintechs and new digital banks have already embraced online banking, and are good at engaging customers in a personable and human way. They are also often able to create assets and serve content in a faster, more scalable way than traditional FS firms, thanks to their agile platforms.

However, they too have work to do to serve the content and offer experiences that reach a wider audience. For example, personal finance fintechs largely target Millennial and Gen-Z audiences, based in large cities like London.

In fact, the Financial Health Network estimates that less than 2% of fintech online products and services are tested with people over 60. With 86% of adults in their 50s and 81% of those in their 60s using smartphones, there is an untapped pool of consumers who could benefit from the convenient online experience that fintechs offer.

Understanding customers first, serving content second

Whatever the type of FS company, getting the content served to customers correctly first relies on understanding them. Customers believe they are unique, and don’t want to be offered a one-size-fits all solution, whether for a mortgage or a savings account, for example. Using insights about savings or spending patterns can help create smaller audience segments that are hyper-focused on a specific need, and show that a bank is looking to help and support individuals.

Using data is also important to understand what content not to serve to a customer. For example, suggesting setting up a savings account for someone who isn’t making savings, or targeting someone who has recently had a change in circumstance with inappropriate offers is insensitive and risks losing customers.

A great example of this is Van Lanschot. The company wanted to extend its renowned personalized services to online customers, and needed to not only understand who was visiting its website and what they were searching for, but also be able to recognize and ‘remember’ customers each time they visited. On top of this, Van Lanschot required clear messaging to communicate its specialist services within the private banking sector. By delivering quality personalized experiences and being able to create online campaigns at pace, the company has tripled the number of conversions on its website.

Creating, scaling, and managing content

Once there is an understanding of what services and support is valuable for each customer online, the next step is being able to create, scale, and manage it.

Firstly, taking content out of siloed, disparate channels and creating a hub for it is key. This means content can be accessed by everyone, used consistently and scaled across platforms, markets, and audience with ease. Having one centralized hub also makes collaboration easier, and helps to eliminate disjointed process or the need for multiple tools and systems.

For example, Saxo Bank has consolidated over 40 websites onto a single digital platform, streamlining 26 countries into one place. This has made developing and managing content across markets easier and more efficient and is improving customer experiences on the site.

Having clear visibility into the performance of content is important too. By understanding what is performing well, or not so well, makes it possible to take on feedback, and iterate and improve. Over time, a greater knowledge of which content should be served to which audience and on which platform can be built – and this can be scaled too.

This is where Sitecore’s Content Hub and Experience Platform solutions can offer support. The Content Hub technology plays a key role in unifying content – across planning, production, collaboration and management – all through one integrated solution. The Experience Platform combines customer data, analytics, AI, and marketing automation capabilities, and supports the customer journey with personalized content to be delivered in real-time, across any channel.

In the past few years, the expectations that consumers have of the FS industry have changed. The sector now needs to operate in a digital world, where customers expect things to be personalized to them, and available at the click of a button. FS firms are in the fortunate position of having vast amounts of data available to them. Now, they need to take the next step towards using it effectively and creating the right content for each customer, on the right platform and at the right time.

Mike Plimsoll is Senior Director of Strategy and Marketing at Sitecore. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter