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Why becoming an experience business within financial services means a return to the personalised approach your bank manager used to give you – this time using technology. Rob McLeod, client partner at Merkle, tells us how.

Every bank knows that delivering true customer-centricity is essential – for its customers and for business. For many major financial services institutions, it is an enormous challenge. Often they have many millions of customers split across multiple sub-brands, creating billions of transactions every month.

The most effective way to approach this is to strip banking back to the basics, re-engage your customer base in conversation, and become dedicated to making banking easy, fair, professional and personal.

This is no mean feat. As any major bank with many millions of customers split across multiple sub-brands, creating billions of transactions every month, will tell you.

What does personalisation mean these days in banking?

Back in ‘the good old days’ all the financial needs of a customer of any typical bank were managed, coordinated and channelled through one person: the branch manager. That individual knew the customer and what was going on in their lives. They remembered what had been shared with them, and made personal recommendations based on unique, personal circumstances.

In their quest for ‘improvement’, most banks moved away from this. The single points of contact disappeared, and so did the personalisation. It’s unlikely today that a customer would wake up in the morning with their first thought being ‘I want to speak to my bank today’, even though they have ever-present, ever-changing needs. Banks who can appreciate this need stand a better chance of evolving from a financial services provider to becoming an experience business within financial services.

Essentially this means being a virtual reincarnation of the bank manager of old: embracing the power of evolved behaviour and new technology.

Unfortunately, no point-in-time solution would be able to deliver against this aim, so our approach is to support the build of a cutting-edge capability that is data-driven and efficient, omni-channel, always on, and – where appropriate – automated.

At the heart we’re enabling our clients to use data and decisioning to make banking personal for their customers. For those clients on this journey it hasn’t been straightforward.

Like many institutions over the past two or more decades, there is often a legacy ‘firework’ culture – light, run away, and everyone claps. Changes were made by gut feel, there was a backlog of improvements, tweaks got masked by larger updates and, often there wasn’t enough data to enable things to work properly. Generally, there has often been too much emotional investment for something to fail – even if it wasn’t truly delivering against customer need.

Adapting to digital consumer

The apps and devices our clients have deployed for customers create such mountains of data that it is impossible to connect and to then make sense of it in a way that enables the bank to speak to people as individuals, at the right time, on the right channels and with the right messages. There is often a ‘content velocity’ challenge, and as a result targets – such as those for communication response rates and product applications – are not met.

In one client example, people were failing to complete mortgage applications and conversion was suffering. When they tried contacting customers who didn’t take their application further after 24hrs, 50% came in for a mortgage appointment, proving conversations work.

The solution is to find a way of better moving people around the purchase journey by serving them tailored offers, communications and experiences at the right time on an individual level and at scale.

To overcome the content velocity challenge and achieve our mutual goal of creating a unique experience for everyone, we deploy PEGA decisioning technology. This allows us to automate and personalise our clients’ marketing – at scale – and personally target customers. Coupled with this central AI capability are the relevant Adobe Marketing Cloud components – primarily Campaign, Target, Audience Manager and Experience Manager.

With this in place, when a customer needs to borrow money for a purchase, clients can make it as quick and easy as possible for them. They can help customers prepare for mortgage renewal, reminding them about the date they need to put a plan in place, and helping them find the products to meet their needs. The customers can use whatever channel they prefer.

We harness this technology to further assault the content velocity challenge. Where we’ve seen early success stories with DMPs, we’ve seen things move to the next level and beyond when we truly unify technologies and leverage the decisioning AI to drive the DMP. Efficiency gains have broached treble digits.

Of course, it’s not all about selling: in a committed lifetime relationship with customers, a bank should listen to what’s important to the customer. Often the priority conversation is about service, sending updates to help customers stay on-track, or making the most of what they have – such as bundled travel insurance, for example. Banks are now able to let a customer know when they spot something that might be of interest to them. They’re ready to talk to every customer: anywhere they want, any time they want.

And with constant testing, as channels evolve – so can our clients’ ecosystems.

This article originally appeared in The Drum Network Finance Supplement. For more information on how to get involved, please contact tehmeena.latif@thedrum.com

Rob McLeod, client partner, Merkle

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