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How to Make Personalisation Part of Every Financial Services Experience

Salesforce’s Stuart Ward draws on insights from the new Customer Imperative in Financial Services report to discuss how banks and insurers can use data and technology to create the personalised experiences customers crave.

The acceleration of digital transformation in financial services has been driven by several factors. One is lockdowns, which have forced us all to become digital natives no matter our age. Our digital expectations as customers have skyrocketed.

Another is regulatory change, as recommendations from the Financial Services Royal Commission make their way into law. This has changed the way organisations sell, and therefore has a customer focus.

Finally, there’s the rise and rise of fintechs, masters of the digital experience.

All of these drivers have one thing in common: a customer-centric focus. 

To better understand how this shift is affecting the financial services industry, Salesforce collaborated with Bain & Company on The Customer Imperative in Financial Services report. It’s brimming with actionable insights for financial services organisations looking to take their customer experience to the next level.

What did the report say?

Among the many interesting findings was that financial services firms have made gains in customer advocacy and trust thanks in part to how they supported people through the pandemic. We know the past 18 months have been incredibly difficult for many people. The financial services industry really came together to help people. As a result, 25% of consumers reported an improvement in trust in their bank’s brand.

Speaking of trust, 60% of banking and insurance customers are comfortable with how their data is being used, and 65% trust their bank or insurer to protect their data.

Consumers of all ages also now have a strong preference for digital channels – for both simple and complex interactions.

Future success and market share will come from building on this momentum with an obsessive focus on customer experience. So what opportunities does this offer?

Personalisation is no longer optional

My father used to run a community bank branch in the ‘80s. Each day, he’d park on the other side of town and walk to work just so he could talk to business owners and residents along his route to the bank. 

Why? Because if he knew the people and businesses personally, there would be a level of trust. He’d also be familiar with what they needed and when. He would quite literally see opportunities before they arrived. Most important of all, he cared for these people. He wanted them to succeed. That’s what ‘personalisation’ means.

Today, that intention to know people as individuals and seek their success is just as vital. This is what fintechs do well, and what traditional banks and insurers now have the opportunity to improve upon.

Trust underpins the information exchange required for personalisation. And as our research shows, the Australian public is happy for their data to be used if it means interactions become more relevant and personalised. Not only that — they expect it of their banks and insurers, and want them to be proactive to this end. 

Today’s finserv landscape is a bit different than when my dad was a bank branch manager. Digital is the primary conduit through which we do business these days. But in a similar way, banks and insurers can use every ‘interaction’ with a customer to get to know them. 

One insight that came out of the The Customer Imperative in Financial Services report is that customers hate being passed from one channel to another against their will. If a customer starts a process digitally but must end it in person, that’s a major frustration. 

However, we also know from the research that there are moments where the human element is wanted and preferred. But it should never be a cold handover. Every time a customer interacts with marketing or sales or service, everything that happens during that interaction needs to be used to build that customer’s profile. Everything that’s known about the customer should be used, so that each interaction is more personal and relevant than the one that came before.

What tech makes this possible?

Certain capabilities underpin a business’s ability to create this continuity of customer experience. Most important is a dashboard that shows everything pertinent to that customer. It should serve as a single source of truth that can be accessed by whichever team member is progressing along an application, working through a complaint, or whatever the customer request might be. 

Cloud-based systems are also growing in popularity in financial services, and they’re creating advantages. During the first wave of the pandemic, when we had to rapidly shift to remote work, organisations that were cloud based had agile infrastructures. They were able to reposition staff, redeploy services more quickly, and they were able to scale operations to work from anywhere without having to stand up bespoke systems or do massive tech overhauls. The data, and the access-from-anywhere ability, introduces powerful benefits. 

Analytics capabilities are something else that’s making personalisation in the financial services industry more possible. Automation can help sales and service agents work out next best actions based on that particular customer’s history. If they’re looking at an application journey, they might proactively reach out to people who have been dormant for five or six days to offer assistance. Based on profile data, banks can reach out to customers to offer information about their eligibility for certain tax credits or rewards programs. 

Another powerful piece of functionality that technology offers is collaboration. Recently, Salesforce brought on Slack, and it’s amazing to see the difference that this kind of tool makes to operations. The ability to collaborate, particularly between customer-facing staff and operational teams, is the difference between being amazing in execution and being sloppy. 

The ability to communicate for visibility and accountability, no matter where the team members are working, is of enormous benefit.

Happy customers benefit all stakeholders

A financial services business using data positively, transparently and constructively for the customer will see an increase in revenue because they’re offering relevant services and conversations from a place of trust.

They’re going to be able to onboard and train staff a lot more quickly and offer greater online knowledge libraries and FAQs because information is centralised and accessible from anywhere.

Analytics integration can help with product innovation as well. It can reveal previously invisible trends, including where and why certain types of customers are reacting certain ways, and larger movements in the market. This can spark ideas for new offerings to fill market gaps. 

Finally, once you solidify the trust and consent of the customer, you can begin to partner with brands with a similar value set to make the experience even more seamless, and delightful, for the customer.

Imagine a customer has recently taken out a home loan. How amazing would it be if their mortgage provider connected them with ancillary services like removalists, home insurance providers and utility companies? 

That trusted community could become a powerful platform that creates an entirely different and more valuable customer journey. 

How can banks and insurers use data insights and technology to take personalisation to the next level? Download The Customer Imperative in Financial Services: Permission to Personalise report to get the latest insights on how financial services businesses can set a new standard for customer experience.

Get the Report: The Customer Imperative in Financial Services

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