As personalization continues to take center stage across all customer touchpoints, reshaping the way consumers interact with brands, it’s surprising that we’ve yet to see it power some of the world’s biggest and most profitable industries. One of those, financial services, is an industry long plagued by issues with legacy systems and dated ways of thinking – despite the significant pay off associated with head-to-toe disruption in the form of tailored, consumer experiences.
But as consumers’ reliance on all things digital grows, it’s imperative that financial institutions embrace the modern strategies now afforded to us, and at faster rates of adoption. Because the current pace in which they are operating simply won’t be enough to meet their expectations, let alone their future demands.
Luckily, many industry players have already begun their transformations, reaping the positive rewards of more individualized interactions. Several household names in finance including Capital One, Chase and Discover, are working overtime to attract clientele with personalized, one-to-one interactions. Doubling down on their investments in personalization, these brands are ditching their antiquated tech stacks for more advanced and holistic technologies, revamping their digital marketing strategies, and recruiting top talent to connect with their customers on a one-to-one level across the customer journey.
But it doesn’t all just happen overnight.
Admitting it’s time to evolve
While the financial services industry has made strides in areas such as mobile banking, it is nowhere near the level of eCommerce or travel brands, who have completely raised the bar by presenting customers with top-shelf digital experiences. Thanks to a commitment to omnichannel personalization, consumers have begun to normalize these interactions with brands, growing intolerant of those not up to par and creating a deep sense of urgency for digital adoption for less savvy sectors.
Financial institutions looking to acquire and retain customers must put this same focus on building deeper relationships with consumers through personalization. And the stakes are even higher, considering companies need to convince people to trust them with their money – an all the more difficult feat given the recent rise in data breaches. But regardless of these hurdles, rethinking outdated strategies and approaches to customer engagement can make a noticeable difference in the outcomes of acquisition and retention strategies.
Laying the foundation for personalization
A crucial area of growth for financial institutions is in their recognition abilities. Uncovering and dissecting consumer trust levels, needs, interests, life events, and financial priorities can dramatically improve how these firms tailor experiences and market themselves. In addition, accessibility is absolutely necessary – consumers function across devices, via kiosks, and no longer see single institutions as a one-stop shop for all of their financial needs. With the rise of digital-first financial brands that provide everything from microloans for small businesses to budgeting assistance, each institution and service provider must understand their strengths and limitations within the financial space.
Whatever the case, financial brands need to start by shifting from a channel-centric to customer-centric approach. In order to do so, a few key components must come together first.
Achieve a 360-degree view of the customer – creating a solid foundation when it comes to data is absolutely critical to ensuring communication is not only consistent across channels, but also relevant to the individual. All sources, from first and third-party data to CRM, email, important offline transactions, and more should be consolidated into a unified source of truth for accuracy and precision in personalization efforts.
Leverage real-time behavioral signals – over the course of the customer journey, individual preferences are constantly evolving, meaning financial brands need to be able to adapt to each user as their interests, affinities, and intent in real-time. This requires the right technology to constantly collect user data and signals for automatic traffic allocation to the best possible variation for that particular segment at any given moment.
Build omnichannel journeys that cut across departments – organizations currently seeing results with personalization understand it takes a village. Ideating, designing, developing, and launching new campaigns that touch multiple channels involves various stakeholders often spanning different departments – requiring a concerted effort and significant coordination. Getting these individuals on the same page is therefore absolutely necessary for financial brands as they set out to connect experiences across web, mobile, email, and more.
Select the right tools to improve efficiencies – sustaining long-term growth from personalization has a lot to do with being able to scale operations, meaning the output of any program needs to increase over time. As the number of tests, variations, and segments goes up, teams will need to rely on the support of automation and machine learning to properly analyze, identify, and act on personalization opportunities as they materialize.
A smart investment for a conservative industry
Whether looking to improve the overall relevancy and efficiency of their messaging, nurture relationships and establish trust, increase credit card adoption, or simply acquire new customers per service / product, personalization has the ability to impact a plethora of KPIs. So long as the right components are in place.
In a digitally connected world, financial brands can no longer hide behind the thin veil of operating in a risk-averse industry. Maintaining the status quo or even lagging behind is where they will meet their demise, as digital-first disruptors sweep in to capture the market share.