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Why a meticulous approach to customer data is essential for omnichannel banking success

The increase in omnichannel banking requirements is driving the demand for high quality, trusted data to support customer engagement.

While banks have been working with customers in real-time for quite some time, they now need to capture more than just traditional transactional data when interacting with customers to inform engagement with relevant insights. Banks must grow the foundation of data on which their engagement policies are based, regardless of how a customer chooses to interact – whether by phone, email, social media or in-branch.

Millenials have high service expectations based on their experiences with retailers. As a result, there is an increasing demand for continuously available and seamlessly linked channel choices capable of serving individual needs. Retail companies have created an engagement culture based upon a deep knowledge of customer preferences and browsing and purchasing patterns, propagating a trend towards marketing to the individual. This experience has created an impression that all key service providers – including banks – have huge amounts of customer data which can be used to drive the engagement process. In practice, banks have traditionally managed their businesses as operational siloes, as there was little need to do anything else. As such, most did not have reserves of non-functional data on which to call. That time is coming to an end.

Top skills for omnichannel

Make the most of data as a corporate asset

A great deal of data still sits in operational siloes and lacks holistic, organisation-wide data governance. Ownership and controls are unclear, and quality levels are poorly understood. As a result of all this, the few data policies that are in place tend to be poorly defined and thus inefficient, making it hard for banks to access and leverage useful data.

Treating data as a corporate asset begins with an increasing awareness of its value across the entire organisation. Many banks still operate with separated business functions, for example. In order to get the most out of the data they hold, COOs and CDOs should be tasked with promoting data value across the business. Omnichannel banking is inherently cross-organisational in nature, so attitudes towards data need to follow suit.

When this is achieved, different sections of the bank will be able to benefit directly from the data gathered in other areas of business, leading to a more tailored customer experience.

Handle data in real time

Customer-centricity programmes exist in many banks, but many have a limited focus on which types of data are really required to provide more personalised experiences. Omnichannel banking requires that all sources of relevant customer data can be accessed and integrated into a data platform where it is readily available. This includes everything from location data to browsing habits and purchase history.

Given customers’ ability to shift channel quickly and the sheer level of data that will have to enter the platform, banks need to reconsider their operating model. A real-time system should be able to cope with the large demand, cleansing data as it arrives and feeding it to client engagement teams as soon as possible.

Don’t ignore a single customer data source

All customer interactions leave digital footprints which help to explain the customer journey. These footprints get left in places which aren’t seen as traditional sources of customer relevant data.

As a result, banks are missing information which could help them streamline and redesign their customer-facing processes. If a customer has been looking for help with how to resolve a missing transaction issue, for example, it probably isn’t the best time to try and make an offer for an upgraded account.

Turn to disruptive technologies

Banks mustn’t underestimate the power of new technologies to shape the way they interact with customers, and should be looking to harness them to improve processes and personalisation. A number of disruptive technologies like social media, cloud and the Internet of Things (IoT) are providing new enablers for the omnichannel bank. Each of these technologies has value in its own right, but when combined their value can be even greater.

For example, organisations can sweep social media for prevalent themes amongst their customers, getting ‘on-the-ground’ insight into what services they require and where they feel their needs are not being met. The IoT adds a further dimension to this, offering the chance for financial institutions to capture data on customers’ activity levels, health and movements – all of which can provide valuable insight into the needs of the individual and how best to interact with them.

Manage your data carefully

Data governance is an important consideration for all banks. It’s essential that data is effectively governed regardless of its source, how it is processed or how it is consumed. If data governance processes are not updated to match the broader data landscape, the change in data gathering techniques could lead to disruptions in the overall process. These in turn risk causing costly data leaks and arousing the attention of the regulators, both of which banks should be aiming to avoid.

Where next?

In the age of customer-centricity, both retail and corporate customers are increasingly demanding new capabilities. Omnichannel is a real opportunity for banks to take the initiative and align their service delivery with their customers’ needs.

Achieving that alignment will require a quick uptake of new data technologies. The rise of challenger banks and demanding millenials means that financial institutions must put in place flexible, cross-enterprise data strategies or risk becoming obsolete.


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