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From Novelty to Necessity: The Evolution of Personalisation in Financial Services


I can vividly recall, 20 years ago when I walked into my local bank branch to apply for a line of credit to purchase a car. The bank arranged a personal meeting with the manager of the branch – a unique customer service experience that I haven’t forgotten. This face-to-face interaction may only have been a simple gesture by today’s standards but this personal touch transformed me into a loyal customer and helped me buy my first car. I am still with the same bank today.

Just as customers have grown accustomed to personalised services in other industries, the demand has begun to receive the same attention in financial services. There is an increased pressure as customers demand higher levels of convenience, immediacy and personalisation. According to our research, 83% of banks see providing a customer experience tailored to the individual as key to gaining a competitive advantage.

Know your customer

Today’s banking customers have come to expect nothing less than relevant and timely services at all times and they are willing to shop around to get it. It has never been easier to create a new bank account or switch providers. Banks and building societies are offering large cash bonuses of up to £725 in a bid to tempt people into switching current accounts. If banks aren’t delivering an omnichannel experience then there is no advantage to the current customer. This threat of customer attrition is compounded by challenger banks such as Metro sweeping in to deliver much more customer-centric services.  


The world has changed and today’s customers want to be able to conduct transactional events anytime, anywhere. The last thing a customer wants to be concerned with before jetting off on holiday is letting their bank know they’re going abroad. With the troves of personal information on file that financial institutions hold, customers expect their bank to anticipate their needs in real-time. This data holds valuable insights and contextual knowledge that will allow employees to serve the customers better across every touch point. Whether they visit the physical branch, are browsing on the website, or phone in, customers expect that their bank can serve them in the moment and with the exact service required. The immediacy of the digital age demands that a bank has this level of detailed insight into its customer base.

Empower continuous innovation

Digital disruption is impacting every level in banking. From new technology to increased competition to heightened customer expectations, incumbent banks have become vulnerable. In a recent study, Gartner found that whilst 93% of organisations have initiated some kind of digital transformation project, over 70% fail due to an inability to overcome organisational or technological complexity. However, failure is not an option. It was Jack Welch who once famously said, “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.”

It’s often repeated that digital transformation is not a journey, but a destination – which is why an essential part of a strategy will include continuous innovation. A bank can’t afford to transform then stop. By “taking a road less travelled”, approach a bank can rapidly experiment with new solutions and try new ideas, fail fast and course correct where necessary. The success of digital transformation depends on a bank’s ability to overhaul legacy thinking, and counter any legacy technology constraints.  After all, if a bank is to succeed in creating and defining a whole new agile IT infrastructure it needs to promote the right internal culture first. It needs to align business and IT people in a way that works and instils a powerful collaborative vision across the team.

When innovating in this fashion, more options make themselves apparent, and the organisation begins thinking in a whole new way. For example, many banks are partnering with more and more third-party technologies to create a competitive advantage and delight customers. Earlier this year, Lloyds, Halifax and Bank of Scotland teamed up with Microsoft to pilot the use of fingerprint and facial recognition technology for online banking logins. Banks must now think in new and innovative ways, or risk becoming a mere-back office utility. Banks can no longer afford to keep customers waiting for better service or they’ll simply go elsewhere.

Personalisation in banking has evolved from a novelty to a necessity. 20 years ago, a personal greeting by the branch manager was commonplace. The bar has been raised and now customers expect personalisation across all channels and touch points. The only way for banks to deliver personalised and contextualised services at scale is by leveraging forward-thinking digital methods and technologies. Only then will customers enjoy the same brand experience where and whenever they interact with their bank.




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