A new approach to the personal approach
Banking, like any industry, goes though cycles. It has trends. Through its over-arching forward progression, there are times when it learns from the past, just as much as there are times when it forges the future.
Like any industry, banking is re-assessing the value of personalisation. One-to-one personal contact was once the pivotal quality banks offered to their customers. People often knew their bank managers by name. They popped into their branch for the smallest
of transactions because they felt welcomed, they felt confident. They liked the experience. It was a key factor in nurturing their loyalty; the personal approach.
Your bank needs you
The focus of banking activity for most people was the local branch. The manager made decisions about customers' mortgages, loans or overdrafts. Counter staff took deposits and dispensed cash, always smiling, always offering exclusive focus on precisely what
you wanted to get done in the short space of time you were at their window. Not anymore.
Today we can shop around between multiple providers looking for the best deals, promotions, services, and user interfaces. We look to get things done quickly and with minimum fuss or complication. The balance of need has altered too. We need our banks less.
They need our custom more, because there are far more competitive organisations trying to secure it.
In a digital world, we transfer money in and out of our accounts wherever and whenever we like. We pay through specialist payment apps. We use less cash, and fewer cheques, we travel more easily, we often manage our money through a combination of providers;
some of them are exclusively mobile. We'll never meet them. It doesn’t matter.
What makes the perfect customer experience?
To banks, however, it matters. So, in a faceless business, they endeavour to engage customers through the perfect customer experience. The challenge for banks in the digital age is how to offer personalisation without personal humans being involved.
How do banks capture again the essence of personal relationships that defined profitability, success, and growth in bygone days? This is the very stuff of digital transformation in the banking industry.
Banks have much in their favour to build strong customer relationships upon. Money is integral to people’s lives. Banking is an everyday issue. Despite the increasing use of the term “utility banking”, we tend not to deal with money in the same way as we
deal with gas and electricity, where we select a provider, set up a direct debit and then forget about it until something makes us want to change.
With the increased flexibility and control offered by modern banking, there comes more need to interact with the bank more often. People are effectively closer to the financial management discipline because they can be; it has become very easy to monitor
incomings, outgoings and any manner of transactions, transfers, payments and such. It's now bordering on fun. Many FinTechs focus on making it so.
The customer experience needs to flow flawlessly between all touch points; branch, web, mobile, and call centre. Customers need to feel that they’re interacting with ‘their bank’ – a single, familiar organisation that knows who they are and what they need.
This is not purely a question of smart user interface design and digital transformation. It's equally about corporate culture. While customers expect a seamless flowing experience neither the organisational structure of banks, nor their cumbersome legacy
systems, were designed in any sort of overtly joined-up fashion.
Data will dictate
Financial institutions have the data, status and relationship to become a trusted advisor to their customers. By analysing and understanding customers’ spending behaviour in granular detail, banks can identify multiple opportunities to create highly personalised,
tailored offers and services that offer considerable value to the customer, strengthening and deepening the customer relationship.
To compete with digital disruptors who specialise in rapid innovation, quickly bringing to market the kinds of creative, highly personalised products and services that customers want, banks need to understand their true role in the consumer’s life. Customers
are already looking to their finance providers for assistance with lost cards, motor breakdown recovery, identity theft protection, discounts with partner retailers, purchase protection, SOS travel assistance, home emergency coverage… even airport lounge access.
By understanding their customers, and delivering a tailored and personalised service, banks can deliver an outstanding customer experience across all channels, building the engagement and trust that ultimately leads to long term customer loyalty.