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Anticipating consumer needs: The power of data

The relationship between the bank branch and its customers has changed beyond recognition over the years – gone are the days where the branch was king, bankers knew their customers on a personal level, and customers truly trusted their counsel.

When they talked about banking, there was trust that the banker would propose the optimum offer based on everything he or she knew about that customer. Every interaction was personal, exchanged in the context of the moment. It was engaging and in real-time. Life was simple, the products few and the process straightforward.

Now, in the era of Digital the banking world has changed. And in that world data rules.

Across Britain, branches are closing at an alarming rate, in fact, more than 2,500 banks have closed since 2015 – not only does this have crippling impact on the banking sector, it also exacerbates the ‘death of the high-street’, turning once bustling shopping streets into ghost towns as potential customers have less reason to visit them.

Bankers simply cannot change the reality that in-person banking has drastically declined, and they cannot expect their employees to recognise the faces that come through the door since they rarely see them.  “Knowing” customers and providing a more personalised experience can only be accomplished through data and the ability to leverage that data in real-time.

Complicating that approach is the General Data Protection Regulation, and the increasing customer savviness about the uses surrounding personal data. Banks must now make sure they collect information that is appropriate and relevant and have the customer’s consent to do so.

So, while data may rule, customer trust still reigns, and banks that can earn the customer’s permission and trust to capture and maintain their personal data stand to dominate. They will dominate through a higher percentage of wallet share created by customer understanding and the ability to deliver timelier and more relevant offers.


Consumers demand personalised banking

Taking their cue from digital experiences in other industries, customers now expect a more personalised and engaging banking experience centred on them. In the world of digital banking, sales processes or journeys are increasingly being dictated by the customer, and the idea of a linear sales process is an illusion as evidenced by actual customer behaviour. Multiple touch-points across multiple channels inside and outside the bank lead customers on individual and unique journeys each and every time they interact with the bank. At each waypoint, customers now expect added value that is personal and relevant, taking into account not only hard data but also lifestyle.

Customers want their banks to understand them, to provide solutions tailored to them and to speak to them in a voice that is for them alone. This requires a transformation of the current product centric experience into a customer centric one that adds value and is consistent across channels.


The answer to client needs are locked in data

Customer-centric banks are those that provide a service that is smart, cognitive, helpful and delightful– something which is very hard to do in banking, considering that this is a very low engagement category in business.

New technologies can make this an easier feat. They allow banks to mine, aggregate and analyse huge volumes of customer data, structured and unstructured, in real-time. By implementing predictive analytics technology, banks are able to predict and satisfy customer needs, in some cases even before the customers know they have them. Banks can also draw data continuously, enabling them to achieve an in-depth understanding of each customer’s behaviour patterns.

Banks can then become trusted advisors capable of proactively warning customers ahead of time that they may need a credit product, for example, or that there may be an opportunity for a savings product – and then providing them the product they need at exactly the right time.  Using enhanced customer data, banks are even able to price products and services for the individual, and can negotiate that price in real time, taking personalisation to the ultimate level. As a result, the entire service model feels generous, warm and incredibly personal.


A trustworthy bank leads to loyal customers

Successful relationships are built on trust – it can’t be bought or demanded, it’s earned. 

As demonstrated in SAP Customer Experiences’ Global Consumer Insights Report, people need to feel like they can trust the person or entity they buy from or interact with, which is why banks need to ensure there is no room for error when it comes to providing the best customer experience. The key is to put the customer first and align their organisational structure, technology and internal processes accordingly.

The onus is on banks to earn their consumers’ trust – in order to so, transparency is vital. Banks must ensure the they are transparent with their clients regarding the nature in which they are collecting and using their data. In turn, trust should be rewarded by offering value-added experiences at all points of the customer journey, such as apps which give a full picture of a customer’s financial life in a way that is meaningful to them (categorising their spend, suggesting ways to reduce spend/save more), SMS and push notification services to warn of payments that will breach limits, and location– based notifications near airports advising on exchange rates and card protection when abroad.

With perfect execution across all touchpoints, comes perfect customer engagement, a vital first step that all banks should take to ensure that customers feel they are truly understood and receive personalised experiences – after all, in today’s digital and customer-driven world, it’s adapt or die. 



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James Eardley

James Eardley

Global Director - Industry Marketing

SAP Customer Experience

Member since

08 Nov 2017



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