When I started my career in banking the universe was very different. Travelling back in time it looks like a different planet altogether. ‘Logan’s Run’ created waves as did ‘The close encounter of the third kind’; Ray Bradbury’s stories transposed one to
a different time and space. Customers walked into branches and the relationship managers cemented the building blocks of relationship. I was in charge of foreign exchange desk. I could reel off the exchange rates for top 5 currencies. In my little book I maintained
neatly the ‘analytics’ of each customer, their forex deposits maturity dates and without fail sent out reminders of deposit renewals. I edited, contributed and published a newsletter every month and religiously mailed it to all my customers. I knew Mr. John
Mathew as I did Mrs. Shirley Thomson (without the ‘P’). If I did this now, I will not survive for a second as a banker for one reason alone; I know only one aspect of my customers that is historical and it can be less than 10% of their persona. This is catastrophic.
Technology has helped banks to make a big leap. The survival of the ubiquitous branch is now under debate. Internet has distanced the customers from banks. The customers have a new segmentation – the millennials. This technology savvy group is faceless,
highly interactive on social media, melt away as fast as they appear. The banks are now facing the biggest challenge to understand these ‘shadow’ customers. The only way left it seems is to follow the digital footprint and anticipate the next move. The two
new kids in the block; Analytics and Digital banking apparently are a solution for selling products. In my view, it is only a partial solution to the problem.
The digital engagement is not only selling the products through brute force marketing but creating a persona that can befriend these screenagers. A bank has to go beyond selling products much as they need to satisfy a financial need. The ‘moment of truth’
for satisfying this need is transitory. A real time tracking may show a millennial in a line to buy a new apple product. The bank has to think on its feet and suggest a loan product to satisfy the need or offer a discount if the purchase is made from the
banks branded credit or debit card or much better if it can do both. If this is packaged collaboratively with apple brand, it is game, set and match. A successful strategy.
The only way to cultivate trust with a millennial is to engage on social media. Understanding the media is more important than the message itself (recall Marshall McLuhan). When a bank can detect a school dropout scenario, a bank has to take a decision;
ask its tech innovation-financing group to reach out to discuss a project. This will be possible if a bank has a 360-degree view of the digital footprint of the customer. The definition of 360 degree is not limited to relationship with the bank; it is more
expansive. For a change, a bank has to determine what its lifetime value is for a customer not vice versa. This is thinking different.
My bank keeps bombarding me digitally with messages that force me to reconsider my relationship. In effect, the bank is driving me away by digital engagement that has badly misfired. The bank should know I do not need an insurance on my credit card balance
when I repay more than what the bill is by making frequent payments in a billing cycle.
To engage digitally a bank needs to have a strong strategy on digital engagement founded on analytics. Analytics not within the narrow confines of itself. A persona based behaviour scenarios designed using the insight from holistic analytics will go a long
way in defining the strategy. The digital footprint is not only from interactions with the bank, but from all around the digital space. If banks fails to do this, the discussion will not be on ‘if branches can survive’ but on ‘can we survive as a bank’; a
discussion many bankers may not prefer.