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How Banks Can Succeed by Taking an Enterprise Approach to Customer Conversations Management

Here’s the truth: new communication channels are born every day, but old channels never die. This is especially true in the financial services industry. As customer preferences have shifted towards digital banking, firms are challenged with figuring out how to create and deliver communications via email, SMS, in-app messaging, websites and chatbots, social media, branch advisors and contact center agents – all while still delivering via traditional postal mail for customers who want it, or as needed for regulatory compliance. It’s a lot to manage. Meanwhile customer expectations around personalization and on-demand service continue to increase.

Yet another more painful truth is that many banks and financial institutions (FIs) still rely on disconnected, outdated software systems for customer communications management (CCM), many built for batch print applications and not today’s digital-first customer needs. Meanwhile many organizations have then acquired disparate systems to support digital channels or different lines of business – or simply inherited them through acquisition.

This redundancy leads to higher IT support costs, as well as siloed data, which ultimately impacts customer experience and compliance risks. Furthermore, many of these legacy systems aren’t built to scale in the cloud. So enterprises spend more to manage on-premise legacy systems, requiring heavy IT involvement to update and maintain. What’s more, many legacy communications platforms might be good for batch, but aren’t designed to effectively support on-demand, interactive or collaborative communications.  

That’s why we’re seeing so many banks and other financial institutions prioritize moving toward an enterprise approach, with the goal of consolidating various platforms that support customer conversations into a single solution, built to support today’s modern cloud architecture. Let’s take a closer look at these challenges facing the financial services industry and how to solve them.

Redundancy is Killing Efficiency and Collaboration Across Departments and Lines of Business

From the systems used across departments or lines of business, to the communication channels used to provide a great experience to customers and employees, it’s time to make some updates. As noted in a recent report by a leading research and advisory firm, Celent, “Financial institutions still have many overlapping customer engagement IT solutions that they need to pay for, integrate, and make interoperate. This is time consuming and expensive within and across lines of business and customer engagement processes.”

Celent concluded and recommended to enterprises, “With multiple communications so prevalent, FIs can improve operating efficiency and realize cost savings by integrating and consolidating these communications.”

Thinking across the enterprise is the key to offering a cohesive customer experience that builds loyalty and wallet share. For example, using data to build “next-best offers” into servicing correspondence or using regular customer communications, like statements, to include personalized marketing messages. Or, even using data to trigger offers sent based on a customer’s life stage or relevant changes in an account. FIs can think beyond just operational communications to work with the marketing team and continue delivering great experiences.

The way to go is to identify use cases for multiple lines of business that drive real value, particularly focusing on areas that require personalized, compliant communications, such as:

  • Acquiring new customers
  • Onboarding customers with the right welcome communications
  • Account servicing, e.g. loans, lending, commercial credit cards, with better self-service and support for contact center communications
  • Statements and regular client account reporting

Managing customer communications in a holistic, integrated manner will help banks a customer experience that stands out across every channel, building brand loyalty and trust and encouraging people to open new lines of business with the firm.

Communication Channels: What’s Wrong and How to Fix It

It’s important to look at all your communications channels including print (which isn’t going away). If an email bounces, can you automatically channel-switch to send something via mail? Can a customer start and stop an interaction on mobile and desktop? Is content consistent across channels? Don’t forget to audit communications that happen in the branch or contact centers.

While some banks have different tools to support all these channels, the smarter approach is to do all of this from a single platform to facilitate omnichannel delivery, across brand and line of business. If your marketing team is siloed from onboarding or customer service, for example, that’s a missed opportunity to engage.

With an enterprise approach, financial institutions can deliver communications to any channel based on customers’ preference, at scale. This is especially important considering a benchmark study that found 61% of customers felt frustrated when receiving communications on the wrong channel.

You Can’t Take Legacy Content and Templates Into the Future

It’s also important to note that the right CCM solution can help enterprises avoid fines or fees due to regulatory issues. A damaged reputation can lead to retention issues and make it difficult to acquire new customers. With so many compliance risks related to legacy programs and technology, it’s imperative that financial institutions federate the creation and management of communications templates. “Write once and reuse everywhere” is a much better strategy for risk management than maintaining duplicate templates, and it dramatically improves operational efficiency.

Furthermore, cloud-based technology that integrates with other core systems will elicit big benefits, such as a cohesive, data-rich environment that financial services companies need. It also means quicker implementation of new products and a lower reliance on IT departments that may have other business initiatives to focus on. Instead of waiting for IT to update or fix legacy systems, daily users can make these quick updates and spend more time on customer service-oriented initiatives.

Whether hybrid or pure cloud, shifting to a modern CCM platform enables banks and financial institutions to connect more easily to core data and other systems in a way that elevates the possibility for personalization, a big benefit for customer experience.

Moving from Six to One: Australian Bank Simplifies Communications

One of the largest banks in Australia recently went through this process with a project focused on consolidating six different systems for CCM into one platform to be used across the enterprise. Key project drivers included the need to reduce operating costs, while making it easier and faster to respond to changes in the market. The bank opted to shift to a cloud-based platform to reduce costs and improve business resiliency. Its new platform further shifts template maintenance to the business users, creating a self-service business model that reduces demand on IT resources.

Evolve the Process for Addressing Critical Technology Needs

It’s clear that customers today expect more than batch statements when it comes to bank communications. Ultimately, financial institutions will succeed when they have the right cloud-based technology partners that can help them evolve and scale to meet these ever-changing needs while leveraging core systems and data. This is pivotal as banks shift from sending just regulated communications on a scheduled cadence to frequent, ongoing, and increasingly interactive engagement across various touchpoints.

Taking an enterprise approach to customer conversations means taking a hard look at the current customer journey experience throughout each stage of the lifecycle and how to optimize touchpoints across each channel (print/digital) and each use case (batch/on-demand statements, etc.) Banks need to partner with vendors to address these needs and create a strategic technology ecosystem that allows for business flexibility and agility to respond to change – whatever the next channel or market opportunity may arise.



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