Gone are the days of a linear banking experience. The banking journey has evolved into a dynamic path, defined by a proliferation of touchpoints and owned by customers who desire a better omnichannel experience.
However, financial institutions are facing major challenges in not only meeting consumers’ omnichannel demands, but also delivering on customer engagement and hyper-personalization. To meet these demands, stay relevant, and compete on experience, banks and credit unions need to organize their data into a single point of control and offer dynamic, individualized customer banking experiences — something some refer to as smart banking.
The key first step in accomplishing this lofty goal is embracing digital transformation. Marketers must recognize that today’s wide range of touchpoints are an opportunity to deliver additional value to the consumer and improve their overall omnichannel experience. To translate customer data from these touchpoints into business value, financial institutions must have the ability to blend their massive volumes of data into a single point of control over data, decisions, and interactions.
It is only when financial institutions have the most complete, immediate and accurate understanding of their customers that they can leverage effective, data-activated marketing. According to McKinsey, this can boost total sales by 15% to 20%.
However, organizing data into a single point of control is easier said than done. Here are four crucial steps that will help financial institutions prepare their data for optimized omnichannel engagement:
1. Retrieve Real-Time Data
The average customer’s path to purchase is dynamic and fast-moving. As a result, banks and credit unions need to respond quickly and with relevance if they hope to avoid missing a key engagement or succumbing to customer attrition.
To respond in the moment of need, it’s essential that marketers have access to updated data in real or near-real time. Traditional marketing technologies such as data lakes and data warehouses only update at a batch cadence and are ill-suited to meet this real-time requirement.
To match the quick-moving nature of customer engagement, financial institutions need a low latency enterprise solution, such as a Customer Data Platform (CDP). A CDP can accept batch and streaming data equally, structure it, process it and update customer profiles accordingly.
2. Test Data Quality
A crucial facet of data-driven personalization is having high-quality data. When data isn’t thoroughly cleansed and structured, it can lead to a broken view of customers’ cross-channel and cross-device whereabouts and behaviors.
To make sense of the overwhelming amount of unstructured data available to the company, and to do it at the scale necessary to provide contextually relevant interactions in real-time, marketers need to heavily automate their processes. Using spreadsheets or manual inputs to sort through data will no longer suffice.
Marketers must now embrace automated solutions that can provide an always-on, always-processing unified customer profile. Data hubs such as CDPs offer this capability and can manage data from any source in their cleansing and structuring process, quickly providing marketers the insights they need for timely and personalized messaging.
3. Create a Single Customer View
The modern customer creates an enormous collection of data through dozens of digital and physical touchpoints, and this data is typically split between disparate platforms, solutions, and interfaces within the enterprise. To meet customer expectations and provide seamless transitions between digital and physical touchpoints, financial institutions must eliminate internal silos and blend anonymous and known data into one composite customer profile.
Solutions like customer data platforms (CDPs), especially those with an “open garden” approach, are capable of ingesting data from various point solutions into a single view, regardless of structure, cadence, or volume. This aggregation of data provides a deeper understanding of the customer and a more complete view that can be used for long-term customer engagement success.
4. Make Data Accessible
Once you’ve created a single customer view, it’s extremely important to make this unified data accessible to the solutions and departments that need it most. Some companies limit access to their data stores to keep data secure, but this practice also makes it harder for marketers and other end-users to react in real-time when a customer is engaging with the company.
To prevent data from becoming functionally useless, business users need to have access to the data without having to make endless requests to the IT team. This access empowers them to act at the speed of the customer and operationalize data for more effective engagement.
Lightly personalized welcome campaigns and awareness messages will no longer be enough. With 26% of consumers citing personalization as the most important reason they join a bank and 37% saying it’s the main reason they decide to deepen an existing bank relationship, according to Boston Consulting Group, personalization must be a strategic goal for all financial institutions moving forward.
This is especially true for the 94% of banking firms that Digital Banking Report found are still unable to deliver on the promise of personalization. By following the steps above, brands can embrace digital transformation and fully leverage their data for optimized omnichannel engagement. With the right solutions, they can deliver real-time messages that match the omnipresent customer’s needs, interests, and behaviors on their desired channels and touchpoints.
This is the key to entering the era of smart banking. The ability to create personalized messaging based on customers’ unique journeys and deliver top-notch experiences in real-time will be financial institutions’ competitive advantage moving forward. Once mastered, it can lead to more efficient operations, increased profits, and an entirely transformed retail branch experience.