To build and fortify their customer relationships, banks need to view customers as individuals rather than as a series of disparate accounts. They will need to mine and aggregate customer interaction data from all bank channels and social media, make meaning from it, and then develop tailored offerings and services that suit consumer’s preferences and needs.
Siloed bank structures
An obvious strategy for the banking world, or so it seems. Most digital channels and data gathering practices do not focus on individual customer needs, but consider customers as rather anonymous segments. Most banks collect lots of data, but have no idea what their individual customer wants or needs.
Like all businesses, banks are taking their cue from the revolution in consumer electronics. While banks worked to recover form the financial crisis, technology companies surged forward with innovations that took consumers by storm. While some traditional businesses, such as delta Airlines, responded quickly, the same cannot be said of branch and call center-based banking.With few exceptions (Wells Fargo and bank of America adopted Facebook as a vehicle for client feedback), banks approached online channels as separate digital platforms and processes, siloed from their branch and call center-data.
Customer surveys however, indicate a preference for in-person support to resolve claims and provide advice for for complex, high-value transactions such as mortgage loans or retirement planning. Research by Cognizant’s Equinox consulting group and EFMA shows that nearly 80% of consumers affirm that the location of bank branches influences their choice of bank. But with branch revenues expected to decline 20-30% in the next 5-8 years, banks are under pressure to reduce the cost of branch operations, even as the in-branch customer experience becomes an increasingly flexible and optional step in the customer’s cross-chanel journey, according to the study.
Some customer-centric channel initiatives around the world:
French BNP Paribas rolled out a multi-channel model that provides customers with uniform, high-quality service. To better serve clients, the Paris-based company migrated its retail banking contact enters, branches and website to a common CRM environment. It implemented the system at 150 business centers over a period of six years and has replicated it in small business and private banking.
Santander Bank carefully customizes its multi-channel strategy by market geographic segment. In Spain, it deploys tablet apps and integrated CRM. In Chile, it emphasizes online sales, especially for commercial customers. In Mexico, its focus is the call center. A differentiated experience in each region is the result.
Most banks have yet a long way to go to put individual customers in the front seat. The arrogance that led to the financial crisis, has not disappeared sufficiently to return to the purpose of banking: serving your customers with financial support and advice.