Rebuilding Financial Communities

How customer intelligence creates a new foundation for financial services.

Man looking at computer.

by Adobe Financial Services Team

posted on 05-18-2020

In 1893, the city of Chicago hosted the World’s Fair — bringing together architects, artists, and business leaders to construct hundreds of buildings, canals, lagoons, and exhibitions inspired by global cultures. Over 27 million people visited, and Chicago revitalized itself as a major urban power. Most of the city burned down just 20 years before.

“Phoenix cities” throughout history have responded to crises with resilience. By making smart investments that boost their communities, these cities pushed forward to greater prosperity and renewed the confidence of their people.

The financial services industry is under similar construction. COVID-19 has unsettled economies and customers alike. People may be anxious about how they’ll access capital and banking services, repay loans, or if they need new health or unemployment insurance.

As with cities, the right response will create a new foundation of trust — nearly 9 in 10 consumers are likely or very likely to buy from a brand after it handles a crisis well, according to Crisp’s “2019 Crisis Impact Report.” Going forward, it’s crucial that financial institutions understand their customers, anticipate their needs, and invest in relevant services and initiatives.

Digital drives development

Financial services players must evolve with digital adoption. Institutions typically do business across a range of channels, but they can’t count on this flexibility in a crisis. Banks and credit unions can’t serve customers or make sales from closed branches, nor are their contact centers adequately equipped to handle the incoming traffic from in-store customers. Digital isn’t merely a nice-to-have cost saver — it is the critical way of doing business.

Companies with efficient digital services can gain from the migration to non-branch channels, but the industry at large has a way to go. Gartner recognized just 12 percent of financial services organizations as “digital transformers,” using tech to reveal new growth areas.

And while more financial services companies are making digital a top priority, there is still work to be done when it comes to putting customers front and center. In fact, Adobe’s “2020 Digital Trends Report: Financial Services and Insurance in Focus,” found that 49 percent of finance professionals describe their company’s customer experience measures as “not very advanced” — if present at all.

Customer intelligence is the foundation of better service

Customers are humans first, and they want to be recognized with empathy. “Treat me as a human, not as just a customer,” said 47 percent of respondents in one Accenture survey. Emergency broadcasts and blanket condolences offer little in times of stress. Instead, financial institutions need to dig deep into their analytics and data sets to get to know their customers.

Financial organizations must recognize the situation that customers are in and make things as easy for customers as possible. The only way to do so effectively is through customer intelligence.

Imagine this:

Think about the difference between a customer who completes a credit card application and another who abandons it — the latter needs something more from you. Segment analytics can help diagnose problems and solve them. For example, a customer who regularly deposits checks at an ATM can be directed towards easier and safer digital alternatives.

When financial institutions help their customers succeed, they build trust. As part of a customer intelligence strategy, financial services and insurance organizations can use segmentation to develop more specific segments, informed by each individual’s behavior and attuned to their needs. Then, to be truly effective, they must be able to tailor communications to those segments in real time, across channels.

Signals form a customer service blueprint

People send many stress signals in crisis situations. In doing so, they tell their institutions exactly what they need. Erratic investment decisions? Guide them away from mistakes. Missed mortgage payment? Waive it. Short-term loan requests? Find out why, and create a loan type that fits. Overdraft transaction? Freeze account fees — this could be a tough few months.

Getting the most out of behavioral data means acting fast. Customer needs change quickly, especially in volatile periods, and rash decisions can be hard to recover from.

Organizations should extract information from data sets, be it from ATMs, apps, call centers, or virtual assistants, and tie it back to each individual — keeping in mind that usage rights differ across financial products, services, and communication channels. It’s crucial that marketers use that data within privacy and governance structures.

Data schemas and models help. By categorizing personally identifiable information, as well as third-party, transactional, and demographic data, financial institutions can target the most relevant and appropriate information. The goal is to tie identifying and behavioral data together. After making that connection, financial brands can serve customers in the right way, in real time.

Rising stronger than before

Like cities, financial organizations and their customers are complex, evolving ecosystems. Weathering instability means investing with people in mind — building new capabilities with digital adoption, customer intelligence solutions, segment analytics, and data management. In crisis and beyond, customers will trust your course of action if you help them to thrive.

As financial services organizations operate in increasingly distributed environments, it’s a top priority to find technology that makes insights and customer intelligence best practices accessible to everyone in the organization. Understand the data, understand the customer.

Learn how we’re helping financial services connect with their customers.

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Topics: Financial Services, Personalization, COVID-19

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