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Modern financial services institutions continue to face new challenges. On top of more competition from digital banks and non-traditional fintechs entering the market, world events, inflation, layoffs, and big bank failures are creating a lot of anxiety around money. All companies — and especially banks and credit unions — are under pressure to fight even harder to establish the confidence and credibility needed to attract new customers/members as well as win the loyalty of the ones they already have.
This is why a laser focus on building trust and improving the customer experience through personalization is what is driving financial services sales and marketing today. Really understanding your customer and establishing a deeper relationship with them by proactively catering to their needs and wants is key to profitability — especially in such uncertain times.
“71% of business and technology professionals at commercial banking firms say that improving the experience of their customers is a high or critical priority.”— Forrester 2022
To do personalization “right,” and truly differentiate yourself from the competition, you have to deliver the right experience through the right channel at the right time. After all, who hasn’t made a purchase and then received an ad or email trying to sell you the same product again? Annoying, right?
Leading financial companies are leveraging the latest digital automation technology and AI-powered tools to unify customer profile data and connect sales and marketing efforts to ensure this doesn’t happen to them. They’re able to create the customized, pertinent, end-to-end experiences today’s customers demand.
What a Personalized Customer Experience Looks Like
It started with digital giants such as Amazon and Netflix and was accelerated by the pandemic. And now customers have developed extremely high expectations when it comes to financial services.
Just like with their retail interactions, they expect their bank or credit union to know them, understand them, and care about them. This is what builds loyalty and trust. According to Forrester, customers who have strong trust in their primary bank overwhelmingly indicated a greater likelihood to:
- Recommend the bank to friends and family
- Prefer the bank over its competitors
- Open an additional account
- Use additional products or services
In reality, though, many banks fall short of meeting these customer expectations. According to this The Financial Brand blog, “while 83 percent of consumers stated a concern about their long-term financial situation, and 66 percent want their bank or credit union to understand them on a one-to-one basis, relatively few financial services firms (32 percent) are in alignment with this need.”
You might be thinking that, in general, people don’t need financial services products very often. However, they do tend to check their accounts a lot, even daily, through online and mobile channels. This creates the ideal opportunity to engage with personalized interactions.
Personalization in banking is about providing relevant services or advice to strengthen relationships and reduce attrition. The impact on long- and short-term value can be huge — improving performance and customer satisfaction, making marketing and sales more efficient, and increasing revenue and wallet share.
“Boston Consulting Group (BCG) estimates that for every $100B in assets that a bank has, it can achieve as much as $300M in revenue growth by personalizing its customer interactions.”
Bottom line, connecting your sales and marketing to deliver personalized experiences is no longer just a nice to have, it is a must have.
The Benefits of Realizing a Personalized Experience
There are many different means of developing personalized content, and most customers say they want it, but does it really produce results? In a Harvard Business Review survey 64 percent of respondents acknowledged that their businesses’ personalization strategies had a positive impact on their revenue gains, with 19 percent saying that it had a “big” impact. Other studies have seen similar results as well.
Providing proactive and personalized service to customers offers several key benefits for financial services companies:
- Enhanced customer satisfaction — Proactive and personalized service demonstrates a deep understanding of customers’ individual needs, preferences, and financial goals. By anticipating customer needs and addressing them proactively, financial services companies can deliver tailored recommendations, offers, and solutions that align with each customer’s unique circumstances. This level of personalization enhances customer satisfaction, as customers feel valued and supported throughout their financial journey. It fosters a sense of trust and loyalty, leading to long-term customer relationships and positive word-of-mouth referrals.
- Increased customer retention and loyalty — When financial services companies consistently provide proactive and personalized service, they create a superior customer experience. Customers who receive tailored advice, relevant product recommendations, and timely support are more likely to stay loyal to the company. By consistently meeting and exceeding customer expectations, companies can reduce customer churn and increase retention rates. This leads to a more stable customer base, higher customer lifetime value, and increased profitability for the company.
- Competitive advantage and differentiation — In today’s highly competitive financial services landscape, companies that go the extra mile in providing proactive and personalized service gain a significant competitive advantage. By offering customized experiences, companies differentiate themselves from their competitors and stand out in the market. This differentiation attracts new customers who are seeking personalized financial solutions and builds a reputation for excellence in customer service. As a result, the company can position itself as a trusted advisor and preferred choice for customers, setting itself apart in a crowded marketplace.
The rewards of personalization are apparent but, like anything worth doing, it requires a commitment to be done well. You should explore and employ multiple strategies so that personalization feels authentic, and not just a few customizable fields on an email. You should also carefully consider the style and degree of personalization, as it can cause harm if done poorly. A Gartner report shows that 38 percent of customers will reportedly stop doing business if a personalization effort is too “creepy” and invasive of personal information.
Building a Clear View of Your Customers
We have created an insightful infographic “Building a Clear View of Your Customers: Collaboration Across Your Business” to help you navigate this changing landscape.Learn More
How Businesses Can Achieve Personalization
Connecting Sales and Marketing
More customers are engaging across channels and seeking out information alone or with their peers, rather than working through traditional sales channels. This makes it more important than ever for marketing and sales teams to be hyper connected when understanding who their customers are, where they are in their journey, and how to best engage them — on their terms.
“Forrester found that for 85% of sales and marketing leaders, alignment is the largest opportunity for improving business performance today.”
At Hitachi Solutions, we understand AI-driven, end-to-end business solutions break down silos and centralize customer data to help increase sales, engagement, and customer loyalty. This connected view of the sales and marketing funnel revolutionizes how financial services providers do business and:
- Have more meaningful and valuable interactions with customers
- Predict customer intent and needs
- Accelerate sales and marketing efforts and revenue
- Automate the sales process and boost productivity
Key elements to creating this connected experience include unified data and collaboration, automation and analytics, and multi-channel delivery:
Start with Unified Data
Forging deeper relationships and providing proactive personalization at scale requires a single view of the customer/member and real-time and historical insights into behavior, transactions, and life events. That means the journey always begins with data.
Data is the key to turning relationships into revenue and most banks and credit unions are sitting on a goldmine of siloed data. The challenge is how to use it to your advantage. Because when data resides in silos, with disparate tools and processes, it’s difficult to access and glean any meaningful insights. And if you have a different profile in marketing and a different profile in sales, it’s impossible to align messaging and communications.
You need a single 360-degree view of the customer. With a customer data platform (CDP), you can collect and access data from your different systems all in one place. Then data can be centralized from all related systems and sources — including in-person, phone, social media, online and video chat, text, email, direct mail, the internet, CRM, and more — to create a comprehensive profile of the customer’s interests, preferences, and needs.
Now you can tailor marketing messaging and sales promotions to each customer, increasing the likelihood of a positive response and conversion. Moreover, a unified profile can help you identify patterns and trends, so you can optimize strategies that will improve engagement and retention.
Add Predictive AI-Driven Insights
But data alone is not enough. All of this amounts to very little if you don’t have the right tools with which to manage and access the data. Artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics tools take your data and assess it to provide eye-opening, real-time insights into customer/member life events and activities so you can be proactive and predictive.
Data analytics can also assess profitability and fit for products and services based on a range of other factors such as industry, credit tier, household segment, and market. Modern solutions can even track the success or failure of marketing initiatives in-flight and provide qualitative feedback on how these initiatives align with respective target groups.
A McKinsey report on AI in the banking industry states that the value of AI in financial services can be more than $1 trillion every year.”
AI personalization can be used to predict actions and needs. This allows you to be proactive in reaching out to customers with personalized messaging, advice, or recommendations, as well as tailoring exclusive offers or promotions.
On the sales side, AI-infused chatbots and virtual assistants can provide instant customer support, answer inquiries, and assist with next-best steps and product advise and recommendations.
Meet Customers Where They Are
Meeting customers/members where they are through a strong omnichannel approach is another step to elevating customer/member service. All channels and interactions are connected and offer the same, seamless experience — whether digital or physical.
The idea is to help further tear down those customer data silos and make it even easier to customize communications and offers. It’s exciting because it allows you to provide smooth and consistent interactions for the customer/member and arm employees with the power to personalize service and be more proactive with other products and cross-selling and up-selling opportunities.
With a full picture of customer history, behavior, and needs, sellers and marketers are always in sync and able to personalize all the moments that make up the buying journey and be proactive instead of reactive — leading to happier and more loyal customers/members and accelerated revenue generation.
Use Case: How AI Helps You Keep Customers
With the shocking collapse of two prominent banks earlier this year, many people are, rightly, concerned about the safety of their investments and the health of their financial institutions. This is the time you need to know what your customers/members are thinking and doing.
After all, it is significantly more expensive to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one — according to Forbes, it can cost five to seven times more. And existing customers are 50 percent more likely to try new products and spend 31 percent more than new customers.
AI gives you the insights into your customers that allow you to see if they are adding external accounts or withdrawing or transferring large sums of money — all potential signs they might be ready to leave. Knowing this is invaluable because you can now be proactive in reaching out with the appropriate messaging. You can reassure them about the safety and security of their assets, advise them on how to diversify, or let them know you have partnerships or services to ensure they can trust you and won’t lose their money if they stay.
Discover the Power of Connected Sales and Marketing with Hitachi Solutions
As you can see, enormous opportunities exist to use data and digital transformation to drive value and accelerate revenue. And for financial services companies to succeed, they need to continue to orchestrate tailored, connected, end-to-end customer experiences.
Hitachi Solutions is a premier Microsoft partner with the experience and technical and industry know-how to bring financial services solutions to life. Leading companies are moving fast to find new and innovative strategies to do more with less and stay ahead of the competition. With our expertise and unique ability to innovate, Hitachi Solutions can help you do the same.
If you’re ready to up your personalization game and discover the power of connected sales and marketing to enhance customer visibility, build insights, and be more proactive, please reach out! For more info on connected sales and marketing for financial services solutions, check out this helpful infographic.