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Removing Data Silos to Reach the Holy Grail of Financial Services

Alan Donnelly, Head of Financial Services, Salesforce [NYSE: CRM]
Alan Donnelly, Head of Financial Services, Salesforce [NYSE: CRM]

Alan Donnelly, Head of Financial Services, Salesforce [NYSE: CRM]

One of the biggest fears for any banking organisation is losing customer loyalty. With the disruptive forces of technology changing the game in financial services, banks are transforming to keep up with ever-changing customer demands.

So how exactly can banks adopt a strategy where they place customers at the centre to better engage with them? This article will discuss the technologies which are empowering financial services to be more intelligent and customer-centric.

Sticking with the status quo

Banking has been one of the most entrenched and traditional industries that we, as consumers, come into contact with on a daily basis. With almost every person using a bank account, big blue-chip organisations with solid banking heritage have dominated the financial lives of most people for generations. For years, banks have been used to disproportionate levels of prolonged customer loyalty. For many of our parents or grandparents, the thought of moving their financial footprint from one company to another was not a practical or desirable option. However, that perception has now been overturned.

 The digital transformation of financial services has turned it into a mobile-first and on-demand service that puts convenience at the centre of its offering  

The same way as you wouldn’t think twice about buying socks from a different store if they were slightly cheaper and better quality, moving bank accounts is a much less daunting prospect today. The digital transformation of financial services has turned it into a mobile-first and on-demand service that puts convenience at the centre of its offering. While banks may consider increased consumer agility as a threat to their loyalty, it’s far better to view it as an opportunity to form deeper and more productive customer relationships.

Ushering in a new era of financial services

For the financial services industry, the younger digital natives have brought a need to reassess not only how banks use digital channels, but the level of value-add services which surprise and delight. This new generation of consumers has higher expectations, demand speed and convenience. They will move around if they don’t feel companies understand them. In a world where you can check your balance, transfer money, and open new savings account in just a few clicks, patience is not a necessary virtue.

The fintech boom is the ultimate driver of this. The success of challenger companies such as Monzo, Paypal, Starling, and Revolut, has shown a growing appetite for next-generation money management. These industry disruptors have applied pressure to more established counterparts, prompting an innovation race from financial service organisations big and small. While young fintechs seek market share which has been dominated by a relative few for many decades, the industry giants know they must respond by making their services more accessible, convenient, and intuitive.

It’s not yet known who the winners of this digital race will ultimately be. What is for sure is that the real winners are the customers. As larger banks introduce new digital services and capabilities, financial services will become more personal, faster, and useful for customers throughout their working and personal lives.

Mapping the customer journey

Data is not the same as information. Data becomes information once it has been analysed, understood, and put into context. Its value is limited until this has happened, so it is vital that this becomes a new reality.

All financial service organisations have systems of record that most people don’t come into contact with. The metadata which resides in these systems is collected over the course of months and years to track information about what services customers are using and what communications they’ve subscribed to.

On the other hand, banking businesses have systems of marketing which people do come into contact with – front-end customer service applications, branch staff, and financial advisors. The crucial element for banks is to ensure that these two systems are aligned and turn data into information that can be used to improve the customer experience and upsell services by better understanding them.

Customers don’t want to deal with the frustrations of speaking to a mortgage adviser who doesn’t know that they have a current account with their bank. Legacy systems can often stop this data flow between departments and so doesn’t allow for a holistic view of the customer. You can empower that mortgage adviser to connect the dots with access to data that resides in systems that have typically otherwise been difficult to reach or navigate. More importantly, by accessing these systems of records, the advisor can then impresses the customer and make them feel valued.

The personal touch increases the likelihood of customers choosing to benefit from more services. Financial decisions are at the centre of a customer’s life, so mapping those journeys and life points is made all the easier when banks have the ability to make sense of data.

The 360-degree customer view

Knowledge is power in the race to ultimate convenience and financial services of all sizes are looking to new digital strategies and platforms that will give them the edge. For CEOs, the holy grail is having a 360-degree customer view so they can attract, add value, and retain customers in a cohesive way.

Large organisations have the wealth of data to gain this view, but they need to be able to unlock it and legacy systems make this difficult. Outdated technology causes operational inefficiency and impersonal, ineffective interactions with customers, especially if an organisation doesn’t have the necessary systems in place to help connect important information across all departments. Whereas start-ups often have a technology advantage, they don't necessarily have the data. Salesforce enables companies to tap into their metadata, loading their systems of marketing like CRM platforms with insightful information.

Financial services organisations can take advantage of hybrid cloud technologies to break down silos to win new customer relationships by empowering a faster and more personal customer service. This strategy will be the key to meeting their customers growing expectations on agile and holistic service.

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