By Maurizio Canton, EMEA Chief Technology Officer at TIBCO Software
Becoming more customer focused is a goal shared by many financial organisations, but reaching that goal has recently become more complex. In fact, the rule book has essentially been torn up.
In the past, it was sufficient for a business to create a product or service and then seek out customers who would be likely to want it. Now this has changed as businesses must adjust, react to shifting consumer demands, and deliver an engaging experience if they are to compete and drive revenue and profitability.
Importantly, this means being able to pick up on even the most subtle of changes in customer behaviour and make the timely interventions required to deliver on these heightened expectations. Maintaining optimal service through a preferred channel, at a preferred time, must be offered as standard to secure customer loyalty.
Understanding the customer
Getting to this point begins with having a far better knowledge of the customer so they are seen as individuals rather than a segment to place into convenient categories. Only then is it possible to understand their personal motivations behind the purchase journey.
This might include what keeps them on a particular web page or establishing why they haven’t renewed a subscription. Here, the value of customer intelligence and the speed with which it can be collated and utilised becomes the game-changer.
It is, of course, an entirely logical progression. Thanks to recent strides in digital technology, there is a far more multi-layered and expansive pool of customer data to work with. This has served to relegate the traditional reliance on focus groups and surveys that barely scratch the surface to the distant past.
Similarly, customer information is no longer confined to the parameters of a CRM database. Real-time sales feedback, peer-to peer exchanges that play out across online communities, as well as call centre data, can provide far more meaningful and richer insights and, when combined, a much fuller picture. The challenge, therefore, becomes how to centralise and integrate all the disparate strands of data and harness analytics to drive actionable insight for faster and more intuitive decision-making.
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The importance of connection
It's only by interconnecting everything, from on-premise IT and cloud applications to microservices, APIs and connected devices, that it becomes possible to have the right foundation on which to base a more contextually-fluid approach for the customer experience. This can then consider an individual’s location, intent, community, and even environment and be ready to introduce far greater personalisation into the experience.
It’s a process that has brought significant transformation to the financial services industry, as it strives to meet the increasingly ‘anywhere, anytime’ service expectations of customers with greater digital innovation and flexibility - particularly through mobile and social services.
Advanced algorithms undertake deep content analysis of a customer’s financial status, objectives and risk aversion. They can also respond to the nuances of their personality, behaviour and even current mood with more pertinent offerings.
Furthermore, intelligent apps make financial information more accessible and user friendly, so there is less need to trawl through the reams of literature and competing information - something that is perfect for the digitally savvy but time poor.
Linking goals to services
This process has reaped dividends when it comes to the consumption of investment services. This is an area that has long been in need of an overhaul, as perceptions around costs and complexity deter a broader audience. Companies that consider the fundamental question of why someone is investing in the first place, and then link the product to their specific goals and milestones such as saving for house or tuition fees, are able to provide a more personal touch.
Further tailored interventions include features that encourage socially responsible investment decisions and offer a sliding scale of ethical organisations based on set criteria. They can also introduce a more conversational and collaborative approach to investment decisions by linking the customer to relevant online communities.
For the customer, there may be a frictionless continuity across channels, but behind the scenes things might be working overtime to deliver it. There could be a complex infrastructure spanning integration, event processing, analytics, and master data management which must be both flexible and robust to prevent data loss and ensure security isn’t compromised.
This situation needs to be changed. The connected customer necessitates a fully connected architecture, free from silos and with a common set of processes for each channel. This, in turn, ensures customer interactions can be managed and tracked with total uniformity.
Today’s customer doesn’t make any allowances if latency compromises their online experience or if their details are forgotten or mislaid as they channel hop. Businesses need to realise this and take the steps necessary now to provide the type of experience that their customers are demanding.
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