By Jason Lark, Founder of Celerity Information Services
Retail divisions of traditional banks and building societies operate in a more competitive environment than ever before. Consumers have easy access to a myriad of financial products online and no longer need to visit the high street to open a bank account, invest their savings or borrow money. Because of this, banks need to reassess their customer communications and marketing strategies. Mass email campaigns and a few printed brochures in high street branches won’t sell a new financial product anymore. Instead, realisation is growing that customers need to be targeted at the right times and via the right channels, with products relevant to them. Luckily for these established institutions, they’re already sitting on a gold mine of customer data: now they need to get to grips with it and make it work for them.
Communicate the rights things, not any things
Effective customer communication is the key to nurturing and maintaining customer relationships; done well, it also enables financial institutions to upsell to those customers. After all, if you receive a personalised offer, via a communications channel you use regularly, about a savings product that makes sense for you at this point in your life, wouldn’t you be more likely to take up the offer? And, if this offer comes from a company you already know and trust, wouldn’t your attachment to that financial services provider increase? It’s highly likely that this would be the case – indeed, many businesses have found that customers are more receptive to this type of high quality, timely and consistent communication. Whether the product is a mortgage, a loan or an ISA, it is something that is likely to be closely aligned to a life stage, and a person’s suitability for these products is something we discern from data analysis.
Address the individual
Banks and building societies interact with customers across a wide range of media and channels. The first step to doing this successfully is to create a single customer view (SCV). This will provide a solid platform for data analysis to tell you who the customer is, what they need from you, and how best to engage with them. Done properly, the SCV will compress all the data you gather on every customer you have, so the marketing team can easily and automatically address those customers with the right offer at the right time.
With the right solution and technologies, what was once a complex personalisation process can be restructured across channels to build effective cross-departmental means of communication. For example, our solution for UK-based Skipton Building Society enabled it to streamline 150 million rows of data to ensure effective, organised communication, from every department and retail unit at the building society, with individual customers.
When it comes to actually using this data, automation is vital. In the past, marketers would spend hours manually building and sending campaigns and trying to segment customers to ensure the right messages were broadly sent to an appropriate target group. Automation increases marketing efficiency, and allows personalisation at a far larger scale and complexity, leading to happier and more loyal customers. Through the use of automation, Skipton improved marketing efficiency by 90 per cent and reduced the time it takes to develop and deliver bespoke, cross-channel marketing campaigns from 17 days to just two.
New marketing technologies have the potential to revolutionise customer communications in financial services organisations. By improving the efficiency and success of marketing campaigns, they dramatically improve return on investment. With the use of appropriate tech, banks and building societies can acquire more customers and improve retention rates, while ensuring customer satisfaction with appropriately personal engagement and interaction.