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 By Adam Sherrard, Senior Solutions Consultant, Diebold Nixdorf UK/I

 Imagine you walk up to an ATM to withdraw cash, and it automatically recognises you. It knows all of your personal details and remembers the sort of transactions you usually complete, making it easy for you to take out the amount of cash that you need. Now imagine it does that all on a personalised interface, and even offers to text you a receipt afterwards. This is real personalisation in the banking world.

Some financial institutions might feel that true personalisation is a far off reality but it doesn’t have to be and it is important for today’s customers. Recent data from KPMG has found that personalisation accounts for nearly one quarter of the overall customer experience and has an impact on customer loyalty. Meanwhile, the Digital Banking Report has found that 62 per cent of consumers say they’re not confident that their financial institution understands their specific needs and preferences[i].

It’s clearly time for the banking community to stop relying on the traditional ‘one size fits all’ approach and consider how they can gain competitive advantage by offering more customer-centric services. Software, with its ability to customise interactions and provide contextual engagement, is crucial for banks that are on a journey towards providing their customers with a more personalised future.

So, what do customers want?

Each customer is unique and so the question of what they want is, by default, a difficult one to answer. However, each experience a customer has with their financial services provider should also be unique – customers want their bank to know about their savings targets, their lifestyle and their major life events so that they can have a better, more relevant service in return. After all, if a customer has just taken out a fixed term mortgage they might not want to see new mortgage offers, but they might be interested in home improvement loans.

At the same time these experiences must be personalised across a blend of physical and digital channels. A customer should be able to start a transaction online and then walk into a branch to complete it. Customers are becoming far more familiar with new technologies and interacting with self-service systems and innovative technology in many industries. In fact some customers are even demanding more comprehensive technological solutions to ensure effective, customised interactions.

According to the 2016 Future of Retail Banking report from Market Force, “customers are getting used to being the centre of their own curated universe, with personalised shopping recommendations and on demand entertainment” and banks have to be ready to respond to these trends.

Turning to software to make personalisation happen

A global survey of banking leaders by The Financial Brand shows that only 37 per cent of organisations have a formal plan in place to make personalisation happen. For these organisations – and for those that are yet to get started – innovation and software can play a key role.

Software can help customers transition from digital to physical channels, such as from a mobile to a self-service system and then back again in a single session. The ability to create a truly connected service not only improves the end-user experience, but ensures each channel is adding value as a customer service and marketing platform in its own right. This can only be effective by joining up multiple platforms seamlessly and software is the ‘glue’ which can help banks achieve this.

Data analysis is crucial within financial services and the right software strategy can also assist with this. Unified software can help organisations understand their customer behaviour patterns, present individuals with relevant content, targeted messaging, and timely offers within the self-service environment and also more generally across digital signage within the branch. It can also help banks develop a single view of the customer from an internal perspective, tying up previously disconnected channels.

By introducing efficiencies, automation technology can also be used to make processes more customer friendly. Automation is most successful when it uses data-driven insights to make customer journeys personal, to save time, give customers the information they need when they need it, and to assist staff with one-to-one conversations.

Updating legacy software

Most banks have significant legacy IT challenges arising from ageing systems that have seen layer on layer of technology added over the years. Many also face integration challenges arising from mergers. These legacy systems were not designed to provide the 360-degree customer view that’s needed today, with data often residing in silos which were not designed to share or interact.

Often systems are also expensive to maintain and complex to modify, making it hard to stay ahead of changing market needs, with new features and functionality taking time to develop and integrate.

Upgrading in-branch software might seem arduous, yet it can be done with a high degree of control and staged timings to avoid either risk or disruption. There are many potential routes – and each organisation’s path will be different – but transformation involves a combination of both migration and modernisation. 

Embarking on the software journey

The decisions which banking leaders make today will determine their future. Delivering a connected customer experience requires financial institutions to ensure that customers can interact in branch as they do online or via mobile apps. However given that transition projects can take time to implement, particularly when competing with inflexible IT infrastructures, it’s important that they act now to stay competitive tomorrow.

Financial institutions need to ensure that they make best use of the tools at their disposal and future-proof software to enable the changes that are an inevitable part of the continued evolution of banking transformation. With consumers demanding more choice, banks can ward off the challenge of new competitors by using technology and software to deliver better customer experiences, with personalisation emerging as a key area for differentiation.

As new players try their best to grab a slice of the banking pie, banks must invest now to redefine the banking experience, personalise the customer journey and reinforce their commitment to meeting the needs of the modern banking consumer.