New digital players have emerged as consumers try new brands and ways to purchase products. Our recent survey of top executives in the financial services, insurance and marketing industries found that 89% agreed customers have been rewired digitally. 80% of respondents said they have seen changes to customer journeys or completely new ones. The overwhelming majority of senior executives (86%) believe that the pace of change will continue for the foreseeable future.
Innovative financial service brands share one thing in common: a laser-focused focus on digital customer experiences. They offer highly personalized and convenient experiences that are becoming increasingly popular with consumers. Larger banks and insurance companies now have to offer similar personalized experiences on a large scale.
The challenge is not just about personalization technology. It is also about creating meaningful experiences that provide value to customers and address their most pressing issues. To do this, the industry requires deeper understanding of their customers and evolving needs.
Adobe and Econsultancy teamed up to create the 2022 Digital Trends — Financial Services In Focus report. This report helps financial service providers better understand today’s digital-first environment. We looked at what industry leaders are doing differently to others, and how they are “significantly outperforming” their sector or exceeding their customers’ expectations.
Personalization is difficult, but personalization at large is more difficult
We surveyed technologists and marketers from financial service companies that had outperformed their peers. 53% of those surveyed said that their organizations valued meaningful digital interactions that helped improve their customers’ financial health. The 38% and 37%, respectively, were significantly lower than those who slightly outperformed the sector.
Personalization is essential for creating meaningful experiences. This may prove difficult for many financial service organizations, according to our research. Only 12% of respondents agreed that the digital experience of their company is in line with customer expectations. A substantial majority (58%) said they are just “keeping up” with customers’ expectations.
It may not be as difficult as you think to improve personalized experiences. Three key strategies financial service companies can use to increase personalization at scale are highlighted in our findings
- Get control of your customer data.
- With the right technology, unify and activate all your data.
- Enhance cross-functional collaboration
Strategy #1: Get control of your customer data
Understanding your customers is essential to deliver memorable experiences for them. Understanding them means combining all data from different sources, journey stages and segments to create a coherent picture. This is a difficult task for any customer. It can also be daunting for millions of customers. Therefore, the top investment area in the industry is in improving insights and analytics capabilities. We asked top executives to pick their top technology priorities in 2022. 65% of them chose data and insight.
However, the industry still faces many obstacles in obtaining the data it requires. Google Chrome will stop supporting third-party cookies. This means that marketers won’t have the same access to the data they need at the beginning of the customer journey. The critical problem is that the large amounts of data financial institutions collect directly from customers — collectively called first-party data – is dispersed and unconnected across multiple systems.
Some financial institutions might not be able to see where all their customer data is at any one time. Even if they have a complete map of customer data, it is possible that they are not using it to unlock customer insights or deliver exceptional customer experiences. Our research has shown that financial service executives are more confident in gathering first-party information (63%) or preparing for a post third-party cookie environment (51%).
First-party data is becoming more important as the industry places more emphasis on retention and engagement to increase customer relationships’ value. First-party data strategies are a key advantage for financial services firms today over slower competitors.
Strategy #2: Unify your customer data and activate it in real-time
The first step in identifying a first-party strategy for data is not enough. Personalization at scale requires a combination key elements. These include the ability to produce content across an enterprise in order to meet the demands of personalization, and the ability deliver consistent and relevant journeys across touchpoints. Technology plays a vital role in ensuring that these three pillars are integrated to create, deliver, optimize, and optimize real time, cross-channel journeys.
This requires consistent data collection across all channels, continuous updates to customer profiles, high-volume content creation, and management. You will also need to connect your customer and journey profiles with each customer touchpoint technology so that experiences are consistent, personalized, and meaningful across all channels.
These solutions are being adopted by financial services companies more frequently. Executives also ranked data and insights (57%) and enterprise data architecture (57%) as their top technology priorities. Content management technology (47%), and customer journey (50%) were also high on the list. A growing number of practitioners and executives see the role of artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning within their customer experience tech stack. 25% of respondents to the survey said that AI deployment is one of their top three priorities in order to better serve customers.
Some senior executives in financial services may have unrealistic expectations about their technological capabilities. We asked 31% of them if they believed their companies had the tools necessary to support personalization. Only 15% of practitioners agreed. Leadership teams must validate their assumptions to meet business objectives.
Financial services firms know that data alone won’t suffice. A tech stack must be able to connect to customer journeys and profiles to enable personalized experiences that are channel-specific and scale to meet customer needs at every stage of their journey.
Strategy #3: Make it easier for people to collaborate
Personalizing customer experiences is a challenge. Each part of a customer journey can be managed by different functional areas. Marketing controls the website content, while product or technology manages the mobile app. Customer service handles digital chat. Each of these elements must be customized and connected to create a seamless customer experience.
This requires cross-departmental collaboration. It involves managing change well, fostering transparency and openness within the organization and choosing and integrating appropriate technologies. Our research shows that financial service companies’ marketing professionals who consider their digital experience to be “ahead” of customer expectations rate their organization highly in terms of collaboration, agility and innovation.
Our research also showed that many financial service companies have the potential to collaborate even more effectively. We asked 44% of senior executives whether they believed that different marketing and experience teams could work together successfully. 44% of senior executives said that they were either working on it (48%), or hadn’t yet started to think about it (8%) Similar results were found for executives. 35% said they had reduced organizational silos consistently, 56% said that they are working on it and 9% said they hadn’t started.
Bottom line: Improved collaboration can quickly translate into improved customer experience, including more personalization.
It’s all possible
Financial services providers typically have all the customer data necessary to create personalized experiences at scale. These organizations must ensure that they have the technology in place to link their customer data to meaningful customer profiles. They also need the ability to integrate these profiles with systems that power customer touchpoints. This will allow for better collaboration among all teams that are involved in the customer experience.