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AI + data + CRM = More personalized banking

By using technology to develop insights, financial institutions can gain a more holistic view of their customers and design better digital channels.

Sep 18, 2023 / Technology

Despite dramatic advances in automation, digital banking’s promise of insightful, personalized customer experiences remains elusive. 

Marketing messages about products or services often miss the mark, and customers still feel their bank doesn’t understand them. Customer service is still largely reactive and fails to anticipate client needs. Though bankers can generally see customers’ day-to-day transactions, the data is almost never presented in a personal way that helps inform customer advice. 

Banks can change the story by analyzing the volumes of transactional data buried in their core banking and third-party systems, combining it with insight from their customer relationship management system, and using artificial intelligence to reveal key actions. Suggestions can then be delivered to employees to provide more personalized interactions with customers in real time. 

For example, analyzing the high-volume data that includes day-to-day activities—such as the swipe of a credit card, a deposit into a savings account or a bill payment—can help identify suspicious transactions or surface spending patterns customers may not be aware of. 

Properly analyzed, data can translate into a single, comprehensive view of a customer and allow banks to deliver consistent and relevant interactions across digital channels and departments. Bankers can provide more personalized financial guidance for customers. Marketers can serve up laser-focused, customized offers. Loan officers can ensure their customers take on the right amount of debt given their circumstances. Contact center agents armed with valuable, real-time intelligence can resolve issues faster. And customers sense that someone at the bank is truly listening to them. 


A financial institution’s relationship with a customer typically begins with onboarding, which is increasingly done through websites or apps. But for many customers, this process can be a disjointed and sometimes unsettling experience.  

Abandonment rates are high, and many customers end up visiting a physical branch to complete an application they started online. It is just as frustrating for bankers trying to pick up where the customer left off, and the applications used by bankers are typically siloed. Bankers reluctantly have to request documents that the customer may have already submitted or ask them to repeat the information collected online, such as Know Your Customer data. Collection and verification of KYC data, which includes identity and other financial documentation, is time consuming. 

The banker then has to communicate with mid-or back-office staff responsible for document approvals and identity verification. These team members use yet another system to complete their tasks and provide updates back to the bankers via email, phone calls or face-to-face conversations. The process is disjointed and slow, and makes it difficult to let customers know where they are in the process. 

With an automated workflow driven by AI, client facing onboarding staff and the customers themselves can easily ascertain where things stand. Customers know exactly what the bank is waiting on and how long the remaining steps are expected to take. All internal stakeholders are aware of the current application status. With a seamless and transparent onboarding process, clients are more likely to look to the bank for additional products and services when they need them. 

Once onboarded, most customer interactions with the bank become service related. The customer may have noticed a transaction on their account that wasn’t theirs, or they may want to add a cosigner to a loan application. 

Many of these service interactions require an exchange of information and documents and coordination within the bank. These processes are still highly manual and a major pain point for both the customer and the banker. Data must be drawn from many different systems and stakeholders that have little process transparency. But here again, an integrated, AI-driven CRM that draws from multiple data sources and follows a well-defined workflow can streamline the process. 


Salesforce research finds that financial services customers are increasingly comfortable with the use of AI to improve their customer experience. In 2020, 60% of customers surveyed said they were comfortable with AI. In 2022, that figure rose to 69%. 

Now, with better command of the data facilitated by AI, banks can quickly resolve issues and convert otherwise negative interactions into positive ones. Through data analysis and AI algorithms, banks can assess creditworthiness, evaluate risk profiles and make lending decisions that are better for the customer and better for the bank. AI can also help in real-time fraud detection by identifying suspicious patterns and anomalies in transactions. Banks can offer victims of fraud relevant products and services, such as credit monitoring or intelligent alerts to avoid fees. 

Regulatory compliance is a significant portion of banks’ operating costs, and that expense continues to rise, driven by the ongoing move to digital, the increasing sophistication of cybercriminals and the resulting evolution of the regulatory landscape. 

A study by Deloitte found that operating costs spent on compliance for retail and corporate banks have risen more than 60% since the 2008-2009 financial crisis. Using predefined workflows with built-in compliance, regulatory requirements—often subject to change—are more easily met, and manual processing is reduced, which cuts both complexity and costs. 

AI can also be used to identify bottlenecks and improve workflows, leading to huge cost savings for banks. By easily resolving routine disputes and streamlining application processing, banks can focus on more meaningful interactions, like providing guidance on products or timely financial education to clients who really need it. 

Digital banking is a faceless and impersonal experience for many customers. Products and services are commoditized. But when banks bring together AI, data and CRM, the digital customer experience becomes vastly more personalized. Informed by customer insights, financial institutions can gain a more holistic view of the customer and design better digital channels for them, creating unique, personalized journeys. 

Anu Agarwal is a senior director of product management for financial services cloud at Salesforce. 

We offer actionable insights on other digital evolution topics that can benefit banking institutions in the BAI Executive Report, “Keeping up with banking’s digital evolution.”