Evolving consumer banking for a new era of personalization

Banks and other financial services organizations are embracing a shift to a digital-first environment. The result is efficiency and cost reduction for lenders and credit unions, and a high level of convenience for borrowers.

This also means that financial services providers that want to remain competitive need to start thinking of the customer journey as a primary investment area for their business and determine how their digital strategies can support their long-term revenue goals.

Organizations that emerge successful will be those that embrace digitalization to facilitate transactions and offer robust personalized solutions that help customers do more.

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The power of personalization

Personalization may not sound as cutting-edge as artificial intelligence or machine learning, but it should not be overlooked.

Consumers have come to expect a level of personalization, and a failure to meet such expectations could send your customers packing. Personalized banking experiences can make the difference between a customer who is short-term and one who is life-long, so it’s important for banks to develop personalized offers and tools based on specific customer behaviors, preferences and expectations.

Here are a few ways banks and financial institutions can improve their personalization strategies in the current environment:

Take your go-to-market strategy fully digital: Before the pandemic, consumers were already increasing their digital consumption and screen time. Fast forward to the months following the pandemic’s onset, and consumers are spending significant amounts of time on their phones, tablets and other mobile devices to do everyday tasks.

Doing everyday tasks swiftly and efficiently from home will prove to be a preference that is here to stay. We’ve learned that customers are willing to still engage in high-dollar lending markets – such as mortgage and auto – even as these experiences remain online. It is imperative that financial institutions meet them in these markets by allowing for platform modifications molded to the customer’s expectations.

By delivering personalized offers to customers through mobile, web and email platforms, banks and financial institutions will be able to customize experiences for consumers in the places they are spending most of their time, leading to better business outcomes and improved relationships between lenders and borrowers.

Offer human expertise: While online chat platforms and robo-advisers are increasing in popularity, nothing replaces authentic human connections. In a digital-first world, this can be achieved through solutions that create highly customized brand experiences through artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Personal emails or phone calls are still great to ensure customers are satisfied with the services they’re receiving, but even smaller financial institutions should not shy away from technology that can help them stay competitive.

Businesses and lenders, regardless of their size, should think ahead about building a strong integration strategy that can accommodate bringing in technology partners to achieve business growth. By equipping human experts with technology-driven solutions, firms will be well-positioned to build those customized services needed to better engage and retain current and new customers.

Continuously innovate: Improving your customer experience with foundational tactics to personalized touchpoints is an excellent place to start. But keep in mind that it’s really just the beginning, as trends will continue to change and challenge your strategies again and again.

Staying competitive in 2021 means approaching customer engagement as a continuously evolving process – this includes how you evaluate both technology and marketing.

Operationally, partners should act as an extension of your business goals and take on work that isn’t your company’s expertise. They can assist in optimizing your platforms for increased engagement, creating experiential offerings for customers, or produce data and analytics insights through machine learning and AI solutions.

Embracing the mindset of “knowing your circle of competency,” as Warren Buffett puts it, and executing on what you do best, with the right partners at the right time, is a strategic way to achieve growth and innovation.

Following this approach can enable you to provide the experiences demanded by today’s consumers, regardless of the size of your financial services organization.

Cory Ayres is vice president of market development at Experian.