Getting more out of your CRM investment

To strengthen ties, the interactions between financial institutions and customers must be fundamentally personal. Timely and relevant data can help.

Virtually every major bank in the country has invested in a customer relationship management system. These innovative systems aim to improve financial performance, deepen customer relationships and increase customer loyalty. A flawless sales and marketing strategy coupled with a top-notch CRM system can lead to impressive financial returns.

But CRM systems have an alarming failure rate, so that high expected ROI comes with a significant risk factor usually not considered in the initial purchase.

According to CIO Magazine, one-third of CRM projects fail. Harvard Business Review suggests the primary reason for failure is that the systems are too often used exclusively for sales operations insight, such as reporting on progress, improving the forecast accuracy, predicting project delivery dates and a range of other business intelligence that doesn’t include boosting sales, increasing lead conversion or improving customer loyalty and experience.

Sign up for the free BAI Banking Strategies newsletter and get industry insights delivered to your inbox.

The old computer science saying “garbage in, garbage out” pretty much sums up the problem with many CRM projects. If quality data is not entered into a system, the data that comes out will not be high-quality. For example, if customer data reflect obsolete employment status, credit history or financial objectives, how can bankers accurately recommend best-fit loans or credit cards?

Chatbots are increasingly becoming popular for financial institutions – there was a dramatic upswing in adoption during mandated social distancing. But integrating a chatbot into a CRM system will only help a smidge.

For example, chatbots are good at answering questions such as account balances and recent transactions, and they can provide statistical data that can help with operational efficiencies. Chatbots, however, have limits as far as boosting CRM performance goes because they lack personalized customer engagement capabilities.

CRM systems are inherently all about deepening the customer relationship. However, to strengthen customer bonds, the interactions between financial institutions and customers must be fundamentally personal. That personalization can only happen when bankers have targeted, timely, relevant customer information.

Every customer interaction creates an opportunity to update the CRM system with the latest information about situations, needs and goals. Yet customer service reps all too often do not update their CRM systems after conversations with customers, resulting in missing or out-of-date data.

To effectively service customers, it is essential to understand them and anticipate their needs. Banks can only do that when they have current, accurate customer data.

Supplementing a financial institution’s CRM system with digitally guided conversation technology can help bankers uncover the specifics of a customer’s financial situation and financial needs at the time of engagement. This discovery helps bankers establish a more profound customer connection and builds trust by demonstrating empathy for the customer’s financial circumstances.

During the 20+ months since the pandemic began, we have all learned how important it is to humanize customer engagement. Individuals want to do business with banks that show interest in them and have their best interest at heart. As the saying goes, “Nobody cares how much you know until you show them that you care.” Digital conversation guides enable customer services reps to engage with customers in an empathetic and humanistic manner that shows they care.

Guided conversation technology modernizes and standardizes the sales process, helping banks become more consistent and successful at servicing their customers. Digital conversation guides can be used in all bank channels, including in the branch, on kiosks, call centers, online and mobile devices.

The information discussed while using the conversation guides is captured and integrated into the CRM and used in ongoing sales and marketing campaigns. The data can provide a richer, more accurate picture of customers in the CRM system, which increases the system’s value. Additionally, the digital conversation provides valuable customer insight that is beneficial in creating product offerings, customer segmentation and revenue projections.

Front-ending a bank’s CRM system with conversation guides can help financial institutions get more out of their CRM investment and boost ROI. This integration can also help increase adoption and usage of the CRM system, which enhances banker productivity.

George Noga is chief executive officer at Ignite Sales.