Ready data can smooth an acquisition

The benefit of providing near-real-time insight into client engagement, conversion performance and growth synergy capture cannot be overstated.

Here’s a question that arguably all banking executives should ask themselves every day: How well do you know your customer? Whether that customer is a huge enterprise or a high school student, data is the key to understanding each customer’s needs, preferences and potential value.

Financial institutions now must digitally monitor, understand and predict customer behavior in order to create meaningful engagements. That requires data. Banks must prioritize the data and intelligence to meet everchanging customer expectations and to unlock new value through greater efficiencies, expanded market penetration and higher customer lifetime value.

Forrester expects tech spending by banks to achieve double-digit growth in 2022. Worldwide, IDC predicts that the financial services industry will be second only to retail when it comes to spending on artificial intelligence between 2021 and 2025. But while banks make investments in their digital futures, they often lag when it comes to using data to maintain a competitive advantage.

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Today’s banks need a connected rationalized platform that makes sense of the data while leveraging online banking, payments, cash flow, core and third-party fintech data. In retail banking, that’s just beginning to happen; for commercial customers, not so much.

Using data in a more purposeful way can give banks an edge on their competition. It can also allow them to predict emerging trends that might affect their organization, empowering banking executives and relationship managers to answer questions such as:

  • How can I identify clients who present retention risk?
  • How does treasury product penetration look for my best customers?
  • Which small-business clients are underserved on my retail platform?
  • How balanced are relationship manager portfolios in terms of risk and growth opportunity?

Drawing actionable intelligence from ongoing digital engagement empowers teams to drive more proactive customer outreach. That outreach will stem from user and customer portfolio level behavior and activity, increasing the chances for upsell opportunities and engagement or warning of potential customer churn.

Fostering engagement during change

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that customer engagement is even more critical during times of uncertainty.

In 2021, banking-related merger and acquisition deals worth more than $50 billion were announced in the United States, a level not reached since 2007. Many industry observers expect consolidation to continue in the coming years—and with it, enhanced opportunity for the banking sector and additional customer challenges.

M&A events are tumultuous times for banks and their customers. Banks must be proactive with engagement throughout the journey, from merger announcement through conversion. This means using data to proactively identify customer red flags and clients who are “failing to thrive” during migration. Having data at the ready can give the merger integration office near-real-time insight into client engagement, conversion performance and growth synergy capture.

Let’s come back to the question we started with: How well do you know your customers? Let’s go a bit deeper. How will they behave in a merger scenario? How well can you anticipate and predict and serve the needs of those customers? And what role do you play in their lives? The answers to these questions cannot be found without good data, and they cannot be validated without good insights from that data.

Banks are facing a number of emerging threats, not the least of which come from numerous new digital-first and digital-only challenger banks and fintechs. These offering potentially put customer relationships for traditional banks at risk. But the biggest threat is from other “platform companies” with superior customer experiences and finely tuned data, analytics and customer engagement skills.

Change and emerging threats are often foreshadowed in the consumer banking segment. Banks need to position themselves to fight this battle at the customer engagement level in commercial and corporate banking.

It may be time to reconsider your analytics strategy. Do you have information silos and disparate systems? Are you gaining actionable insights that are guiding business objectives? More importantly, are you tracking the right metrics to measure progress toward those goals? Data and intelligence, when put to good use, are the keys to not only meet customer demands but also fully execute on revenue and growth demands for 2022 and beyond.

Curt Raffi is chief product and innovation officer at Bottomline Technologies.

Learn how financial services organizations can prepare for and capitalize on M&A growth opportunities in the BAI Executive Report, “Bank M&A is here to stay”