Let’s start with a few simple questions.
Who are your customers? How are they searching for and consuming your services?
Are you providing the best experience possible for your customers today? What about those customers tomorrow?
A study conducted by Accenture last year, which surveyed 33,000 financial services consumers in 18 countries across all generations and incomes1, found that:
73 percent of consumers expect personalised products and services in exchange for their data when it comes to investment advice.
This number went down but was still significant – 63 percent – when it comes to banking and insurance services.
If we then look at where financial services institutions are on their journey to delivering personalisation, on average, only 52 percent of companies offer basic levels of personalisation and 35 percent offer no personalisation at all. Even more worrying is the 7 percent who had no plans at all to add personalisation to their services.2
It’s generally acknowledged that strict regulation is slowing the speed at which the financial services industry can embrace digital. But the message from consumers is clear. Improving the customer experience and providing personalisation isn’t something that’s coming in the future. Customers are demanding it right now.
Agencies and research companies like to lump consumers into brackets based on when they were born. You know the ones – Baby boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, Millennials, Gen Z, etc. They like to think that people within these age brackets browse, make decisions, and shop in the same way.
But consumers shop the way they want to shop – regardless of when they were born.
Consumers today might browse your website and product/service offerings in the workplace. They’ll then head home and resume their research on a tablet or mobile. They may talk to family and friends. They might then book an appointment with an adviser over the phone or in person. They might download and print out a brochure from your website, even ask for one to be sent through the post.
One thing is certain – they will be evaluating your products and services against your competitors, just as people have always done.
But more than this, they’ll be evaluating their customer experience with you. Also not news, but it’s now about the digital experience. This is often the first interaction with your brand.
If you can’t provide them with the information they seek, both quickly and easily - If you don’t personalise the journey for them by suggesting products and services that fit with their profile or what they’ve been searching for - Then they will inevitably find a competitor online who can.
It may be the case that your competitor’s products and services are inferior, but if the customer’s digital experience is better with them than it is with you, the competitor will win.
Trust is built in the same time it takes a coconut tree to grow, but it can be lost in the same time it takes a coconut to fall.
According to Edelman’s trust barometer, trust in financial services is at 54 percent.3 This number should act as a wake-up call to everyone in the industry – only just over half of the people trust you.
With consumers relying more and more on their digital experience as a differentiator, and with such a huge trust gap between financial services companies and their potential customers, it is clear that something needs to change.
Financial services companies are facing a myriad of challenges:
- People living longer, with diverse financial requirements
- Uncertain economic outlook
- Competition from new business models and new players entering the market
- Fast pace of business change, driven by digitisation
- Increasing competition for talent
- Balancing business needs with regulatory requirements
- Upgrading the digital experience to service customers better
- Providing personalised experiences for every customer at scale
- Integrating websites with numerous systems and applications
- Learning to use data to inform decision-making as part of the digital transformation journey.
It’s clear that a focus on digital technology and digital skills, in tandem with the right technology partners, will be the key elements in financial services companies being able to deliver an improved digital relationship with customers, putting those companies on the path to trust and loyalty. This will be a deciding factor in financial services’ success.
Digital technology & the financial services of the future
According to a recent report by Fujitsu:
78 percent of financial services firms are worried about the impact digital disruption could have on their organisation.
In addition, of the C-suite decision-makers surveyed, 56 percent did not believe their business would exist in its current form in five years' time.
We don’t know what the future will hold but we know that digital technology will play a key part in it. People may be replaced by bots and artificial intelligence (AI), whether this be providing automated wealth management advice or responding to banking customer service enquiries. Biometric technology may mean the end of passwords and pin numbers. Voice search, using things such as Amazon Alexa, may automatically connect to your bank account or investment portfolio, and allow you to withdraw funds or make instant portfolio changes whilst sitting on your sofa and watching the news.
These all sound like gimmicks, but they’re already starting to happen. Financial services brands must start to investigate and embrace these technologies now and be prepared to adapt and adopt what might be coming down the road. To put things in perspective, according to a study from IDC, US-based retail banks were predicted to spend more than $20 billion on hardware, software, services, and internal staff, to develop and implement digital initiatives in 2017.4
We know it’s hard to increase marketing budgets. We know that organisations are weary of spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on technology (for undocumented returns). But if you don’t, your competitors will. You must have a digital champion(s) within the business. Demonstrate value – show your company what it’s going to get out of the technology investment. Set expectations.
What we do know for certain is that trust between consumers and financial services companies will be critical, both as to whether these technologies will have any (beneficial) impact on the sector as a whole, but also as to whether financial services will keep up with consumer trends and demands.
What we also know for certain is that close to half of all companies in the financial services sphere are still not even providing simple website personalisation at an individual customer level today. Delivering digital experiences is a complicated, technical, and ongoing process, but it is necessary and there’s no better place to start than by looking at how you can personalise your customers’ online journeys.
Financial services organisations need to invest now in platforms and technologies that improve the customer experience and deliver personalisation for each individual customer.
This isn’t a case of “well, we know it’s coming, we’ll wait a few years, maybe see what our competitors are doing first”. By then, it will be too late. Your customers will have “spoken” online. Actions speak louder than words. More than half expect you to provide personalised products and services.
With research into, and knowledge of, customer needs and customer behaviour, financial services brands can start to map out all possible customer journeys and start to create relevant messaging and relevant content for each.
By having the right content management solution, with a database that allows you to act on all relevant customer information in one go, and with the right personalisation and marketing automation tools in place, then companies can start to create and deliver content in context “at the right time, in the right place, on the right device”.
Investing in an experience platform which tracks the right metrics, providing you with actionable insights – in real-time – to improve content, copy, and optimisation efforts across every channel, will mean companies can test, target, and automate at all points in the customer journey, helping to drive conversions and increase revenue.
The technology to do this exists right now, but only half of financial services companies are taking advantage of it.
Do you want to be the one that’s left behind?
Codehouse can help make sure that you aren't
We have over ten years of experience designing and delivering websites and customer experience solutions on Sitecore. We’ve helped numerous brands around the world deliver personalisation at an individual customer level, integrated various systems to allow organisations to have a 360 degree view of customers and their interactions, and helped set them on the path to ongoing marketing automation and optimisation.
If you would like to talk to us about how Sitecore can help your organisation deliver personalisation and an improved digital experience for your customers, then get in touch today.
- Financial Providers: Transforming distribution models for the evolving consumer, Accenture, 2017
- Digital Banking Report, The Power of Personalization in Banking, March 2016
- Edelman Trust Barometer 2018
- US Banking Digital Transformation Spending Forecast 2017-2020, IDC Financial Insights, June 2017