Leveraging hyper-personalized customer data to improve Customer Experience in FSI
We’re all living in a very different world than we were just a few months ago. Nothing is business as usual and many more people are working, studying and socializing from home. In this interview, Michael Plimsoll, Industry Marketing Director at Adobe, outlines how they are joining forces with Microsoft and VeriPark to help financial institutions succeed in the new normal.
How has the pandemic affected the financial services industry? What do you consider to be the biggest challenges?
We saw significant changes as soon as the pandemic hit. Branch footfall dropped rapidly and call center volumes spiked. Customers needed empathy and support to navigate a challenging economic climate. Financial institutions were expected to respond at the same time as shifting the majority of their employees to remote working.
Pivoting an enterprise to address a completely new set of customer needs has many challenges. First, you need a significant command of your customer data. And, that needs to be coupled with the ability to deliver highly personalized products, services and experiences alongside supporting digitally enabled service, sales and marketing teams.
Has Covid-19 become a wake-up call for financial institutions in terms of digital transformation?
As our CEO, Shantanu Narayen, said during the 2020 Adobe Digital Summit:
Great digital experiences were meant to delight and surprise the customer with delightful, personal, relevant interactions in real-time. But now, the digital experience needs to support critical activity and deliver the entire experience!
In the past, digital was often seen as an “add-on” to the main, physical, event. Now, digital is the main event and we need to deliver against it.
Many financial services companies have struggled to keep up with digital transformation and change. In fact, according to PwC’s 22nd annual CEO survey, 32% of financial services executives see ‘speed of technological change’ as a top threat to their organization. That’s because a risk-adverse mentality has prevented some companies from seeing the opportunity behind the initial challenges.
For example, our research suggests that only 45% of financial institutions can access an integrated and shared view of the data across their enterprise. What’s more, 46% claim that stitching data sources together from disparate systems is too difficult and time consuming. So, yes, Covid-19 has been a great wake- up call; especially for those not already focused on digital.
How is Adobe helping financial institutions to rapidly adapt and provide the best digital experiences?
We are helping our customers to better understand their end consumers’ behavior. With this insight, they can adjust their communications and messaging accordingly. This strong digital foundation is allowing our customers to pivot quickly, and keep pivoting, as the situation changes.
Understanding customer behavior, interests and friction points helps companies to deliver pro-active, personalized and timely communications aligned to customer segment, need and location.
We are also helping them to shift from a bricks and mortar strategy to an integrated physical and online strategy. By facilitating self-service online and mobile adoption, we are increasing efficiency, reducing unnecessary branch visits and call center volumes. Finally, we are helping with new ways of working; leveraging remote collaboration, workflows and meetings, alongside tools to democratize data, content publishing and leverage AI at scale.
How has Covid-19 changed customer behavior and how are financial services companies responding?
Covid-19 has encouraged more consumers than ever before to engage with financial institutions via digital channels. We’ve also seen expectations shift. Now, customers expect digital to fulfill all their needs and requirements, making Customer Experience Management (CXM) even more important.
CXM was a growing trend even before Covid-19. For example, financial services providers were 29% more likely than other industries to see CX optimization as a priority. They were also almost twice as likely to focus on data-driven marketing, with many already incorporating real-time personalization into their CX strategy. That’s because they understand that data unlocks the door to a deeper understanding of the customer journey, and allows them to deliver a differentiated customer experience that forms the basis of long-term loyalty.
How do you think the financial services industry can improve customer experiences in the long term and create greater customer lifetime value?
Customer Experience is going to remain digitally focused for the foreseeable future. Organizations need to understand this, and look at ways to improve their digital interactions with customers. This covers everything from customer acquisition and retention, to service and support.
Integrating digital and offline channels is a key success factor. For example, we are looking at why some customers go online but then contact their call centre within 30 minutes. Our hypothesis is that they are trying to self serve, but we need to fully understand their pain points.
With this understanding we can start to improve the digital journey to maintain people in digital channels, and free up physical channels for those who really need them. We can also dynamically change or update the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) options based on what the customer was trying to achieve online. What’s really important is that when a customer does end up in a face-to-face interaction, we use that unified view of the customer to enhance the conversation as this is a valuable, revenue- generating opportunity.
Branches will also change. New technology, such as digital signage, video booths and touch screens will give customers the opportunity to engage face-to-face with the branch team, whether they have video conferencing capability or prefer the privacy of a branch over a busy workplace or apartment. Customers will also expect digital tools, such as mobile apps for appointment booking or queue updates to enhance their branch experience.
In short, the bank branch is not going away. But to be successful, we need to see them re-imagined.
Do you see the marketing and sales culture in financial services changing? If so, what are the most effective marketing strategies to thrive in the “new normal”?
The culture is certainly changing. There is more focus on empathy and supporting customers through challenging times. We used to talk about delivering the right message at the right time to the right person, but now it is about ensuring you don’t serve the wrong message to the wrong person at the wrong time!
You don’t want to serve a savings message to someone who has been furloughed or made redundant. This requires an even greater control of customer data and a deeper understanding of your customers and audience segments. To achieve such hyper-personalization at scale, companies need to focus on developing deeper customer insights to understand evolving needs and drive greater digital customer engagement. For many businesses, this will require significant change across operational methods, technologies and organizational structure.
Can you share your insights on how financial institutions can maximize their digital growth potential?
It always starts with a deeper understanding of your customer. Once you understand how the pandemic is impacting your customers, you can adjust your communications. But agility is absolutely essential and a strong digital foundation will allow you to pivot quickly, and keep pivoting, as the situation changes.
It will also allow you to start re-introducing customer acquisition activity. Many financial companies stopped this when the pandemic hit. That’s understandable; it was essential to show empathy in troubling times.
But, now, as we move out of the first phase of the pandemic, we need to look at how we can use the same empathy in customer acquisition marketing.
This Hyper-personalization, or Personalization 2.0 requires data and a cross-channel, unified view of the customer. That’s why, for 36% of financial institutions, increasing their real-time personalized experiences capability has become a priority. This figure is far higher than any other industry.
Can you give us some examples of how Adobe products are helping financial services companies?
Adobe Sign is a quick win for financial services companies. For example, in response to the pandemic, a high street bank moved 18 manual forms that previously required in-person signatures online, so customers could carry out these important processes from the safety of their home. In just eight weeks, they processed over 80,000 online interactions, avoiding the need for around 15,000 in-branch, face-to-face visits.
We have also seen customers leverage the full capability of the Adobe Experience Cloud, including Analytics to better understand customers. Adobe Target delivers highly personalized and relevant experiences, while Adobe Campaign & Market engages pro-actively with email, SMS and push notifications and Adobe Experience Manager delivers rich content at speed. Finally, Adobe Experience Platform helps companies connect on- and offline data to truly understand Customer Journeys and deliver better services and support.
How does responding to Covid-19 together with VeriPark and Microsoft help financial institutions steer a course through the uncertainty and shape their future direction?
Adobe and Microsoft have come together in a deep partnership to provide the expertise, infrastructure and applications necessary for businesses to achieve digital transformation. Together, Adobe and Microsoft are:
- Enabling customer experience management with 12 integrated applications
- Bringing together marketing and sales for personalized experiences
- Increasing targeting and segmentation precision with B2B & ABM best-in-class solutions
- Simplifying critical decisions with powerful AI & ML applications
- Providing more solutions with global availability than ever before on Azure
- Solving the data estate problem through the Open Data Initiative
- Elevating workforce productivity with modern document management
- Building innovative organizations through improved collaboration, creativity, and communication.
In addition to this, VeriPark provides leading financial institutions with seamless, robust, and scalable software solutions. As André Huynen, Strategic Alliances Director at VeriPark has commented:
By combining Adobe solutions together with our VeriPark FSI-specific solutions, we help our banking and insurance customers to build a better foundation for web experience management. Having digital personalized contacts and planning personalized marketing actions are a “must-have” today in the financial services industry. Customers and prospects expect to receive valuable and personalized content from their bank or insurance company and our combined Microsoft/Adobe/VeriPark offerings help our FSI customers to do this in an easy and efficient way.
Finally, what do you think should be the three key priorities for the financial services industry in the post-Covid-19 world?
The first would definitely be to develop deeper customer insights to understand evolving customer needs. The industry also needs to launch new digital offerings with a strong focus on customer engagement. Finally, the financial sector needs to realize that this will involve major changes to their operational methods, technologies and organizational structure.