Guest blogger David McGinty explores how banks can deliver on rising customer expectations to thrive in the future.  

It’s no secret that the big tech companies—especially the ‘GAFA’ of Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple—are using data to personalise and target offers to customers, and getting better returns as a result. But it’s not just big tech who are doing this.

Many organisations are already seeing the value of prioritising hyper-relevant experiences for their customers. Subway has rebuilt its operating model to continuously run tests on customer experiences to optimise the journey of purchasing a sandwich.¹ From changing the colour of a single button to revising promotional messaging, Subway converts test results into effective user experiences with the touch of a button. This daily user testing, whether online, on their mobile app or in-store, has increased revenue of over half a million dollars a year.

Marketing in every industry is evolving, fast. And customers’ expectations of their banks are being set not by other banks, but by disruptors outside financial services.

Through its close work with Salesforce, Burberry is actively building a digital culture to enhance customer experience.² The implementation of Burberry Chat on the Salesforce Chatter platform allows the retailer to connect sales and design silos, rapidly turning real-time customer feedback into product alterations.

You might wonder what relevance these examples have to your own business. The answer is quite a lot.

A cross-industry evolution: Adapt to survive

Marketing in every industry is evolving—fast. And customers’ expectations of their banks are being set not by other banks, but by disruptors outside financial services.

To meet these rising expectations and survive into the future, banks must adapt. But the window of opportunity to do this is shrinking. Every day, banks’ customers are becoming more accustomed to receiving relevant, individually tailored offers and communications from companies across their life stages. As these propositions and experiences become ever more compelling, the gap is widening between those who leverage these opportunities and those who don’t.

For many banks, closing this gap requires a new approach and mindset. Historically, strong above-the-line advertising and brand-building have kept banks ahead, along with ever increasing focus on the in-branch experience. While getting the mix right is invaluable, the new marketing battleground is around leveraging customers’ data to fully tailor the targeting and delivery of a customer’s experience, ensuring that all uses of that data are laser-focused on generating real value for that customer. In a post-GDPR world, a transparent and ethical use of data is integral for delivering on these personalised touchpoints without crossing the line into invasive territory.

Banks need to join the battle, and win, if they’re to unite their above-the-line and digital marketing and effectively bring their brand to life for customers across all channels. As competition continues to intensify, banks that fail to do this will face diminishing returns from their marketing spend, lower customer satisfaction scores and ultimately, falling market share.

Setting the path for hyper-relevance

Banks need to move away from the old product-based view of their customers, to one that encompasses the whole person—including their wants, aspirations and evolving life stages. These insights enable the generation of personalised, in-the-moment offers that meet and anticipate customers’ needs more fully than ever before—dramatically increasing customers’ propensity to buy, bolstering loyalty and realising the full value of the bank’s decades of investment in its brand.

To achieve all this, an action plan to redefine financial services marketing is needed.

  • Rethink your data: Start with bringing together relevant data to give an accurate foundation. Identifying and establishing timely, relevant customer data is the foundation for becoming hyper-relevant to customers and ‘living in the moment’.
  • Invest in the New: With the data in place, invest in and integrate ‘MadTech’—marketing and advertising technologies—to unleash the value of that data through accurate targeting of tailored offers and messaging. Combining more advanced data and analytics capabilities with the latest campaign management tools will enhance and fully personalise end-to-end journeys, while ensuring systems are scalable enough to support rising usage. With a careful blend of data and technology, a drive towards greater automation will free up your marketing teams to focus on those value-add services your customers desire.
  • Integrate for innovation: Create a ‘hard lock’ between data, analytics and marketing teams by breaking down the traditional silos and empowering people in all these areas to work and innovate together. Almost every company that succeeds in being hyper-relevant to its customers has merged these teams together to some extent.

Challenger and traditional banks are raising the bar with increasingly data-driven, targeted and personalised customer experiences. Those left behind must use their scale as an opportunity to go beyond convenience and prove they ‘know’ their customers with timely and relevant messages. The result is genuine, authentic connections, generating life-enhancing experiences.

The good news for banks yet to fully adopt this approach is that they already have the core ingredient for hyper-personalisation in their customer data—arguably their most priceless asset. Unfortunately, that data is often locked away in a virtual ‘vault’ doing very little. It’s time to open the doors and put that asset to productive use. Advances in cloud data analytics mean hyper-personalisation of data is no longer held back by the cost of implementing a solution, and providers like Google and Amazon have affordable solutions that can be used straight out the box. Your customers will thank you for it—and that’ll be reflected in your revenues.


1 Accenture Interactive Client Case Study: A Data-driven recipe for delighting customers (2018)
2 Stuart Lauchlan, ‘Why Apple wants Burberry boss for digital retail push’, Diginomica (2013)

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