Systems and strategies are needed for financial services firms to succeed
Marketing professionals in the financial services industry face a number of challenges integrating customer data and cross-channel marketing. While banks, credit unions and other financial institutions often have a wealth of data at their fingertips, studies find that many struggle to leverage that information effectively across multiple marketing channels. This lack of integration can erode financial firm performance as the competitive landscape continues to evolve. Customers expect an increasingly seamless and transparent experience while the number of channels for discovery and evaluation of new products and services continue to increase.
The Customer Data Challenge
A recent study conducted by whatsnexx.com interviewed over 275 banking and financial services executives (between $500 million and $ 5 billion in revenue) and almost half of the companies surveyed said that they are not effective at leveraging customer data. Executives fear that their lack of understanding of customer behavior is leading to a tremendous gap in delivering cross-channel customer experiences. That gap is getting attention; improving customer experience ranks as a top priority for 2014.
Financial institutions are not the only organizations that are turning their attention to “managing customer experience.” New data from Forrester Research reveals it as a top priority across all major industries. One study surveyed 400 senior marketing and 250 IT executives in 10 countries representing organizations with an annual revenue of at least $500 million. Both CMO’s and CIO’s (52%) said that customer engagement is at the top of strategic planning lists. A third (30%) of the marketing executives pointed to creating sustainable and engaging customer relationships as critical for sustained profitability. About quarter of the IT respondents (22%) indicated a growing technological focus on customer experience.
The Promise of Digital
The time is right for financial institutions to cash in on the promise of digital; but more than the technology to enable the process, the right strategic approach is essential to integrate actions that nurture customer experience. Products and services should be enhanced by the use of appropriate customer data to provide relevant messaging, facilitate targeted cross-sell and up-sell campaigns, and in general broaden and nurture the ongoing relationship with each customer. With that strategic direction, banks, credit unions and other financial service firms can gain market advantage.
Marketing ROI is increased when organizations integrate several marketing technologies across multiple channels and understand their impact on one another. Research conducted by CMO.com indicates multichannel marketing can improve campaign results in the neighborhood of 300% to 650% over traditional campaigns. As a result, experts expect a dramatic change in the purchase funnel. These days, a typical consumer will use up to five different channels to discover and evaluate a new financial institution. Most check the company website, search online reviews, and visit social media in addition to traditional advice from family and friends.
Next Generation Customer Communications
The good news is that cloud-based multi-channel communications tools like 366° Degrees? by OMI provides a single platform to manage all of your customer communications no matter what form they take. Leveraging customer data is and much easier and more profitable as a result. You can easily do things like message personalization, target segmentation and in-depth campaign analytics. Easily reach across communication channels in social media, mobile and online formats and then quickly analyze the effectiveness of those social connections. The fundamental benefit is the ability to enable more strategic and thoughtful activity behind how your company engages with customers on an ongoing basis.
Now financial institutions can drive deeper levels of engagement by centralizing disparate systems and processes surrounding transactional, marketing, and social communications that improve customer experiences. The transition will not come without challenges, but the right mix of technological tools and cross-channel strategies will enable forward-thinking firms to lead the way to a new generation of success.
These objectives are essential, but difficult to achieve when firms do not have the tools and strategies in place to effectively link customer data with customer experience. Indeed, over 70% of the financial service executives interviewed admitted that they are not able to measure customer churn, even when reasons are given. More than 44% of companies report that they don’t understand their customers due to a lack of critical data on buying behavior, market perception and brand loyalty. 61% of companies said they would like to invest more toward “Improving Customer Experience” and 89% indicate that they need better integration between customer facing employee applications and marketing applications in order to improve customer loyalty.
Building a Customer Profile
The ability to design and present targeted offers based on customer behavior ranks among the top priorities for financial institutions in 2014. The majority of firms are focused on obtaining a complete customer profile that will provide the ability to target offers based on purchase history and account activity. Also high on the wish-list is the technology as well as the strategic planning behind the implementation of marketing campaigns that are optimized for multi-channel delivery.