Category: ,  /  August 10th 2015

There’s been a step change in the financial sector’s approach to digital. As we’ve noted here before, banks have moved from worrying about digital’s technical implications to reinventing themselves as online services. This can only be a good thing, with the sector’s exposed flanks increasingly giving industry outsiders the chance to offer simple financial services and attract customers who have fewer reasons to remain loyal to their bank. Adaptation and digital strategies can limit this exposure. Yet banks are taking their reference points only from within their sector, using the best online banking services to shape their strategies and measure their success.

But what about looking further afield and learning from the leaders in digital: businesses like Google, Facebook and LinkedIn. What could banks take from these success stories? For a start, all use insights to understand and engage their customers, providing the tools, services and content that provide people with what they need. In this way they’re building strong, ongoing relationships and creating opportunities to expand their offering even further – into areas far beyond their original activities.

Taking a broader perspective

These digital giants believe in the art of the possible. Adopting this approach could help banks take a broader perspective and that includes going beyond omnichannel, which is simply a hygiene factor in most other sectors. For example, customers expect to be able to start a transaction on the phone and finish in branch. If this remains the focus for banks, they’re imposing an unnecessary constraint upon themselves. Instead, by shifting focus, they create opportunities to increase their scope beyond transactional activities.

From transactions to insights

And some already are. Take Deutsche Bank for example. It’s created a connected insights engagement platform, putting its data to use in helping SMB customers make better financial decisions in areas like sales performance, forecasting and international trade. While the proposition is rooted in financial services it has built on them. The incorporation of timely, relevant business insights creates the kind of opportunities for personalised engagement that transactional processes could never provide.

These data-driven insights are of huge value to the SMB customer. But the bank is also getting something in return: real time behavioural insights and leads. For example, the platform incorporates databases for competitive bids and tender notices around the world. Customers can search the database by country, looking for new business opportunities in areas where they’re active – or want to expand. By entering this information, they’re then enabling the bank to target its messaging around opening a local currency account, or other relevant services.

Creating reasons to gather information

In the same way, companies like Amazon and LinkedIn have gone beyond their initial activities, creating reasons to gather information about their customers. The more information they gather, the more they learn, the more they target their messaging, enabling them to offer greater value to the customer. Take Amazon Prime. This membership service now generates a whole host of insights into customer behaviours that would have been completely inaccessible had Amazon remained only a bookseller.

Banks can learn from this, too. They already know that if they can’t provide a contextual reason for asking for information, people won’t give it.  That’s why, on average, they hold email addresses for fewer than 50% of their customers, on average. Only by offering tools, support and services that represent genuine value to their SMB customers will they then get the information, data and insights needed to continue to build and deepen their relationship.

To learn more about how BCSG is helping banks to transform their digital banking proposition for small businesses, visit our resources page


sabbir ahmed

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