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Can financial services organisations harness data and BI to catch up in the digitalisation race?  

By Neil Martin, commercial director at Qbase

The financial services industry sits behind many others in the race for digital transformation, having found it particularly challenging to move away from legacy and paper-based processes. And, with other barriers in the form of time and cost of implementation and system integrations, many organisations have made little progress. That is, until now. Competition in the financial services sector is fiercer than ever, and customer expectations around digital experiences have risen dramatically. This is partially driven by the pandemic and the need to introduce digital communications for customers, but also due to the intelligent and advanced experiences we’re used to in so many other areas of our lives. We expect highly personalised, efficient experiences as the norm. 

Trends like embedded finance – completing transactions without realising it or disrupting our customer experience – have exacerbated this. We’re now so used to the likes of Apple Pay or sending a payment directly through a social media platform, to complete a transaction. So, when we do experience clunky or awkward processes elsewhere, it’s even more evident. In fact, it’s this ‘effective invisibility of embedded financial services that poses the biggest threat to traditional financial institutions and fintechs,’ says Charlotte Principato, financial services analyst at Morning Consult.

So, what can financial services do to step up their game when it comes to providing customer-centric experiences? The industry holds more data on its customers than any other. Capitalising on this with the power of Business Intelligence (BI) can help financial services organisations turn their data into valuable business insights. Insights which can then be used to nurture and delight customers in a number of different ways. Here are just a few.

Understand what products and services are most helpful and relevant to your customers 

BI enables you to make decisions about your customers using the information you hold on them, helping you to identify new opportunities and revenue streams. For example, if a building society knows that 60% of their ISA customers aged 25-40 have mortgages elsewhere, they could develop an appealing mortgage proposition for this audience that already have ISAs with them.

Some BI tools can provide a value which represents how likely a customer is to purchase a particular product or service from you, known as propensity to purchase. You can use this to target the customers within your database that hold the highest scores with tailored communications to around these products or services to convert them. Some BI tools also offer predictive insights that show what a customer’s next purchase is most likely to be, based on their buying history, known as ‘next best offer’. For example, for a first-time buyer applying for a mortgage, it could suggest they also take out corresponding life insurance. This means that the customer will spend less time looking around for what they need. 

In this sense, BI essentially allows you to know what your customers want before they even do. And using this insight, you can tailor your marketing and communications accordingly. Not only does this help to boost the number of products and services your customers buy from you, but it demonstrates to them that you are in tune with them and their needs. Continue to build on this relationship with highly personalised communications and offers, and you’ll become indispensable to them.  

Create a ‘single version of the truth’ 

Building a true and accurate picture of your customer journey across all your different touchpoints and platforms can be difficult, especially when they’re not integrated with your back-office systems. Although you may be able to offer help and support to your customers via your website and social media channels, for example, if they don’t share this data with your ERP and CRM, you’re not able to get a full picture. BI tools can often bring these different data sources together into one visual dashboard, bringing all your customer interactions into one place and creating a ‘single version of the truth’. This can help you to spot patterns across the omnichannel landscape that may not have previously noticeable. 

Identify gaps in your customer journey  

With all your customer and behaviour data in one place, BI can help you identify any recurring problems or issues within your customer journey. For example, your dashboard might show that some customers are abandoning a multi-stage online form halfway through. You can then go straight to the point of the drop offs to investigate and resolve the issue. This oversight can also help you address wider issues with your products or customer support teams. If you operate a help desk for customers with a ticket flagging system, for example, BI can quickly pinpoint which tickets or problems are taking longer to resolve for further investigation. It could indicate a flaw or gap in one of your products, for example, or even show where your customer support employees need more training. 

Having BI to constantly monitor and analyse your data to spot trends means allows you to be proactive in identifying customer issues so you can fix or address them quickly and cause minimal frustration for the customer. It also means you don’t need a technical team to manually comb your channels for problems, and you’re not letting issues boil up to the point where you’re likely to receive complaints from disgruntled customers.

Reduce risk

BI can also be invaluable in financial services when it comes to identifying and reducing risk. By constantly monitoring and analysing customer behaviour, it can identify and flag any actions or occurrences that appear to be outside of ‘normal’ behaviour. For example, it can log over time the locations a customer usually uses their bank card for transactions, so when a transaction is suddenly made from the other side of the world, it will be flagged as unusual, and the payment can be instantly prevented. This additional level of intelligence shows customers that you have their financial security and best interests in mind, helping them to build trust in you.

Not only do each of these BI use cases help to improve your customer experience, but they can also make huge improvements to internal operations and productivity. It means that employees don’t need to spend time sifting through data and making decisions manually. Instead, their time could be reallocated to more proactive activities that can develop your customer experience in other ways.

Although going from being behind in the digitalisation race to successfully harnessing BI might seem like a big jump, it can be achieved more easily than you think with good quality data, the right tools, and the expertise to use them to their full potential. And, it’s worth the investment. BI effectively helps you to really tune in to what your customers want and need from you, so you’re able to be there with the right solution at the right time – providing this element of ‘invisible effectivity’.  

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