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Insights are key to customer-first experiences for financial services

  • Craig McLaughlin
  • April 02, 2020
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At Extractable, we see many small and midsized financial institutions struggle to effectively communicate their brand values on the digital channel. Rather than a translation, digital transformation is primarily a cultural shift towards an entirely new model of service design — a new way of thinking.

In light of the recent crisis, these same institutions are scrambling to accelerate digital initiatives to best serve their customers through COVID-19. Nailing communications and content experiences on digital channels is no longer optional as prospects and customers alike self-isolate. No longer are banks debating the relative importance of the branch vs. the digital experience; that channel is literally closed.

Now building personalized, empathetic experiences based on customer insight will be crucial in maintaining resilience through the crisis, and into the future — customers may not want to go back.

That’s why this morning I was excited to attend a webinar hosted by Forrester and Episerver regarding content intelligence and personalization. Episerver’s recent acquisition of Idio enables them to offer dynamically personalized content experiences.

In branch, an employee may be able to learn more about a customer and offer solutions or suggestions that cater to their unique needs. How can digital content offer the same personalized experience?

Nick Barber, Senior Analyst at Forrester, argued that the competitive uniformity in digital customer experience is hurting companies and customers.

“Brands might know a lot about their customers, but if they don’t have the same depth of knowledge about their content, then it’s impossible to create a personalization strategy, let alone a scalable one.”


He drew a comparison to the airline industry where, with small exceptions, the experience is largely the same. Rather than feeling compelled to jump to a brand and experience that resonates with them, brands are left undistinguishable in an industry-wide sea of sameness.

Kevin Li, Chief Strategy Officer at Idio, contends that with tools like AI and dynamic monitoring and analysis of user journeys and behavior — there is an unparalleled opportunity to inform better experiences and stand out in the sea of sameness.

More than just an analytics report that sits on someone’s desk gathering dust, new tools and technologies are changing the customer experience; leveraging personalized, customer insights to dynamically optimize each part of the digital customer journey.

Like it or not, these are the new front lines, and toolsets like these are enabling forward-thinking financial institutions to differentiate themselves and offer their customers true digital services.

The future of banking lies in offering customers personalized point-solution financial products, services, or financial education exactly when they need it most in the buyer journey. Whether it’s the insight that many people are searching for budgeting tools and tips, or that there is a local spike in organic search of comparative queries regarding auto loans or refinancing; the applications are endless.

While multinational and megabanks have invested in personalized content, the opportunity for small to midsized financial institutions is vast. For these institutions, letting go of cultural complacency and taking the risk of standing out in this sea of sameness will be paramount in winning market share.

Leveraging personalization will be key in better serving existing customers and finding the right new ones.

Personally, I am particularly intrigued by the opportunity in banking to harmonize the unauthenticated public-facing experience with the authenticated Digital Banking experience.

The disparate experiences, often handled by third-party vendors, leave customers feeling like they are all dealing with any digital bank, rather than your digital bank. The opportunity to impart brand voice, messaging, features and personalized tools are boundless.

It’s clear that in digital today, transitioning from a data-driven institution to a customer insight-driven institution is of chief importance.

In looking to the future, we can establish some foundational truths which will allow financial services to scale a customer-insight driven experience:

  1.  The future of finance lies in digital-first experience.
  2. Financial institutions that can successfully shift their passion for meaningful customer experience in brick and mortar to digital have vast opportunities to serve their customers better than ever before.
  3. Dynamic tools such as these will enable institutions to transition their offline value proposition to the digital channel like never before – allowing service-minded institutions to compete at scale.

Thank you again to the teams at Forrester and Episerver for another informative and exciting webinar. We look forward to seeing how Episerver solutions can continue to improve experiences for our clients and their customers.

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