For banks in particular, the safe and efficient storage of data is
not just a ‘nice to have’ but a requirement governed by legislation and
industry standards. I believe that whether on-premise or in the cloud, banks
should strive to capture all their customers’ data together in one place. Why?
Because it will empower employees with the right information to give customers
the best experience possible.
Bringing together data
Perhaps more than any other industry, financial
services firm have a huge number of channels to collect customer data from;
in-branch, over the phone, via social media platforms. This means they need to
have the right data systems in place which can bind together all of their data
to build a complete picture of a customer.
The right system needs to bring together
front-office data – calls, meetings, leads, opportunities – and back-office
data – accounts, transactions, delivery schedules, fulfilment and so on. There
is also a need, particularly for capital markets, to have external data
integrated, for example LinkedIn data (where did this prospect use to work?)
and trading figures.
In terms of where the data is stored, in my
experience banks generally choose to keep their customer data in the cloud. No
modern business – bank or otherwise – should keep their customer data in
siloes, as this immediately breaks a 360-degree view of the customer.
Today’s customers expect the best experience
possible. The instantaneous pace we now live at doesn’t leave much time for
patience – so consumers expect an instant response to their demands. This
means customer-facing employees need to have easy access to their customers’
background as soon as the interaction begins, if they are to stand a chance of
delivering the best possible experience.
Customers need to know that, regardless of the
channel, they’ll receive the same level of service and understanding of their
needs and expectations. This all amounts to the overall customer experience,
which is crucial when customers are faced with so much choice. The threat of
losing customers because of bad service is very real. According to Accenture’s
UK research, 34% of customers who switched financial providers in 2014 did so because
of a poor customer service.
All customer-facing teams (sales, marketing,
customer service and so on) therefore need to have the right tools in place.
Technology should empower employees in their interactions with customers;
giving them all the information they need, when they need it. For example,
providing clear information on the customers’ previous interactions (when did
they last contact us? What other products do they hold with us?) – to enable a
seamless experience which proves to the customer they are valued and
Turning to technology
Looking ahead, AI will become increasingly
important for banks when it comes to the customer journey. Many banks are
already open to the possibilities of machine learning – and it has to be said,
the capabilities of chatbots is becoming very impressive. Swedbank’s web
assistant Nina, for example, now has an average
of 30,000 conversations per month and can handle more than 350 different
But the customer experience depends on both the
quality of the data, and how well employees can use it to then bring insight to
their interactions. In my opinion, customer-facing employees and technology
should work side by side to enrich the customer experience. The role of
chatbots, virtual reality, NLP and so on should be to bring efficiencies to
business operations, particularly when it comes to automating tasks and
processes where humans don’t add value. In fact, a recent report by Accenture
found 79% of banking professionals agree that AI will revolutionise the way
they gain information from and interact with customers.
If banks rise to the
challenge to store and manage all their data together, and their employees are
supported with the right training and technology to quickly access customer
data and understand – and even pre-empt – their needs, they’ll be on the path