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Reintroducing the Personal Touch to Financial Services

From the bank manager to the insurance broker and financial advisor, the financial marketplace has traditionally relied heavily on personal relationships. But over the past decade with the advent of online product selling and the rise of aggregator websites, companies have lost that personal customer connection. Having been encouraged by these sites – and the media – to prioritize price and value, customers are now largely self-educated and rarely look towards a provider for advice or guidance.

Is this really the experience customers prefer?

Financial services companies are already capturing an incredible amount of customer information, not only from registration processes but also environmental insight from online activity such as products viewed, information entered into loan calculators and online help services. To date this information has been used to build sophisticated risk profiles; but there are real opportunities to exploit this data to improve personalization and communicate directly with customers to create a greater sense of loyalty and empowerment.

The first step is to identify those customer segments that behave differently; customers, for example, with vehicles that are old enough to warrant breakdown cover, or wealthy enough to require information about the increase to the ISA allowance. Having identified the key differentiation criteria, segmentation technology can be used to actively seek out customers that fit the segments, based on personal and environmental information; before using optimization and testing to determine how these segments respond to different pieces of content.

The financial services industry has changed radically over the past decade. Companies have exploited the online model to gain access to a far broader customer base and significantly reduced the cost of sale; the downside has been the loss of direct customer contact. Now there is a real opportunity for the financial services provider to rise to the challenge of aggregator dominance and provide the personal experience that many customers would prefer. Those companies that proactively develop online segmentation and personalization to improve the relevance and timeliness of customer product information will not only transform the customer experience but also rapidly identify new opportunities for customer-led product development and innovation.

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