Insights & Opinions

The Future of Banking is Personal

Mon, 05 Oct 2020

Lies Van Hemelrijck Opinion Maker The Banking Scene

Opinion makers talk about customer banking these days more often than about retail banking. However, essentially it is retail banking they talk about, but highly personal, spiced with AI and machine learning to make the banking experience unique for every client.

In today’s day and age, this is a utopia for many banks. They struggle to keep their customers on board, as they can cherrypick from a growing variety of financial services offerings, with new players that are capable of providing a highly personal, real-time and seamless banking experience. How can you, as a bank, be the preferred partner of your customer at every step of the way? Essential here is to keep the ties between customer and bank as short as possible.

As Karin Van Hoecke, General Manager Digital Transformation at KBC, stated last year in the Open Banking Interviews: “The more you can create this ultimate laziness for the customer, without the need to really be there, the more they will appreciate you. In creating this kind of experience, you also achieve the new loyalty. That is certainly a big trend.. How can one do that?

Comarch published a white paper recently on loyalty banking, Personalization of banking services via digital transformation. It answers the question of how to create customer intimacy by approaching the clients using a digital omnichannel reflex. Two documented customer journeys make the recommendations more concrete and understandable.

Define your customer journeys right and specific

As a bank, it is vital to define the right customer journeys and to define them in the right manner. Make them as personalised as possible: keep in mind that each client is a unique individual.

Retailers know what it is to hyper-segment customers to increase relevance and sales. So banks should not be scared to following that example, as customers are used to being serviced that way. Financial services cannot stay behind if they want to maintain the connection with the customers at least, let alone create more customer intimacy.

To get there, banks need to refurbish: rethink their business model, become more data-driven, define an omnichannel approach. Although this advice sounds familiar for some years, many banks keep struggling to balance the business needs with compliance constraints. This keeps them from really grasping the benefits of a sound digital revolution, a revolution that is technology and data-driven.

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Increased sales and stronger customer loyalty are the logical consequences of this revolution, in the long run, two key business goals, especially for an industry that is having difficulties in maintaining its margins.

Comarch’s publication guides you through all the steps to build on proven technologies for the perfect personalised financial services for each and every individual client while using digital channels.

Which customer insights are needed to build relevancy & engagement?

Too often, companies still categorise their customers in a very basic way with demographics, based on e.g. age, geography, or transactional data. If a bank wants to create a sense of understanding, satisfaction and relevancy, it will need to do better than that (see also our blog on Financial Services Innovation for Women).

Financial service providers need to go beyond the static historical transaction data of a customer and the rudimental ways of putting customers in a box. Asking the right questions here is an excellent start to prioritise which data to collect, and to have better answers to your questions. “The analysis of data is only as good as the data you collect.”

Perform AI on transactional data gives already a good base but asking the right questions to prioritise which data to collect to make your AI smarter will bring you up to speed.

The essential ingredients for a good customer journey

Essential aspects of each customer journey are relevancy, convenience and positive brand perception.

Relevancy: what is the expectation a customer has from his bank? A customer needs to feel secure, informed and guided in his interaction with a financial services provider. FAQ’s, articles and polls help for your customer, and they are easy to set up. Tailor them according to where the customer is in life to make it more relevant– topics such as mortgages, entrepreneurship, insurances, …

Convenience: are you getting close to providing your customer with the ultimate laziness? Look beyond the user experience of the front-end: how responsive and available are you? How much personalisation is possible in your digital channels?

Good brand perception means lower churn – and for that, personalisation needs to be taken up a notch to keep your customers loyal and to have a pool of brand ambassadors.

Personalisation is a continuous exercise to keep the customer journeys crisp. Therefore, you must collect and analyse the data frequently to keep the content dynamic.

Step 1: listen to your clients

Step 2: analyse your data

Step 3: test the content

Reach out through the channels that are most used by your customers for the most accurate information. An example is to use social media tools, and to integrate them into the overall customer centric strategy, without compromising security and privacy. This can be done by installing this completely separate from the core financial business platform. In that way for example, new engagement activities can be collected and presented.

Which back- and front-end IT-tools are needed to support personalisation?

Needless to say again that it’s essential to install tools that enable you to increase responsiveness, real-time reactions, and to have an omnichannel landscape. In today’s digital world, online and mobile platforms are increasingly more the first point of contact with the bank for the majority of customers, and they generate loads of data.

Data means insights and insights result in better customer profiling, which will increase customer loyalty if the insights are used in the right way.

A financial advisor portal & engine enables you to take into account the current life status of your customer, and offering a suitable financial plan. Together with the right loyalty and engagement tools, you can to get to know your customer via various channels, with gamification elements and because the incentives that motivate them to do so. We all do it: giving up some of our privacy in exchange for relevancy and convenience.

These interactions top up the customer data that you obtain via customer profiling through web & mobile and transactions. For all these mechanisms to be reinforced, a powerful analysis engine based on AI & ML is essential, delivering off-the-shelf marketing techniques and contextual insights. The same rules apply here: ask the right question to get the desired output.

Setting up such customer paths is challenging, but worth the investment: the positive perception from your customers will undoubtedly lead to better long-term results. Banks have already taken significant steps in the right direction, but are still lagging behind compared to the new kids on the block.

As the vast majority of the bank’s clientele already uses web & mobile, banks should harvest more of the opportunities that come with this changed customer behaviour. They should do it fast, as the front runners in the market are already looking at beyond conventional banking, becoming a trusted partner in every step of the customer’s life, both for big life decisions as for the day-to-day.


Open banking and platforming are prominent on the bank’s strategy agenda, challenging traditional banks to re-invent themselves to battle the new entrants who are very keen ànd equipped to gain market share, mainly for a younger generation, the gold mines of tomorrow.

The winners will only be known after some time. Implementing personalised customer journeys is already the first step to increase the customer lifecycle, keeping your customers close and loyal. It is an essential tool to help you get on the list of winners in the future.

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