How well do you know your banking customer?

Banking And Financial Messaging

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John Gaffney

Aug 5, 2021

The banking customer you had in 2020 is not the banking customer you have in 2021. Research shows they are staying home more (61 percent), reconsidering some of their online shopping habits and perhaps most importantly saving more. Seventy-two percent of all consumers increased their savings during the pandemic and are looking to find new ways to save money.

These are substantial behavior changes and could lead enterprise banks as well as smaller regional banks and fintechs to prioritize customer relationships and the data analytics that drive it. The changes also have ramifications for FIs business customer strategy, especially for smaller companies. It’s time for senior executives at financial institutions of all shapes and sizes to ask themselves the question: How well do we know our customers?

The answer should be some version of: Not well enough. Because technology and advanced data analytics can give executives a dynamic view of their customers as their behaviors, attitudes and future plans change as a result of an unprecedented economic disruption resulting from the pandemic. The best way to address customer relationship issues is not glamourous, but it works. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms, which have been around since the 70s, have advanced right along with the data technology boom of the past few years.

Banks have historically been slow to adopt CRM technology. According to Bottomline’s report: Building Your Growth Strategy Around The Banking Relationship, CRM is essential to business transformation initiatives. However, there are obstacles that need to be removed. Lines of business often operate in data silos, which can be disastrous when a complex relationship is involved. For example, if a high-income customer segment typically has accounts that span deposits, high-yield savings, mortgages, and checking, it’s possible that separate data sets will accompany these customers and it’s also possible that wealth management doesn’t see the same data sets that the mortgage department does. These disparate systems can reduce the ability to see valuable data insights and decrease the overall customer experience.

Today's customer relationship management solutions can give financial institutions an opportunity to deepen their understanding of customer needs while delivering prescriptive guidance and support to relationship managers on how best to engage. The Bottomline report contends that banking relationship management solutions can make significant steps toward ensuring FIs work with the same data, regardless of business line. This basic capability is critical to delivering on the promise of omnichannel customer experiences and achieving the same type of frictionless journeys customers experience in their consumer lives.

The report breaks CRM progress into three key areas:

Recognizing the promise of CRM: Data from CRM platforms give teams the ability to be more relevant in their efforts to acquire and retain customers. Through intelligent engagement, the customer becomes the center of the relationship. Engagement is more accurate and profitable with new technology. AI and machine learning empowered CRM systems drive the sales process by uncovering unmet needs, cross-sell opportunities, and key transaction trends – leading to deeper, more personalized, and loyal relationships. API-enabled technologies are now table stakes and one of the only ways financial institutions can escape their data fragmentation.

Relationship managers: Banks need to staff properly to realize the promise of CRM. The internal managers of CRM can be more productive if they consistently have the ability to unify data and deliver a complete view of relationship data and linkages. As the report states: “Growing customer portfolios and an increasingly broad range of product offers make it nearly impossible for relationship managers to provide personalized and authentic experiences at scale with current solutions. Over 85% of revenues in an average customer portfolio come from the 25% of relationships they know best. What if they could engage ALL of their customers in the same proactive manner?”

Choosing the right strategy: FIs need to identify improvements they want to achieve and how it will affect the overall customer experience. Don’t let the technology define the strategy. Technology itself will not create the incremental changes to client experience and overall digital transformation that financial institutions are looking to achieve. It starts with the alignment of goals, leadership teams, and both human and financial resources. While not all relationship management solutions focus on AI and analytics, it is a clear enabler for those capabilities. They require a “single source of truth” to produce timely and relevant intelligence. Getting “buy-in” from key stakeholders should be one of the first steps taken before vetting fintech partners or developing a homegrown solution.

Selecting the right partner is the foundation of any CRM initiative. Without the right customer knowledge and the ability to deploy it banks will miss out on growth opportunities. Adapting quickly to the changes in customer preferences will be the difference between competing and being an also-ran for banks.


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Related topics

Banking Services CRM
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John Gaffney

John Gaffney articulates the vision and strategy of the next phase of business for leading brands and their executives. An award-winning journalist, he has most recently been managing editor of, and created B2B content platforms and content for Mastercard from 2014-2018. As one of the original journalists in digital marketing, he has been editor of Mediapost and other newsletters during the industry’s formative years.
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