Using big data to improve the customer experience

By James Blake | 7 December 2016

Enticing new customers and understanding existing ones in order to encourage brand loyalty is essential in every sector, and has arguably never been more important than it is today. Consumers are saturated with marketing when it comes to products and services of all types, and the financial services industry is no different.

Fintech start-ups have been appearing at an increasingly rapid rate, leaving consumers with plenty of options for lending, insurance, banking, and much more – rather than having to rely on the handful of traditional players.

With so much choice, differentiation is key in order to win new business. One reason for the popularity of many fintech providers, including online banks and lenders, is their seamless user journey. From using a smartphone to make contactless payments and being able to chat to an expert on demand, modern consumers demand quick and easy access to services they require. Too many steps before a payment, too many details to input into a form or a complicated user interface can each prevent a customer from using a service or completing a payment. Word travels fast in the digital age, and if a fintech company can make the customer’s life easy, it is bound to be popular.

One matter where traditional financial services organisations often fall down is identity verification, which typically happens at the outset of a customer application. Often lengthy verification processes, such as disclosing personal details and providing a utility bill when applying for a loan, can feel like stumbling blocks for consumers. But these steps are vital in stopping identity fraud.

This is one of many areas where big data can help. Big data analytics tools can provide a modern form of ID verification. By consensually harnessing a customer’s existing digital footprint they can assess whether an individual is who they claim to be. With consent from the user, these tools can help to verify their identity by looking at both the quality and quantity of data available about them online and ensuring this is consistent, meaningful and real. This can be done in real-time, without affecting the customer experience.

It is easy for criminals looking to commit fraud to create fake emails or accounts, but it’s much more difficult for them to fake an entire, active, interconnected digital existence, which is why a digital footprint can be such an effective form of identification. This method can also be used to prefill lengthy forms with basic personal information, which can really speed up an application process.

Big data can also deliver significant benefits when it comes to consumer marketing. Consumer expectations have never been higher when it comes to engagement with brands.  Contact must be relevant and timely, otherwise the email will be deleted or the letter put in the bin. Every customer is different, and with so much choice, it is important that finance companies aren’t perceived as just another irritating company that is after money.

Again, this is where big data comes in. There are tools available that consensually access a customer’s digital footprint in order to create a bespoke and personalised offering tailored to the customer’s requirements. By looking at an individual’s likes, dislikes and life events, businesses can provide their customers with targeted and personalised offers, which add real value to their overall experience. This helps to reduce the frustration that comes with consumers being hounded by irrelevant marketing, and therefore enables businesses to build a loyal pool of customers based on long-term personal relationships.

We’ve only looked at two instances here where big data can be a valuable tool which enhances the customer experience, enabling companies to better cater to the needs of the customer. In a sector with as many options as the financial services sector, companies need to do everything they can in order to stand out. Focus on seamless and personalised user journeys and use big data to help get you there. 

By James Blake, CEO, Hello Soda