How data is the key to improving the retail banking experience

By Steven Walters | 7 January 2016

In days gone by, accessing banking services like setting up direct debits, transferring money and paying bills meant a visit to your local bank. You would wait in the queue until an adviser was free and then your journey would begin. Today, of course, most of us complete these simpler transactions online or even through secure smartphone applications and with more than half of UK households now owning a tablet, and over 60% of Brits using phones to get online, according to Ofcom, this trend is only set to rise in 2016 and in years to come.

However, for more complex transactions such as setting up new accounts, taking out a loan or making changes to mortgage repayments, it is still necessary to visit a banking branch to have these more detailed conversations.

And while most large banks have invested significant sums to upgrade their digital infrastructure, there is considerable work to be done for retail banks to reach these ever increasing customer experience standards. Many are still relying on archaic and slow-to-process paper forms, business lines that don’t talk to each other and systems that restrict staff to exclusively working within their physical branches.

So how can banks use data to improve their retail branches, so that the customer experience matches the performance of their digital tools?

Capture, digitise and manage customer information from multiple sources

Banking customers don’t simply engage using just one source. They will use the platform that is easiest for them at the time, in order to make the banking process as seamless as possible for them.

Traditionally, banks have regularly distributed and printed promotional material to all or large groups of their customers, at a significant cost to their organisations. Yet, by harnessing the data they have internally, this doesn’t have to be the case moving forwards.

By analysing their own Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, banks can learn how people access information and tailor their marketing towards this. By adopting a far more personalised approach, banks will achieve higher levels of engagement and build closer relationships with their customer which is integral as customers increasingly take to social media to voice their concerns over poor customer service.

Branch teams, not buildings

Even when our requirements are beyond the capabilities of an app or online banking, we can’t always make it into our local branch – and we’re not always free between Monday and Friday. Yet, this shouldn’t stop us from being able to access important advice and services.

By harnessing technology to join up branches, customers are always connected to expert advisers who have the right knowledge to handle their enquiries and provide first class advice, wherever they’re based.

And it shouldn’t stop there. Even if a customer can’t leave their home, banks should use technology to ensure they can still have a secure ‘face-to-face’ conversation. Technology like unified communications (UC) enables expert staff to connect with customers when and how it’s convenient to them – whether they’re at home or on the go – by phone, email, live web-chat or video conference. Bringing the bank to the customer will become increasingly important as people across all age-groups become digitally-savvy and demand more services at the touch of a button.

By harnessing their own data, banks can also build up knowledge of their customers’ preferred methods of communication, reaching out to them in the way they’re most comfortable.

Personalise products and services

Banks are already sitting on a significant amount of customer data– where they live, where and when they go on holiday, whether they have children and even if they have pets. Quite simply everything customers purchase on their cards offers a gateway into building an accurate profile of their lifestyles. Yet many banks are missing this golden opportunity to leverage this priceless information to promote additional products and services.

With that in mind, banks must ensure that their different lines of business are talking to each other. If a customer regularly books a holiday at a similar time each year, by collecting and analysing this data, a bank can be one step ahead of its rivals and offer them currency or travel insurance in the build-up to this time. The same can be applied to home, car or pet insurance – the list goes on. With the right tools to analyse customer behaviours, the potential to open up new revenue streams is endless.

Digit-all, every step of the way

In today’s digital era, in which we can make payments with apps, contactless cards, or even just through touching our smartphones against sensors, there is a wealth of data out there for banks to capitalise on.

Mobile technology has offered a new gateway into finding out more about customers than ever before. By mining this data and utilising it effectively - by contacting customers with relevant information, support and promotions - retail banks will build closer relationships with their customers, resulting in improved revenues across increasingly diverse lines of business. 

 By Steven Walters, National Sales Director, Ricoh UK.

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