Finding, Understanding And Keeping Bank Customers in 2013

Nicole Kealey

Bank customers and their dataThere is nothing new about the struggle to win new business. Banks have always competed to find and retain high-value customers. And, just as the “job for life” is increasingly a thing of the past, banks cannot trust inertia to keep customers – especially when other banks are actively looking to attract valuable customers.

Products and people – how are customers seen?

Bank customers are very different from traditional sales contacts in a conventional CRM system. Rather than a planned contact every week or month, banks and their customers constantly interact, in ways small and large – from a cash withdrawal to a mortgage application.

All those interactions create a mass of data, which banks can collate, analyse and use to build true customer understanding.

Banks can do all that, but how often do they?

Currently, the number and lack of context of these interactions means that these interactions are often read as noise rather than signal.

Discussing the “total customer experience”, Daniel Mayo of Ovum concludes that most banks’ level of customer understanding remains low. Where insight into customers exists, it is often static – identifying the products a particular customer holds, but not following changes in anything like real time.

By seeing a customer as a set of products rather than an individual, banks lose the opportunity to meet or anticipate individual needs. Ironically, a product-centric viewpoint may cost a bank the chance to cross-sell valuable products. At worst, it may lead not just to a lost sale but a lost customer.

Making the change to customer-centricity

How will 2013 be different?

At SAP, we believe that this year banks will have their best chance yet to match their customer understanding to the new, data-rich and fast-moving digital world.

True customer insight demands a complete picture at the moment of contact with a customer – however that was initiated. It is not just a list of what accounts or products that customer might hold.

Technologies such as in-memory processing are making it possible to aggregate, store, process and analyse the enormous amounts of data generated by customer activity. Vastly increased processing speed and analytical sophistication will build coherent, 360-degree views of customers and their needs, and deliver the right suggestions – products, rewards or incentives – at the right time to increase profitability and loyalty.

Will 2013 be the year of the customer? Can a balance be struck between targeted marketing and perceived intrusiveness?