Systems and strategies are needed for financial services firms to succeed

Marketing professionals in the financial services industry face a number of challenges integrating customer data and cross-channel marketing.  While banks, credit unions and other financial institutions often have a wealth of data at their fingertips, studies find that many struggle to leverage that information effectively across multiple marketing channels. This lack of integration can erode financial firm performance as the competitive landscape continues to evolve. Customers expect an increasingly seamless and transparent experience while the number of channels for discovery and evaluation of new products and services continue to increase.

The Customer Data Challenge

A recent study conducted by interviewed over 275 banking and financial services executives (between $500 million and $ 5 billion in revenue) and almost half of the companies surveyed said that they are not effective at leveraging customer data. Executives fear that their lack of understanding of customer behavior is leading to a tremendous gap in delivering cross-channel customer experiences.  That gap is getting attention; improving customer experience ranks as a top priority for 2014.

Financial institutions are not the only organizations that are turning their attention to “managing customer experience.” New data from Forrester Research reveals it as a top priority across all major industries. One study surveyed 400 senior marketing and 250 IT executives in 10 countries representing organizations with an annual revenue of at least $500 million. Both CMO’s and CIO’s (52%) said that customer engagement is at the top of strategic planning lists. A third (30%) of the marketing executives pointed to creating sustainable and engaging customer relationships as critical for sustained profitability. About quarter of the IT respondents (22%) indicated a growing technological focus on customer experience.

The Promise of Digital

The time is right for financial institutions to cash in on the promise of digital; but more than the technology to enable the process, the right strategic approach is essential to integrate actions that nurture customer experience. Products and services should be enhanced by the use of appropriate customer data to provide relevant messaging, facilitate targeted cross-sell and up-sell campaigns, and in general broaden and nurture the ongoing relationship with each customer. With that strategic direction, banks, credit unions and other financial service firms can gain market advantage.

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