In the context of a continuously-evolving consumer landscape, increasing competition and rising customer expectations, banks are conscious of putting the customer first to enhance the customer journey by providing a personalised experience and tailored products and services, writes Dharshan Naidoo, Sales Team Lead for SADC at Infobip.

Industry research shows that 15% of global banking customers are currently mobile-dominant, meaning that they rely on mobile devices to complete the majority of their transactions. Furthermore, by 2021, 85% of banks and businesses will perform customer engagement with the help of Artificial Intelligence (AI) chatbots.

However, perhaps an even more crucial consideration is that the rewards for consistent customer experience integration in digital banking are huge. Data shows that financial institutions that use omnichannel strategies retain 89% of their customers on average, as compared to 33% for those with weak omnichannel engagement.

This demonstrates the importance for banks to move away from legacy systems and adopt an omnichannel communication approach that offers the same customer engagement experience across all channels. This experience must also be personalised and tailored according to customer demographics, as the modern day end user expects their bank to understand their needs and expectations.

Omnichannel evolution

The evolution of the omnichannel experience in banking and financial services was significantly accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with only about 20-25% of institutions investing in omnichannel solutions a decade ago. By 2020, this figure had risen to 80% as banks are starting to look at omnichannel strategies to increase wallet share, reduce the cost of services and retaining clients, as well as recognising it as key to enhancing the customer experience (CX).

Essentially, the pandemic pushed CX and convenience to the forefront, as customers were not able to visit physical branches, but expected a digital banking experience that consequently now also offered 24/7 availability via their preferred channels. As such, the majority of banking customers now expect to be able to start and complete banking transactions seamlessly using different devices, as well as the ability to use a different channel depending on the context of a particular transaction.

Thus, a unified omnichannel engagement strategy, underpinned by automation, such as AI chatbots, has become central to customer satisfaction and retention.

Aside from seamlessly delivering the same experience over multiple communication channels and devices, an omnichannel strategy must also meet customers’ expectations of delivering products and services that are personalised and customised to individual needs, targeting the right customer at the right time.

Data-led engagement

This is where the importance of data-led engagements comes in, with banks needing to leverage big data effectively to deploy marketing campaigns and product offerings that are relevant to specific customers. Therefore, data – which is gathered across all touchpoints along a customer journey – is crucial for banks to optimise their customer relationships.

Using customer data insights effectively allows banks to not only segment their customers into different demographics and offer products that are relevant to different groups, but also allows for personalisation of campaigns and promotions that can be triggered by life events and other milestones, which enhances the customer journey.

While customer insights are key to meeting customers’ continuous demands for a tailored, enhanced banking experience, many banks are still failing to capitalise on every touchpoint and are thus unable to fully monetise their data. More work needs to be done in this area, as having meaningful customer insights is no longer a nice to have, but an absolute necessity.

Unifying data

An omnichannel communication strategy is key to unifying customer data, allowing banks to work with one source of “truth”. Banks must focus on effectively building customer profiles to be able to deploy campaigns across multiple channels and deliver highly personalised and customised content that is based on information that has been fed into one unifying platform.

This approach will help banks to connect with their customers in a deeper and more meaningful way, while at the same time providing a personal touch via the digital interactions that will ensure that customers feel valued. Stronger customer connections will result in better customer acquisition and retention.

By developing a better understanding of the different areas of CX, banks can deliver an extensive customer engagement strategy that closes the gaps between them and their customers. Focusing on the CX in the banking ecosystem holds much potential for growth and gaining a competitive edge in what is a rapidly changing landscape.

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