The Personalization Promise: Financial Institutions Are Struggling to Deliver

April 21, 2016: Mark Michaud, Senior VP and Head of Strategy & Research

The reality for banks and credit unions is not lost on marketing departments—consumers expect the same level of personalization found in industries like hospitality, travel, eCommerce and digital entertainment. As the demographics of their consumers shifts, FinTech continues to disrupt every area of personal banking, and as branch visits steadily decline, financial services marketers know what they need to do.

But how well have they been delivering on their “personalization promise” thus far? A recent Digital Banking Report sheds light on the “personalization maturity” of more than 300 financial institutions worldwide. The verdict comes straight from the mouths of financial services marketers themselves: They recognize the importance of personalization, but are currently unable to deliver it.

Here we can see that the vast majority of financial services marketers understand the importance of knowing their customers’ or members’ personal situations. They agree it is either extremely, very or somewhat important to provide real-time customized guidance. But when it comes to their ability to do so, institutions of all asset sizes seem to fall short.

Where personalized digital guidance is concerned, the big banks scored the highest, with 22% of marketers at organizations with $50 billion or more in assets reporting an advanced ability to provide it. The 62% of marketers that have emerging abilities certainly indicates momentum, but it also proves that there is still work to be done.

Also evident is the fact that smaller banks and credit unions below the $50 billion asset are simply not ready to deliver on their promises. This group is threatened not only by larger institutions that outpace them with their use of digital technologies, but also by FinTech start-ups that provide digital personalization and self-serve technology right out of the gate.

When it comes to digital strategies, we see that financial services marketers are falling into a classic trap—prioritizing what helps them instead of what helps their customers or members.

Creating a stellar experience can buy your brand enough good will both externally and internally to put larger projects in place that can help with cross-selling. For the increasingly fickle consumer, seeing digital innovation that only helps their bank or credit union sell more—but doesn’t improve their experience—can act as the final straw.

Financial services marketers have made the first step by recognizing the importance of personalized consumer engagement. The implementation of these programs, however, is still falling short in terms of consumer expectations. By focusing on digital strategies that develop real relationships with customers and members, and providing the right service and support to build loyalty and advocacy, financial services marketers can finally begin to deliver on their personalization promise.

Mark Michaud is a Senior Vice President and Head of Strategy & Research at Ariad Communications, Bluespire’s sister agency. Originally posted on the Ariad blog.

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