Build On the Shift to Digital to Build the Future of Financial Services

The pan­dem­ic has undoubt­ed­ly result­ed in untold changes dur­ing 2020, while also prompt­ing growth in areas such as telemed­i­cine, eCom­merce, and the lib­er­al use of the word unprece­dent­ed. But even pre-COVID, con­sumers in the finan­cial ser­vices indus­try had fun­da­men­tal­ly changed their demands and expec­ta­tions. They want­ed per­son­al expe­ri­ences deliv­ered at the right moment, that tied togeth­er their behav­iours across every channel.

That made cus­tomer expe­ri­ence the num­ber one pri­or­i­ty for banks, insur­ance agen­cies, and invest­ment firms. Mar­keters shift­ed their focus to man­ag­ing cus­tomer data and jour­neys, tar­get­ing seg­ments, and per­son­al­is­ing ser­vices. Their pri­ma­ry con­cern was the inabil­i­ty to respond rapid­ly enough to mar­ket demands.

The pan­dem­ic inten­si­fied the need for finan­cial ser­vices brands to be present in the moments that mat­tered to cus­tomers. Being advanced in cus­tomer expe­ri­ence became vital. Long-term strate­gic ini­tia­tives trans­formed imme­di­ate­ly into short-term tac­ti­cal solu­tions requir­ing dig­i­tal offer­ings, deep­er cus­tomer insights, and organ­i­sa­tion­al changes.

Now, it’s crit­i­cal to ensure that cus­tomers who adopt­ed new behav­iours – for exam­ple, using mobile to deposit checks or man­age invest­ments – don’t revert to pre­vi­ous prac­tices. Finan­cial ser­vices firms need to take their learn­ings about dig­i­tal adop­tion and trans­for­ma­tion, and use them to shape the future of finan­cial services.

Here are six steps to get started.

1. Bet­ter under­stand your customer

The way cus­tomers inter­act with you has changed for­ev­er, shift­ing from the phys­i­cal world to the dig­i­tal. You need to under­stand their new behav­iours and be able to act on them in real time. Cus­tomers may use web­sites, apps, call cen­tres, and even branch­es. Col­lect data across all of them.

With a detailed and up-to-the minute cus­tomer pro­file, you can offer con­tent, prod­ucts, and ser­vices that are tru­ly help­ful. For exam­ple, a cus­tomer look­ing for a mort­gage may inter­act with paid media, web­sites, mobile apps, and ATMs. You need to be aware of all their behav­iour to pre­dict and pro­vide exact­ly what they need at each step.

2. Encour­age cus­tomers to keep using dig­i­tal channels

Over the past few months, many cus­tomers have been forced to switch offline behav­iours for dig­i­tal capa­bil­i­ties. Even cus­tomers who inter­act­ed with your firm only through branch­es, call cen­tres, and paper let­ters now have a dig­i­tal foot­print you can map to past behav­iours, both phys­i­cal and dig­i­tal. You don’t want your cus­tomers going back to old, cum­ber­some, and expen­sive phys­i­cal chan­nels. To encour­age them to con­duct activ­i­ties online going for­ward, you need to tar­get them both there and offline in a way that’s per­son­al and per­sis­tent, but also sen­si­tive and empathetic.

Cus­tomers who fail to con­vert can also pro­vide valu­able infor­ma­tion to fine-tune your tar­get seg­ment and analyse the non-respon­ders. With that infor­ma­tion, you can more suc­cess­ful­ly pro­mote dig­i­tal ser­vices and save pro­cess­ing time for your cus­tomers and your business.

3. Adapt com­mu­ni­ca­tions to cus­tomer behaviour

Many finan­cial ser­vices firms pulled acqui­si­tion activ­i­ty when the pan­dem­ic hit. Acquir­ing cus­tomers and sell­ing prod­ucts and ser­vices didn’t align with their aim to demon­strate sym­pa­thy and empa­thy in such trou­bling times. To strike the right tone, you need data to cre­ate a cross-chan­nel, uni­fied cus­tomer view. For now, it’s not as crit­i­cal to deliv­er the right mes­sage to the right cus­tomer at the right time. Rather, you want to ensure you don’t serve the wrong mes­sage to the wrong per­son at the wrong time.

For instance, you want to notice if a cus­tomer is no longer deposit­ing a check every sec­ond week, sug­gest­ing that she’s lost her job or been fur­loughed. That’s not the time to send word of an unbe­liev­ably great rate on sav­ings accounts. With a 360-degree view, you can get per­son­al­i­sa­tion right. More impor­tant­ly, you’re less like­ly to mis­han­dle com­mu­ni­ca­tions, offend cus­tomers, and lose them.

4. Reduce poten­tial cus­tomer churn

Some cus­tomers may have had a bad expe­ri­ence with your firm and be look­ing to leave. You can use cross-chan­nel data to iden­ti­fy them – along with churn trig­gers – to feed propen­si­ty mod­els that also include long-term cus­tomer val­ue. To sup­port the cus­tomer and pre­vent them leav­ing, proac­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tions tar­get­ed to these cus­tomers in the right way can high­light new fea­tures, capa­bil­i­ties, and offer­ings, from mar­ket insights to invest­ing tools to man­aged port­fo­lios. For exam­ple, this might be a time­ly email talk­ing about new ser­vices or fea­tures that would improve their experience.

5. Rein­tro­duce branch­es and pri­ori­tise key customers

As branch­es reopen, you may want to reserve phys­i­cal chan­nels for those who need them most. Here’s a three-part approach:

Iden­ti­fy pain points: Pin­point “breaks” in the dig­i­tal expe­ri­ence that dri­ve peo­ple to phys­i­cal chan­nels. Then pri­ori­tise where to improve the cus­tomer jour­ney. For exam­ple, one UK high street bank is look­ing at breaks in the jour­ney for cus­tomers who go online but end up call­ing the call cen­tre with­in 30 min­utes, indi­cat­ing they were try­ing to self-serve but could not.

Proac­tive­ly respond: Keep peo­ple in dig­i­tal chan­nels by engag­ing them with chat­bots and AI-dri­ven tools.

Merge online and offline: Use the uni­fied cus­tomer view in the call cen­tre to enhance con­ver­sa­tions and resolve issues quick­ly, expe­dit­ing calls.

Tak­ing this approach will free up phys­i­cal chan­nels for those who tru­ly need them.

6. Move phys­i­cal solu­tions toward dig­i­tal at scale.

To main­tain and grow dig­i­tal ser­vices, you need capa­bil­i­ties like dig­i­tal forms, AI chat­bots, and advanced mobile fea­tures. For exam­ple, TSB recent­ly released 18 forms online and processed over 80,000 online inter­ac­tions using Adobe Sign. That could have required as many as 15,000 in-branch vis­its. Cus­tomers are also using mobile to man­age sav­ings, track cred­it card usage, and han­dle larg­er accounts like mort­gages and invest­ments. Giv­en the chang­ing con­sumer behav­iour and chal­lenges serv­ing cus­tomers in branch, invest­ing in these new dig­i­tal capa­bil­i­ties has nev­er been more important.

Still, humans crave con­nec­tion. Remote engage­ment via video can sub­sti­tute when peo­ple can’t meet face to face. In the UK, banks like Natwest, Bar­clays, and HSBC are all using “video bank­ing” more promi­nent­ly today. Scal­ing this one-to-one sup­port requires a com­bi­na­tion of mul­ti­chan­nel tools, includ­ing appoint­ment book­ing, video, and elec­tron­ic forms and sig­na­tures. But video chats also elim­i­nate the need to expand to more expen­sive phys­i­cal loca­tions. Cus­tomers find engag­ing remote­ly con­ve­nient and effec­tive, and employ­ees appre­ci­ate the safer environment.

Invest now to shape the future

We’re nev­er going back. But meet­ing the demands of mov­ing for­ward gives finan­cial ser­vices firms an unpar­al­leled oppor­tu­ni­ty to use the gains in recent months and build on them to make a leap for­ward. If you haven’t yet, start your dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion. If you have, accel­er­ate your capabilities.

Adobe can help with seam­less, per­son­alised, dig­i­tal cus­tomer expe­ri­ences through­out the finan­cial ser­vices industry.