Why financial services organizations need to create next best experiences
Imagine this scenario — a customer goes into their local bank branch to learn about getting a loan for a home improvement project. They gain some useful information on the kind of loan they’ll need, but when they log into their bank profile online later to fill out the loan form, their experience has deteriorated. They’re delivered content about the bank’s latest credit card offer, and there’s no recognition of their in-branch interaction. Instead of having a seamless journey, they have to start from scratch.
These disconnected interactions are quite common among financial services organizations. According to the Adobe 2023 Digital Trends — Financial Services in Focus report, while 73% of B2C and 87% of B2B customers across industries want to be delighted by companies, just 15% of B2C and 37% of B2B customers said that the financial services companies they’ve interacted with recently had met that standard.
Despite this feedback from customers, financial services organizations have achieved pockets of excellence. A recent Forrester Consulting study commissioned by Adobe reports that personalization initiatives in financial services are exceeding business expectations for revenue (64%), customer experience (62%), and customer acquisition (61%). While this success is invigorating, personalization efforts need to constantly evolve alongside customer expectations.
Many financial services organizations are oriented around delivering the next best offer — a product-centric way of thinking that is aligned with what’s most valuable for the organization rather than what’s most valuable for the customer. Instead, financial services organizations should look to Experience Leaders who are beginning to reorient their organizations around delivering next best experiences.
Trade offers for experiences
Delivering next best experiences means aligning interactions around what your customers are trying to achieve — not just your business goals. This goes beyond creating defined customer journeys for specific use cases. It’s also about having the context of knowing that a customer might dip in and out of certain journeys and that their own path may not be linear. And from there, it’s about using a journey optimizer tool to give customers as much relevant information as possible to get them to their goal.
The next best experiences that financial services organizations deliver are shaped by three main factors — data, content, and the customer journey. A journey optimizer tool uses all three to create insights and then deliver experiences that will best serve the customer, all while building trust in the process. For example, when a customer receives relevant financial advice for navigating complex forms and processes, it demonstrates how their bank can be a source of financial knowledge and support. And when financial services organizations learn more about that customer’s unique needs and feed these insights into their journey optimizer tool, they can deliver even more relevant, personalized experiences.
Next best experiences look different for each customer. But to understand how different financial organizations can deliver next best experiences, let’s explore three examples across the industry.
Don’t bank on generic journeys
Let’s start by exploring next best experiences for banking. Take the customer who’s looking to secure a new home mortgage through their bank. Right from the start, the bank needs to understand the customer’s context. Are they an existing customer who’s secured a mortgage before? Have they just bought a new house, or are they just looking to refinance? Or is it their first time altogether going through this process? This is crucial information, but it's often overlooked.
Let’s say this customer has never secured a home mortgage before. By using data to understand a customer’s starting point, the bank can use a journey optimizer tool to enrich the process and make the rest of that journey more relevant. As the customer interacts with the bank’s online mortgage calculator, they’re offered relevant content about the different types of mortgage options and other financial tips as they calculate their own. From there, the journey optimizer tool identifies the parts of their journey they found helpful and automatically builds similar experiences into the channels they use most. That way, the bank can retain the customer’s interest while its marketing team saves time and resources.
Because applying for a mortgage is complicated, there may be times when this customer needs more support. A journey optimizer tool helps marketers understand their needs and refer them to the right information — or to an alternate journey altogether — instead of the customer abandoning their current journey and calling into the bank’s call center. If the customer does want to talk with a representative, this is an opportunity for the bank to provide the right level of service to each customer based on their profile and the unique actions that led them to make that call. Someone borrowing $500,000 may have a more straightforward process than someone borrowing $2.5 million, meaning each requires a slightly different service. Being able to recognize and align with the customer’s journey — especially in these nuanced moments — means the bank can create opportunities to build trust. This all leads to customers making more informed decisions and confidently selecting the mortgage offer that meets their needs rather than jumping straight into picking rates.
Keep wealth and asset management in context
Next, we’ll explore how wealth and asset management organizations can deliver these types of progressive, personalized experiences. First, it’s important for a financial services organization to orient experiences around the level of service their customers may require. Wealth management is often a B2C journey that’s driven by automated experiences. By contrast, asset management is typically a B2B journey that requires the kind of high-touch, concierge-level service that challenges marketers to combine digital interactions and personal engagement from a relationship manager.
Take a customer who’s checking on their tax-free savings allowances, which are held in an IRA. They’ve just logged into their online account to look up a question about their plan. As they navigate to the answer, there’s an opportunity for the online system to factor in not only what type of IRA they’ve selected but also what interactions they’ve had, whether they’re consuming thought leadership, reading certain pieces of content, or interacting with second-party partners. By integrating this information, the online system can automatically provide more tailored guidance around how to maximize their tax benefits and savings and offer it within a journey that matches both their goals and behaviors. And if that customer has a more specific follow-up question, those online interactions are easily accessible by their advisor. That way, the customer can seamlessly continue their journey without having to first explain the information they gathered on the website.
Asset management journeys have the opportunity to combine digital and personal interactions into a highly tailored approach. Take, for example, a customer calling to speak with their asset management firm means business. If they want to talk about fixed income, that relationship manager can’t start the conversation talking about equities. Fundamentally understanding how their portfolio is structured is important, but to properly address their customer’s needs in those moments, relationship managers must also learn to use insights about how that customer has been engaging — like what specific thought leadership, emails, or newsletters they’ve read or if they’ve subscribed to specific fund performance updates — to steer those conversations in the right direction.
Build trust into your insurance policy
Lastly, we’ll explore a scenario where an insurance agency can benefit from delivering next best experiences. The fundamental challenge with insurance is that this sub-industry has less interaction with its customers. Most often, customers only engage with their insurer at the point of renewal or when filing a claim. Next best experiences create opportunities for insurance agencies to build deeper relationships, but here it’s especially important that these experiences engage customers more consistently.
Let’s take a customer who’s looking for a quote for auto insurance. This is a highly price-sensitive journey, especially when this customer has received a renewal quote that’s higher than last year. At this point, the customer will request a lower rate from their provider — or without brand loyalty, they’ll move their policy to an insurance provider that can offer a lower rate. If this customer is going to decide to stay with their original provider, it’s fundamental that their experiences throughout the year are as valuable as when they first made the decision to choose that insurance provider.
Opportunities for the next best experiences can emerge by linking renewal and insurance claims into one portal. Let’s say that earlier in the year, this same customer got into an accident. When they submitted the claim, they were already familiar with the portal from their last renewal. From there, the insurance company’s journey optimizer tool removed their upcoming birthday message and instead delivered an article on how to be better prepared for accidents. Later, they received a message about the agency’s accident forgiveness policies. Now that it’s again time to renew their policy, this customer has built trust with their insurer, and they may be more inclined to continue this relationship despite the higher policy rate.
Get started with the right tools
To build trusted relationships with your customers, you need to focus your experiences on what’s valuable to them — not what’s valuable to your financial services organization. That means shifting from delivering only offers for your key products to providing a wider variety of content that’s relevant to their specific needs. Providing these more valuable experiences for your customers also creates more value for your organization. Your customers will feel more engaged and loyal to your brand, which results in better conversion and increased revenue for your organization.
No matter your financial services sub-industry, a journey optimizer tool that combines data, content, and journey channels can help you prioritize and personalize experiences that match your customers’ unique journeys in real time. Even as your customers dip in and out of certain journeys, you’ll enable your teams — including marketers, relationship managers, wealth advisors, and service representatives — to efficiently see how and when they engage and nourish that relationship with relevant experiences in just the right moments.
Simon joined Adobe in 2019 having previously spent over 20 years in Financial Services. During this time, he built and led global teams focussed on leveraging digital channels and analytical insight across Investment Banking, Wealth Management and Asset Management. As a former practitioner, he has extensive experience of delivering customer-centric digital experiences in order to deepen customer relationships and drive new business opportunities.