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The Promise of Personalization

Financial institutions have sought to personalize the banking experience since data first became available. In my first job in financial services about 35 years ago we began to incorporate personalization into our marketing and our planning.

Geographic Personalization

We used it at a basic level based with the information we had available. Our first major implementation of highly personalized marketing came in the form of our planning tools. We incorporated basic philosophies from the book, “The Clustering of America.” It had just been published and it used the best data at the time to create buying segments. The notion was that birds of a feather flock together, and that where you lived implied certain buying behaviors.

You might call them “personas” today. There were 40 different segments that we applied to our branch system and then built goals for each branch based on the market characteristics that each branch competed within. For instance, we’d expect an area with an older population to have higher demand for rate-sensitive savings product and younger populations demanding higher loan purchases in general.

With the growth of transactions increasing outside of the branch environment, how do you effectively target users and allocate the right opportunities to your company?

What People Want Today

According to a study by Boston Consulting Group, the typical banking customer answers the following question in this manner:

“I want my bank (or credit union) to be more like:
I know what I need by I’m open to some relevant automated feedback.

A Personal Shopper……..29%
I know I need something, I just don’t know where to start.

A Supermarket……..16%
I know what I need, and I know it will have it.

My Doctor/Dentist……..11%
I don’t enjoy going, but I know I need to go regularly for important help.

My Gym……..6%
I want it to be an important part of my regular routine.

With such a wide range of buyer expectations, knowing which users personify the various mindsets is really the first step to creating some form of personalized service. What the use of delivering a hyper-personalized service to someone that doesn’t want it?

The Journey of Personalization

We know that banking services are saturated and hyper-competitive. Moving towards a more personalized experience is the goal to create higher engagement, lower attrition, stronger loyalty and becoming that “top of wallet” provider.

The path isn’t the same for everyone and yours should be created in line with your account-holders goals, and expectations, matched up against your ability to deliver the operational horsepower necessary when and where they need it.

Your decisions and actions are data dependent. Strive to know what your users want and need before creating a process that may actually push people away.

Assumptions can be dangerous.

I remember once receiving some information sent to me in Spanish from a large institution. I don’t speak Spanish, but they thought that since I have a “De” in my last name, I probably was. Their attempts to personalize actually resulted in a loss of credibility and a weaker relationship.