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  • NETMEDIA International

[Tribune] Traditional banks: towards a hyper-personalisation of customer relations

The need to stay connected at a distance has prompted many players in the banking sector to reconsider the place of the individual. This has had a major impact on customer relations in traditional banks, which now place the customer at the centre of their concerns.

In the midst of a turbulent period marked by an almost total absence of social ties, traditional banks have made digital transformation an absolute priority in order to bridge the distance between themselves and their customers. The sheer urgency of the situation has forced them to quickly offer digital solutions tailored to customers to compensate for the sudden closure of branches. Between the improvement and optimisation of mobile applications and the need to prioritise an omnichannel strategy, no traditional bank has been able to avoid these sudden changes. However, it would be misleading to consider these changes as unexpected, as most traditional banks were already aware of the importance of gradually taking the digital turn, even before the health crisis.

The latter has therefore played a role in accelerating the digital transition within banks and has also amplified the deployment of their online offers. Faced with this new configuration, the main challenge for banks is to manage this remote customer relationship by managing to maintain or even improve the quality and responsiveness of customer feedback. This is a major challenge that has consequences for their business model and encourages them to offer an identical customer experience regardless of the channel. It is likely that banks will increasingly invest in new digital solutions (digital wallet, banking chatbot, mobile payment, open APIs, etc.) to increase their level of digital maturity and offer increasingly efficient and profitable services. It is therefore no coincidence that digital transformation (75%) and improving the customer experience (51%) are the two priorities for banks in 2021, according to a study conducted by Financial Brand.

The era of hyper-personalisation

The health crisis has also highlighted the growing need for customers to have advice that is increasingly adapted to their expectations. Indeed, nearly 40% of them could change banks for more personalised services and 62% of consumers expect their bank to adapt its service according to their behaviour, according to a study published by ContentStack. This personalisation has already been taken up by the new banks, which have been able to respond to the very specific needs of users since their arrival on the market, while offering a fluid digital customer experience. Traditional banks, on the other hand, do not have the same agility and flexibility to adapt quickly to the changes observed in neo-banks.

To overcome customer volatility, a detailed understanding of their expectations is a prerequisite for traditional banks if they wish to anticipate their needs and provide advice in real time. The contribution of data is essential here in order to map the multiple customer journeys and predict the next best action. A process that allows both the automation of communication and the introduction of new banking products to the customer. We are therefore gradually moving towards a hyper-personalised customer relationship that enables the bank to know its customers better than they know themselves.

Reconsidering the role of the advisor

The days when customers kept their bank advisor for more than 20 years and developed a special relationship with him/her seem long gone. The improvement of the online customer experience and the resulting drop in branch visits will gradually relieve the advisor and lead customers to carry out a certain number of operations via digital means. However, although the online offer has been widely developed, the advisor remains the preferred contact for users for complex operations. According to Deloitte's figures, nearly 45% of French people said in 2019 that they had carried out one or more complex operations in a branch.

We can already assume that the customer will always need physical contact with an advisor in a branch. This is all the more true given that the bank manages one of the most important aspects of its customers' lives, namely their money. Nevertheless, it is clear that in the long term, the role and functioning of the advisor will evolve towards greater complementarity with the online customer experience. Beyond the technical skills of the advisor, the best way to build customer loyalty will be through the advisor's ability to listen and show more empathy when automated systems are unable to do so.

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