5 Tips For Financial Marketers to Tap AI’s Personalization Potential

In a world where most consumers think and act 'digital-first,' financial marketers must leverage new technologies enabling personalized interactions and offers — in real time, and in any channel. Fintechs have the edge over traditional institutions... for now. But this will shrink as more banks and credit unions embrace AI tools.
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While fintech companies have been at the leading edge of artificial intelligence (AI)-powered innovation, financial services marketers are making up ground fast. McKinsey Global Institute says healthcare, financial services, and professional services have seen the greatest increase in their profit margins because of AI adoption.

Advances in digital and mobile banking have created a “greenfield” of new opportunities for bank and credit union marketers, including leveraging data to map, analyze, and optimize the customer journey through inbound and outbound marketing interactions.

For financial brands beginning to transform their marketing, there are five best practices that will enhance customer engagement across the customer journey.

1. Use AI to Help Make The Move From Product to Customer Focus

It’s a tough transition to make for many traditional financial institutions, but by letting go of a static product-centric orientation, your institution will be able to embrace innovation that focuses on consumer needs in real time. The innovation includes using AI and machine learning systems to understand context in the moment and to serve a personalized message to that consumer at the right time.

Leading banks and credit unions, for example, are beginning to create offers and corresponding content across a wide variety of banking products and services in response to real-time consumer interactions. Each time a person connects within a channel, a real-time call is made to the AI decisioning engine. The software considers the consumer’s recent activity, context, and other behaviors and then delivers the next-best action/offer to the person through the most appropriate channel, such as an outbound customer email, a script delivered to a teller or call center associate, or a customized banner ad.

Sure, you still have product goals, and while the customer is important, you still have to meet business objectives. The great thing about always-on machine learning is that it enables bank and credit union marketers to have their cake and eat it too. In other words, the technology allows the institution to balance what’s best for marketing and finance without giving up the ability to be responsive, relevant, and valuable to the customer.

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2. Improve Retention By Correctly Interpreting Consumer Signals

Retention of the most valuable households is always a key part of the marketing conversation at financial institutions. AI more readily predicts what a customer needs and then applies that intelligence to personalize retention offers delivered through the channels that the consumer most often uses.

Sophisticated machine learning also gives banks and credit unions the ability to identify which customers are at risk of leaving and why. For example, through constant monitoring, the decisioning engine categorizes that the customer is likely considering leaving due to fees. The software sends a next-best action to, for example, the local branch banker for an outreach call to initiate a retention-based conversation.

3. Think Omnichannel — Across Inbound and Outbound Marketing

As financial services marketers, we all know that the consumer’s journey is not linear. Despite this knowledge, marketing organizations everywhere invest money and resources in designing the perfect consumer journey. But what happens when our customers don’t follow our pre-determined path? Our customers expect, and really demand, a seamless experience across all channels. The marketing technologies now available make it possible for banks to have a 360-degree view of the customer. Marketers are using that capability to deliver a superior and consistent experience across all channels.

4. Use Personalization to Bring Decisioning to Life

Because banking customers are moving more and more to digital channels for their every day banking, it’s more important than ever for financial marketers to push their organizations toward a digital-first mindset. The majority of U.S. consumers already have that mindset. According to a survey conducted by Morning Consult for the American Bankers Association, online and mobile banking together represent the primary banking channels for two-thirds of Americans.

Bank and credit union leaders today insist on digital excellence to make it easy for consumers to bank seamlessly online, through a mobile app and via live-chat functionality. Likewise, more financial institutions are pushing in on the ability to apply for and open more types of accounts completely online. By leveraging automated decisioning behind the scenes, you gain the ability to deliver truly personalized experiences within digital channels as easily as traditional channels.

For example, a customer mentions her daughter’s upcoming wedding to the branch associate, who captures this information in the system. The next time the customer logs onto her mobile app, she sees a message about borrowing for life’s important moments and a pre-approved message for a personal loan. The customer can click on the link and complete the entire process online.

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5. Enable Real-Time Interactions

AI gives traditional financial institutions the ability to direct “consumer conversations” in real time. imagine a scenario, for example, where AI-powered social listening detects negative sentiment from a customer in social media and indicates to the real-time decision engine that intervention is needed. This could lead to the AI software triggering a new set of messages and/or initiating a call to the center, so that a bank representative can intervene. This kind of intervention is determined by the software, based on its interpretation of events.

To succeed with your banking customers today, you must remember that your customer expects a financial partner to do three things: “know me, understand me, and help me.” Market leaders are using AI and other tools to do just that.

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