Consumer insight and data in the financial sector are key for marketers to create impact

Data like spending habits & interactions can be pooled in to create rich customer profile

The amount of consumer data captured by the financial industry on a regular basis is absolutely astounding. This data is a gold mine for deriving consumer insights that can enrich consumer experience, by offering a variety of new opportunities, products, services, and solutions, that can improve customer retention and profitability.

Today, with the financial industry facing challenges on all fronts, along with ebbing sentiments, the importance of consumer insights and data simply cannot be ignored. However, while the sector is increasingly embracing the advancement of technology, its usage, till date, has largely been restricted to improving core business functions. Owing to this, customer experience in the financial sector is yet to fully benefit from the powers of technology.

Technology has helped shift the focus from a product-centric approach of financial marketing to a conversational, customer-centric method. Earlier, the marketing approach involved promoting products based on the product portfolio and the macroeconomic market indications. Now, the approach is becoming more aligned to what the consumer will need and is shopping for. A blend of both approaches, in most of the cases, will be the way forward for financial services. A number of ideas and theories that financial marketers only hypothesised about, until now, can be made possible through the optimum usage of technology to gain a deeper consumer understanding, reinforced by data, analytics, and AI.

Consumers are showing a higher affinity towards technology brands like Google, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook - even in matters of finance. These brands are usually rated higher than financial service providers on parameters of quality, convenience, and the simplification of jargons – something that financial marketers need to adapt to, quickly.

Data collection in the financial industry, has so far, been from the regulatory and transactional aspect. Now, however, the need is to collect data that can provide beneficial insights. Financial marketers can utilise data to gain insights that can help them offer personalised services and communication, along with the proactive recommendation of products. Tech giants like Amazon and Google have an enormous amount to teach, in this aspect.

Data regarding the spending habits, channel behaviour, product portfolio, various touchpoints, and interactions, including social media and more, can be pooled in to create a rich customer profile. This can be analysed to gain deep insights and drive product recommendations, besides enabling the prevention of fraud, biometric dynamic security, spending analysis and alerts, credit score analysis, and customised solutions, all of which can help enhance the experience for consumers.

Insights derived from data can also be leveraged to create real life-stage based personalised services and communication. This can involve upselling, cross-selling, or even special services, based on the future potential spotted by predictive modelling. For instance, by knowing which clients among various segments have a higher propensity to opt for a loan in the next 3 years, banks can offer them the loan early, along with various add-on services. Information like peer benchmarked saving rates or investment allocation that can act as a nudge towards better financial health, can be delivered through the financial service app. As a result, customers will truly feel “cared for”, and continue to engage with the financial brand.

Real-time advice at critical decision-making stages, backed by insights from past consumer behaviour and forecasts, will become extremely important in the years to come. Predictive analytics can help identify the customers who are likely to opt-out from the business, and marketing campaigns with a focus on retention can be micro-targetted at these customers. Furthermore, all of these can be executed at the hyper-local level.

Past behavioural analysis and an accurate understanding of the current and future needs can open a new avenue of communication and business. Personalised proactive advice, especially on the on-set of financial stress triggers, through the preferred channel, can improve the brand connect. Apart from educating, explaining, and making finance simple, from the beginning of the consumer journey, AI-backed personalised news feeds to regular investors can be another value-add. Marketers can leverage the brand’s expertise in this regard, to bring about a reduction of anxiety, along with offering emotional connect.

Financial marketing needs to work in tandem with consumer experiences, both online and offline, to create an omnichannel experience that makes a difference. Insights and data can benefit only when marketers can capitalise on them, to make a brand connect at all levels with the consumers.

(The author is NeoNiche director - experiential deliveries. The views expressed are his own and may not subscribe to them.)

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