Article | June 1, 2021
The axing of third-party cookies by Google and the other major browser companies will require a major readjustment by financial services organisations.
The decision, coming fully into force next year, will effectively choke off the data that has enabled personalisation, optimised website interactions and driven much internet advertising. It is no comfort that the browser companies have acted because of fears about infringement of privacy and data protection legislation such as the EU’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and the CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) in California.
The move will affect how UK financial services organisations interact with millions of people. More than three-quarters of Britons now use online banking and 14 million use digital-only banks, expecting a slick, light-touch interaction. So it appears that just as many people go digital, financial services organisations will no longer have access to information they need for personalisation, being unable to track where customers go on the internet after they have visited a bank’s website. All that data about individuals’ habits and preferences will be unavailable.
It seems catastrophic, but in reality, it is not. Financial organisations have a new opportunity to radically improve how they interact with web visitors and customers. AI-powered behavioural analytics offer far superior, real-time capabilities, using the data from the first-party cookies on their own website domains and where available, data from customers’ transaction histories.
The result is a solution that is faster, more accurate and responsive than conventional technology relying on cookie data owned and stored by third-party organisations. Instead of relying on such data for relatively rigid profiling and personalisation, behavioural analytics enables real-time interactions based on a more dynamic picture of how an individual’s requirements are changing.
The technology analyses all the browsing characteristics including time on site, speed of movement and page views, as well as more obvious features such as interest in specific products. Historical data added to the analysis includes what customers did on previous visits and the interval between those visits, establishing patterns where possible.
The flexible advantages of behavioural analytics hubs in financial services
Segmentation allows a bank to identify customers as soon as they arrive on its site, according to whether they are a new or existing customer. Their behaviour then indicates what they want. Knowing what customers are interested in is important. Customers visit financial services websites for a host of reasons – from seeking information, to opening accounts, exploring loans and mortgage offers, making or setting up new payments. They may also want advice about investments and savings, pensions or small business finance. Almost all of these requirements involve quite complex mental processes which financial organisations can influence while consumers are on their sites.
Collecting the data is not difficult – the skill is in making it actionable in an effective way, replicating the ability of a perceptive employee to read a customer’s state of mind. Banks can do this by setting up a behavioural analytics hub to understand what a customer’s behaviour means and how it can be optimised.
Using customised parameters, the hub will, for instance, trigger a screen notification that prompts the web visitor to fill in a form requesting an appointment. In the case of existing customers, the technology can correlate health insurance offers with spending on fitness, and, in general, savings and investment recommendations can be tailored to the client’s concerns or goals as revealed by their navigation of a bank’s website or mobile app.
Banks can set up analytics to see when consumers are behaving in a way that indicates they about to leave the website, allowing them to intervene with a notification that could include an offer. This provides a positive outcome and avoids the blanket use of offers that undermines profitability.
It is a more sophisticated and personalised approach that avoids annoying pop-ups or recommendations that fail to match individual preferences. As part of a single AI-powered segmentation platform, the technology enables banks to personalise marketing content in SMS messages and emails sent to consumers (who consent), which deliver far better results through precise targeting.
Solutions for last-mile interaction in the open banking era
The single platform approach also has another major advantage. It is much easier to implement and far more efficient and streamlined compared with separate solutions for different parts of the customer journey.
The benefits of using AI-powered segmentation solutions should be part of the financial sector’s broader strategy to transform its systems for the open banking era as we approach the end of third-party cookies. For established banks, the reality for some time has been that complexity of systems has undermined their ability to deliver a high-quality last mile. This they can now address without huge disruption or investment.
The alternative is for financial services organisations to become lost on an ocean of data, losing track of customers. Behavioural analytics will bring banks new insights into customers that surpass third-party cookie data, being actionable and accurate and in real time. To provide a streamlined and profitable experience for themselves and their millions of customers, banks must now employ the latest advances in AI-powered behavioural analytics.
Article | July 16, 2020
In this series, we share insights from our Citi Country Officers (CCOs) around the globe as they reflect on their experiences during COVID-19. CCOs are responsible for leading the entire Citi franchise in their country. They provide alignment and leadership to bring our global strategy to life in each of their jurisdictions. For us at Citi in Italy we prepared for the COVID pandemic in a number of different ways. First, we leveraged lessons learned from our colleagues in the countries that were hit before us, including China and Korea, even if their context was quite different from the European one.
Article | April 20, 2020
The economic scale of the SME market is substantial, contributing £2.0 trillion (52%) a year to the UK economy alone and growing. But for SMEs wanting to trade internationally, they’re met with highly complex infrastructure and a myriad of lenders, brokers, FIs, processes and systems in place that lack sufficient integration or none at all.
Article | May 27, 2021
There is a huge transformation underway in the financial services industry. Over the past year – as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic – clients have been forced to take on more of an active role in monitoring and planning for financial uncertainty. But the big change is that these clients have become much more emotionally invested in their organisations’ financial wellbeing. In a time where everything is digital first, it’s no surprise that many clients want to be able to search for answers themselves, escalate issues quickly and receive the support they need to better navigate the uncertain economic landscape, at speed.
Of course, as clients demand a smoother and more fulfilling experience, we’re seeing a shift in how financial services companies manage their business model for success in the long term. Whilst, stereotypically, the financial services industry has been considered ‘old school’, and in many cases still lags behind other industries in the digital transformation race, the pandemic is proof in point that relying on legacy systems is just not an option for the sector anymore.
Thriving during turbulent times
The good news is that many organisations in the sector are already rising to the challenge, adjusting their products and services to meet the needs of customers who might have been struggling through the pandemic themselves.
Siemens Financial, a division of Europe’s largest manufacturing company, for example, moved quickly to scale their service to meet surges in customer needs. The financial arm provides B2B financing solutions to a large client base covering both small businesses and large corporations. When the pandemic struck, while the company was quickly inundated with requests for support, they had the right mindset and tools already in place to keep things running smoothly.
At the onset of the pandemic, the organisation witnessed a 30 percent increase in customer support ticket volumes. Like with all other businesses operating in the service industry, the team were challenged with managing a huge influx in client requests, whilst maintaining their core offering of delivering a personal service to every client. Based on a data-driven decision, the team moved its entire operation online, within 48 hours. In doing so, they were able to respond to new tickets during the peak of the pandemic within just six to seven hours, plus decrease resolution time from 24 hours to little more than eight. What’s more, they quickly moved the entire team to a remote working set up.
Frictionless digital services are paramount to remaining resilient in the face of COVID-19. Of course, for all organisations, this means saying goodbye to those spreadsheets used to track customer data and instead, embracing custom built support solutions providing real-time insights to support businesses in making decisions, at speed.
Investing now, for a successful future
However, for organisations who have more traditionally operated off of old or outdated legacy systems, it can be hard for them to visualise what a more digital way of operating could look like in practice. As you think about the road to recovery, it might therefore be worth considering where to invest first for the best return. For example, according to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2021, 67 per cent of customers are willing to spend more at a company providing them with a good experience. Whilst it may feel like the thriving organisations are the ones investing lots of money into CX technology, it’s clear that investment - or lack thereof - is being felt by customers too.
We’ve reached the digital tipping point - where holding at the status quo will actually put companies further and further behind. It’s about equipping your employees with the right technology, at the right time. We saw that Siemens Financial could keep track of customer conversations remotely, with minimal disruption. This is because the flexible platform they used to keep track of the customer experience provided their service agents with a 360 view of all clients’ prior interactions with the team. For example, whether they’ve used WhatsApp, the phone, or email to communicate with the brand, for customer experience agents using an omnichannel platform, the conversation looks the same.