The new calendar year is upon us, but for many, this is the calm before the storm of a new financial year rapidly approaching. One of my key focus areas, the financial services industry, is in full planning mode.
However, for many larger-scale institutions alongside finance, we're in a time when innovation is moving at lightning speed and customer expectations are higher than ever. Marketing teams do not exist in a vacuum, and instead build on the foundations of the business.
From customer expectations to AI, today I'm looking at key areas where in-house teams need to focus their time ahead of the new financial year, and where advanced planning and carefully considered strategy are essential to future marketing success.
Exceeding Consumer Expectations
Customers are continuing to want more from their financial institutions and service providers, including an emphasis on personalised services.
As competition rises, so does the expectation - when it comes to banking, half of all consumers would like personalised banking advice based on their personal circumstances according to the 2019 Accenture Global Financial Services Consumer Study.
Alongside this, findings included that customers would like a breakdown of their spending habits and advice on how to handle their money. Over half of all the participants in the study were interested in insurance premiums tied to their behaviour, such as having a good driving record.
It's not just finance though - in all consumer-facing service providers, the expectation is rising. In this piece from Today's Conveyancer, Yvonne Hirons, CEO of Perfect Portal, stated: “If we look at how price transparency and technology will attract new business, clients are looking to find and book legal services outside of business hours, especially evenings and weekends.
“The first thing the home movers will do after finding a property is look online for a conveyancing quote. If a firm has not got the cost and service information readily available on their website then the potential client will move on to the next firms website who can provide that information. In fact, our research shows that in the recent years 59% of home movers are searching online for conveyancing quotes as instant price transparency is important to them.”
Surpassing the Competition – Service is king!
As mentioned in the above point, customers are wanting a more personalised service. So what does this look like?
Alongside transparency and speed, consumers are also looking for a more automated service with easier access to their services. Institutions that can provide all of these will dominate their share of the market.
The battle for customer loyalty is won and lost on the field of service. So much of what was once considered an ‘extra’ is now viewed as a basic by the modern customer and there are few truly unique product features and / or benefits. Therefore, service level, speed of response and simplicity of communication are often the differentiators in the eyes of most customers.
Keeping Up with Technology
Your platforms and tooling across the business can play a major role in how your marketing and communications strategy plays out, from reporting to efficiency of work.
In order to grow and to update their technologies, there's no other way around it - companies must be willing to spend the money. What this looks like specifically for particular businesses will vary by sector.
For example, financial service companies should continue to invest in technology likes robotics and other workflow automation tools in order to increase their efficiency, and reduce costs associated with operational, marketing and digital. Companies must also modernise their technology platforms and data storage in order to allow things like AI-supported digital customer support assistants.
In order to provide a more efficient, customer-friendly experience across mobile, internet and physical locations, less is more. Larger institutions have often grown organically, and are left with hundreds of tools and 'bolt-ons' over time. Smart businesses at this point will be consolidating their platforms to ensure smoother growth in future and maintain agility.
It's finally happening - we're considering AI to be a 'core business tenet'. But not for no reason! A study from Deloitte found that major financial service firms that have incorporated AI are achieving a 19% growth in revenue. Not only this, but 30% of the FS companies that they describe as ‘frontrunners’ are more adept at using AI, meaning that they increase revenue faster than their competitors.
AI is now a fully functional automated member of your team, and if implemented correctly, can save time and resource whilst growing revenue. Like everything else on this list, initial investment is required, but the sheer demonstrable impact on the bottom line - and customer happiness - speaks for itself.
Deloitte’s study also discovered that 45% of frontrunner firms invest 5 million dollars in AI initiatives. That’s 3 times the rate of late adopters. 25% of frontrunner firms spend 10 million dollars or more on AI. 70% of these firms plan to increase their spending by 10% during the next fiscal year.
AI is absolutely the future when it comes to business and financial services, and companies that want to thrive need to incorporate it as soon as possible.
Last, but by no means least: Organising Big Data
We love to hate it, but it's the truth. Data is the biggest sticking point for so many institutions, but it's also the biggest priority. From marketing, to customer excellence, to reporting and communication internally - none of it's impossible or could prove completely ineffective unless your data is in good order!
The different types of data entering the systems is one of the biggest challenges facing companies. A study by EMC has shown that there will be 44 zettabytes of digital data by 2022. That’s 44 trillion gigabytes.
A lot of data is necessary but can also be a challenge for bigger businesses and institutions. New data is being generated by a lot of different sources, making managing it all more difficult. The new data is both structured and unstructured, and some older systems can’t handle the volume of data coming in.
The challenge for companies is to sort through all their data and learn what is useful and what isn’t.
Data is often palmed off as a 'tech' issue, but the truth is there are hundreds of data & development businesses that can walk you through what can sometimes feel like an unachievable goal. If you'd like to learn some more about recommended agencies, get in touch here.