For as long as there have been banks, there have been bank customers expecting banks to know all about them the moment they call, log in, or walk through the door. The good news is that we are getting ever closer to this expectation becoming a reality.

For the past five years, CGI has surveyed retail bank customers to identify what they want from banks, how they view alternative providers, and opportunities for further bank investment to provide banks with a view into the year ahead. Our latest financial consumer survey continues this effort and uncovers an interesting truth; consumers are less interested in free rewards and are not only interested in value-add services, but also increasingly willing to pay for them. This is great news for banks looking to generate sustainable revenue streams. The question is how to let customers know about these value-add services once they are developed.

The data challenge

For the longest time, one of the biggest challenges has been data. What data does the bank already have? What data is the customer willing to share? How fast can the bank access the data? And, the ultimate question; is the data accurate? In the past, data availability and access has been spotty, and context was frequently a challenge. The bank would need to know which systems to access for the data, identify the context of the customer interaction (For example, does the customer want a mortgage? A checking account?), aggregate the data and hope the data is accurate.

This is why so much of the marketing to retail bank customers has focused on three of the simplest data points: where you live, your anticipated income based on where you live and which product the bank thinks you need today. It is important to note that only one of these data points (what they want to sell you) comes from a bank system.

Depending on where you are in the world, these marketing offers can be delivered via mail, email, or an online ad and the outcome is often the same; they are ignored because they are not relevant to the customer’s need. At the same time, these offers, when presented without the proper context, can appear intrusive instead of helpful. Hardly the way to scale or differentiate in today’s digital world, especially as non-bank providers become more sophisticated.

The data opportunity

The good news is that advances in artificial intelligence (AI), including chat bots, machine learning and predictive analytics make it easier for retail banks to reach and serve customers in the right way and at the right time through offers that are relevant to each customer’s unique needs and wants. At the same time, customers are warming to the use of AI to speed up and personalize interactions, as well as to better understand them and strengthen their relationship with the bank.

This means that leading banks can create more in-depth profiles of their customers using internal and external data sources, compare customers against their peers to identify potential service gaps, deliver targeted offers driven by behavioral data and potential life stage information, and automate the analysis and delivery of this information to improve customer outcomes.

What the customer experiences is a more efficient way of dealing with the bank:

  • Looking for a mortgage? We can send today’s rates directly to your phone, along with the number you can call to get your application started.
  • Looking for an ATM? Share your location, and we can give you directions.
  • Want personalized advice on managing your spend or saving for retirement? Answer a few basic questions, and we can schedule an appointment with a bank representative at the branch or via phone.
  • Looking for something else? Based on your customer profile and activity, we think you should consider this product. Click here for more information via phone, email or text.

What the bank experiences is equally powerful; a more efficient and cost-effective way of managing customer requests and expectations.

The next steps

The next step is to develop an AI strategy and, for many banks, this is a first step. What services do you want to automate? Are there customer service, and even compliance efficiencies, to gain through AI? What tools do you want to build into your channels, including the branch, to improve customer service while also driving revenue?

After a strategy is developed, banks can start executing it against specific objectives such as reducing wait times, streamlining branch interactions and shortening sales cycles. In time, banks might even reach the customer nirvana of knowing exactly what customers want the moment they call, log in or walk through the door.

CGI is working with leading banks worldwide on AI initiatives. To learn more about our work and solutions, feel free to contact me. Also, request a free copy of our latest financial consumer survey.

About this author

Picture of Andy Schmidt

Andy Schmidt

Vice-President, Retail Banking

Andy Schmidt is a former banker and industry analyst who currently helps drive CGI’s strategy across our financial services vertical. Andy has more than 25 years of financial services experience as a banker at Bank of America, a consultant at Ernst & Young and an ...

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