1. Data and money does not equal progress.
Of course, it’s not a bad start by any means. But how you combine and make use of these resources can make or break your digital sales efforts. Customer data is a given, especially at incumbent banks. They track people’s every financial move, from making payments through taking out loans to putting money away in savings. How much do they really know about their customers, though? And more importantly, how much effort are they willing to put into getting to know the people behind the transactions? In short, mass promotion won’t cut it anymore. Nor will throwing money at campaigns and campaign tools without mapping out customers’ needs first.
2. The secret of selling more is not selling at all.
Let’s face it: customers, banking or not, don’t want to be sold to. It’s high time banks made their peace with this fact and went from selling to customers to creating banking experiences that make them want to buy. In other words, they must focus on building loyalty and emotional trust and find opportunities to offer new products in that context. Unless you understand your customers, including what situation they are in, what challenges they’re facing and what their goals are in life, any selling you do is hard selling and a surefire way to alienate your audience.
3. Challengers are now the challengees; incumbents are challenging themselves.
Just a few years ago, neobanks were synonymous with disruption. Today, not so much. Next-gen disruptors are popping up like mushrooms, and traditional players are also starting to catch up with the cool kids. And some of them are making great strides on their digital paths, spinning off digital arms that leverage funds, regulatory compliance and a wealth of industry insights courtesy of their parent companies.
Intense competition puts industry players, the disruptors and the disrupted alike, under constant pressure. Not to mention at the mercy of digitally empowered customers and their unwillingness to put up with processes that aren’t as smooth, fast or smart as they would expect. Which isn’t an enviable position to be in, considering that all it takes for anyone to switch banks and enjoy a more frictionless experience is to download an app or open a new tab in their browser.
4. Personalisation must be personalised.
Real talk: personalised messages can be creepy. Or a selling point, depending on who you ask. People’s sentiments about getting offers based on their location or spending history vary across age groups and lifestyles, so it’s key to collect and analyse customer feedback and fine-tune algorithms accordingly. Especially because tailored product offers are not the only way to create value for banking customers. Recognising if someone prefers in-app or in-person banking, for example, can be used to enhance their experience at every touchpoint, while making them feel seen instead of being spied on.
5. Your best bet to make digital sales work? Humans.
Banks are built to sell. Always have been. At most long-standing financial institutions, the number of people involved in marketing, sales and after-sales operations can be as high as 40%. Granted, rapid digitalisation has rewritten the playbook, but branch networks are still here – and still play into incumbents’ hands. Year after year, surveys show that the satisfaction levels of customers who go to the bank instead of signing in to it are consistently higher than those of their digital-first counterparts.
So how to replicate this experience in the digital space and ensure continuity for customers?
First, ditch legacy processes. Digitalisation strategies often fall through, because there’s too much emphasis on dressing up customer-facing applications without overhauling age-old, siloed back-office operations. Second, don’t underestimate the power of human connection. A fancy UI won’t help users if things go awry. Empowering both customers and employees with technology that allows seamless interaction between physical and digital channels might just be incumbents’ winning ticket in the digital race.