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How Banking Marketers Can Deliver the Total Customer Experience

Each year, Merkle refines and updates its Marketing Imperatives; they are a distillation of our learning, vision, and experience with clients from many different verticals. The 2020 Imperatives are truly forward-looking and encourage a fresh look at how you should plan and execute your marketing with an emphasis on personalization – this is especially true for those in Banking and Financial Services.  

Our 2020 Imperatives encompass the following:

1. Deliver the total customer experience – Marketing now is responsible for growth and must stretch its purview to include ownership of customer data and the overall customer experience. This can’t be achieved without a clear connection to all customer-related business functions: sales, service, finance, logistics, product, channel, etc.

2. Take ownership of identity – Brands have a common vision of right time, place, person, and message delivered in real-time across the customer journey, while also providing more effective, hyper-personalized service and commerce. This vision is only as good as a company’s ability to know who it is really talking to at every touchpoint.

3. Enable agility through strategic sourcing – Calibrating the marketing resource mix is no longer solely about cost. It is also driven by more strategic priorities, including agility, accountability, and innovation. This is not an either/or decision between bringing everything in-house or relying exclusively on external partners.

Where to Start

While all three imperatives have big implications for marketers in banking, achieving the first imperative requires a new mindset, approach, and vision. It requires buy-in from across the organization to execute, and it requires marketers to take ownership of two key dimensions: data and customer experience.

Today, many banks’ data live in disparate silos driven by product, legacy systems, and third-party relationships. The timeliness with which marketing can access that data has traditionally varied – with some data not accessible at all for marketing purposes. If marketers want to own customer experience, they must understand the full customer and all interactions with the brand. Connected data can create a 360-degree view of the customer that informs things like decision-making across channel, site and mobile experience, next-best-offer, and much more.

For example, many banks’ payment card transaction data is out of marketing’s reach due to third-party relationships. Think about how that rich data can give unique insights into customer needs and could be used to understand and communicate with customers.  Models and AI-driven analysis could identify certain purchases that indicate future needs like a wedding, home improvement, or college tuition – all of which could drive needs-based dialogues and product offers for personal loans, home equity line of credit, or student loans. 

While bringing together disparate data sources into a centralized database is not a small undertaking, marketers needs to drive the conversation and initiative by building the business case and advocating across the organization.

How it’s Done

Access to the data and the ability to activate against it in a seamless, coherent way are two different things. In banking, marketing has traditionally owned the outbound customer contact, while servicing and the branch network owned face-to-face interactions. While some coordination has existed, this has often led to a disconnect in how customers experience the brand. We are suggesting a paradigm shift that gives marketing ownership of the total customer experience. Although branches and operational teams may live outside of marketing, marketers cannot afford to abdicate responsibility for key points of customer interaction. Offers, messaging, and priorities need to be aligned whether the customer clicks, calls, or visits a branch. Customer journey planning should consider how a customer can move from offline to online to open a new product. Branch staffs should be aligned with marketing offers and messaging and support next-best-actions as defined for each customer. 

Achieving this is not simple and it takes commitment – not only from marketing leadership, but also from the CEO and the rest of the C-suite. It means a new focus on customer lifetime value instead of siloed product-level P&Ls. As we share in the Imperatives implementing this change means…

“…breaking down the internal silos…and prioritizing the experience of the customer across your different internal teams. It means aligning corporate goals and business objectives through a new set of key performance indicators that are based on building deeper customer relationships.”

We have numerous banking clients on this transformational journey – and we see differing approaches to how customer centricity gets implemented. Approaches include:

  • Naming experience officers and managers who advocate across the bank
  • Reorganizing teams around the customer life cycle rather than products
  • Reorienting results reporting to drive a common understanding of progress against KPIs like customer lifetime value. 

Regardless of how and organization pursues driving customer centricity, because of Marketing’s unique skillset in storytelling and its understanding of the customer, Marketing must be the leader in a bank-wide conversation about how to build a cohesive customer experience across all bank touchpoints.

Want to learn more? Download Merkle’s 2020 Marketing Imperatives here.