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How to create a connected customer experience in financial services

21 Mar, 2022

Your customers want to feel valued. To believe that the services you’re providing are personal to them. Achieve this and they’re likely to buy more and stay with you longer. But for many financial service organisations, it’s a challenge, because you need to know your customer. In detail. And so you need well managed, well organised, easily accessible, centralised data, connected across operational systems built with customer experience in mind.

So then, how do you achieve this, what is the benefit to your organisation, and most importantly, why is investing in technology that enhances the customer experience of benefit to them?

“Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.”

Walt Disney

The platform evolution

If you think about many of today’s applications, they’re less a product and more a platform. A platform on which you can deliver a wider range of customer centric technology.

Out of the box platforms, such as Microsoft Dynamics 365, are not suitable as a standalone solution. But they become so when used in context of ease of linking with other systems. And the simplicity at which other applications can slot in as part of adding new ways of improving the customer experience. One that scales as customer needs change.

The evolution from static monolithic systems to an agile cloud-based platform also solves other nagging issues many financial service organisations suffer:

  • Reduces bottlenecks in core banking systems
  • Removes complex coding that slows simple changes
  • Dampens risk of expensive outages
  • Spreads system knowledge across more people
  • Allows core business logic to be reused

It should be stated that changes to a bank’s core system is not a trivial exercise. Rather, it’s akin to replacing the foundation of a building, and is therefore not always responsive to a straightforward revenue-based business case.

Traditional core banking replacements have tried to make their case by adding in cost-saving elements through process automation and clean-ups. But it has proven difficult to pay for a core banking transformation through efficiencies alone. And so the case for a platform led core banking system must also base itself on understanding, and mapping to, positive changes made in the customer journey, and the increased revenue return as a result.

How to create a connected customer view

If you speak to five people at a bank, and they don’t seem joined up, then the bank doesn’t seem joined up. And that’s a problem today’s platforms are attempting to solve. Providing the same view of the customer, and ability to address their needs and experiences, in a consistent way.

This said, be mindful of how much information you provide to people in the organisation. It’s less about stitching together the most amount of knowledge in the shortest time to employees because people can only use so much. Instead, filter through the noise. And deliver relevancy to individuals engaging with customers.

One place to start here is by understanding, and then grouping, your customers into areas of interest. Then bring this insight together in a relevant context and deliver it to customers on a channel of their choice. This requires a consistency of data from which to build out insight to aid in the understanding of each customers need.

This data and insight then directs decision making on the tools and automation process and systems you need to deliver what the customer is looking for. And then proactively and reactively offer customers the best service. As Apples Steve Jobs once said: “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology.”

Yet, not all customers are the same. And so you will need a range of pathways depending on who the customer is and how they engage with you.

The challenge of connecting the customer view

Often, the challenge is history. Some banks can trace their beginnings back hundreds of years. And the infrastructure used to run operations also has a legacy feel. In banking, insurance, and capital markets, this often leads to a technical debt that needs repaying.

That’s not to say transitions from legacy systems to something customer centric isn’t possible. It is. And it’s often for this reason organisations migrate core systems to the Power Platform. A place where the world of business users merges closer with that of professional developers. Speeding up transition from technical debt through to modern prototyping.

If you’re a customer service focused organisation, you may start your journey in an engagement system, because that’s going to give you the fastest return. Whereas if you’re a FinTech, you may start in the core platform, and the system of record. The journey is different for everyone.

The platform defines the experience

There are three areas of platform focus that must live together if you are to deliver a connected customer experience:

The first is that most banks will have a core banking platform, or insurance companies will have a core underwriting platform, providing their system of record. These should be transactionally focused. They should be lightweight. Highly reliable. And they should provide the master record of customer’s transactional necessities.

The second is a system of insight, which understands customer transaction information and provides, in collaboration with the customer, data, meaning the profile of that individual and a set of relevant conversations.

And the third system, which is perhaps the most important, is the system of engagement. From which you take historical customer touch points and surface this to via colleagues.

Building new engagement systems from scratch would be costly. And so vendors such as Microsoft, have focused on developing systems of engagement that are flexible. Flexible enough to deliver an optimal and consistent experience across mobile web scenarios into branches through tablet applications onto contact centres, first party telephony video advisory, SMS, teams chat, WhatsApp, and Twitter.

Connecting engagement platforms with your systems of insight underpins your services, because it provides a way of utilising large quantities of engagement data in a meaningful way.

If you think you need a banking platform, you don’t

Microsoft doesn’t have a core banking platform. Or a core underwriting platform. In theory, this should mean you wouldn’t use Microsoft technology to run your bank, insurance company, or other financial organisation. But this is because Microsoft has taken a different direction to value. It has removed any constriction on innovation.

The Dynamics platform, built on the Data Verse, is entirely flexible. Designed so you can embrace new innovation without impacting your core day-to-day operations. You gain tools to deliver the best customer experience, such as automated onboarding to digital wallets, without having to go through considerable cost, and pain, to benefit.

It is also built to connect the customer, product, and service journey. Solving one of financial services most difficult challenges in mapping customer journeys, particularly where customers have more than one product.

True customer personalisation happens when data connects across applications and systems. And this is difficult to achieve on siloed legacy systems. Systems difficult to use, and painful to update. But the rewards of connecting customer touch points are worth it; faster time to market, rapid set up of new ecosystems, reduced cost of change, ease of upselling, and so on. And by connecting systems and bringing data together, you gain the insight needed to create personal engagement, from apps to emails, and from products to services.

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