Personalization strategies of winning organizations | Blend

Eight next steps financial leaders can take to accelerate their personalization efforts

Learn strategies shared by personalization winners.

How are organizations building the muscles they need to deliver on personalization? To find out, Blend commissioned Forrester Consulting to survey banking decision-makers across the country, asking them to evaluate their personalization efforts and those of their competitors. They found that financial institutions with mature personalization invested in many of the same strategies. Here are eight next steps financial leaders can take to accelerate their personalization efforts.

Build a holistic understanding of your customer

The most common and fundamental strategy shared among financial firms with mature personalization is creating a holistic view of the customer. The better view of a customer that can be created, the more personalized the journey and offerings for that customer will be. To do this effectively banks can leverage first and third-party data. It’s also important to take data out of the silos they exist in today that make it difficult to create a full picture of the customer. When data is actionable and accessible, it can be the foundation for more advanced personalization.

Ensure advice and recommendations deliver value

The Forrester study, “How banks can unlock quick wins and lasting benefits through smart personalizationfound that mature institutions leverage their strong foundation of data — which is based on consumers’ stated and inferred needs — to provide real value back to the customer. This value can be delivered in many ways, including helping the customer deal with immediate financial needs, optimizing short-term financing options, and ultimately, guiding them toward achievable long-term financial wellness, like reducing debt or increasing savings. For example, the financial institution could recommend a debt consolidation loan with a better rate or a specific product based on the consumer’s specific profile such as a bike loan in a college town.

Be there when customers need you by personalizing effectively across the customer lifecycle

Because mature firms focus on delivering personalization across the customer lifecycle, they can proactively plan and deliver contextually relevant experiences to customers at the moment they need them most. They can personalize the consumer experience when comparing or searching for new products or personalize when and how they reach out to customers. Mature firms capture the full value of personalization by moving beyond the tactic of personalizing for acquisition. They can reduce friction throughout the customer journey from prequalification and onboarding to servicing while helping the consumer feel supported and valued.

Be there where customers need you by personalizing effectively across all channels

As important as it is to be there when your customer needs you, it’s also important to meet them where they are — online or in-branch, on the phone or in their home office — in your communication. Mature institutions put a priority on delivering personalized experiences across online and offline customer touchpoints so customers feel consistently supported regardless of how engagement occurs.

Empower employees across the whole organization to deliver consistent and relevant value to customers

Highly mature firms also showed an aptitude for empowering employees to make use of the data and insights made available to provide a personalized customer experience. Beyond just improving a customer’s digital experience, employees can leverage customer insights to deliver personalization across channels and at key moments, demonstrating a strong understanding of the customer’s needs and underscoring the financial institution’s role as a trusted advisor.

Reduce friction across the lifecycle

Mature financial institutions focus on making things as easy as possible for their customers. Leveraging first- and third-party data sources to better understand what products their customers qualify for while streamlining applications helps reduce friction and frustration felt by customers. True success here occurs when financial institutions go beyond providing targeted recommendations and advice delivered in the moment and channel that customers choose — the next evolution builds on this foundation by making it easier for customers to make smart financial decisions at each step. 

Expand personalization across the full scope of products

Above, we’ve highlighted the importance of personalization across customer lifecycle phases as well as across channels, but it’s equally important to personalize across products. To meet emerging customer needs, financial leaders can aim to offer products that fit those needs and organize them in a centralized and coherent way. Examples could include wedding loans or rental deposit loans in a high cost of living area. When successful, customers of more mature firms receive consistent value and experiences regardless of the business unit they engage with.  

Be proactive in leveraging your understanding of customers

Ultimately, the mark of very mature organizations was a desire to be proactive in their approach to meeting customer needs. As technology makes it easier to implement across products and verticals, basic personalization strategies will become essentially table-stakes to the competitive institutions. Those that want to differentiate themselves from their competition can do so through increasingly more advanced applications of personalization, with an emphasis on anticipatory service.