Amanda Pitcher

2017 was a monumental year for the digital technology and transformation landscape. As expected, financial services and the broader business sectors have begun to realise the importance of all the “Xes” – CX, UX, and relative newcomer, iX.

But what does 2018 hold for financial services and it’s use of marketing technology and all things digital?  Read on to find out more…

1: Digital channels are increasingly your most valuable asset

The importance of digital channels for financial services was highlighted in Yell’s 2017 State of Financial Marketing survey which found – in a survey of 1,500 consumers via our partner YouGov – the three top actions consumers take when making a financial services purchase are: visiting a specific company’s website or app, searching online based on their needs, and searching online based on a product or service.

Consumers are doing more and more of their daily financial transactions online, especially via smartphone – from banking, to making payments at the point-of-sale in shops and service providers, to investing via apps such as Acorns or Brickx, and using money management tools like Pocketbook.

PWC’s 2017 Digital Banking Consumer Survey indicated that 46% of banking customers use digital channels only to interact with their bank accounts and providers.

What does this mean for financial services providers?

If your digital channels aren’t up to scratch, customers are going to start switching to those who provide a better experience. Increasingly, consumers simply won’t want to talk to you – on the phone, or in person. If they can’t do everything they need and want to do online, they’ll find someone who can deliver the experience that meets their needs.

To compete, your website and digital assets need to reflect best practice UX for your audience needs. If you have an out-of-date website with a low Google Quality Score because of slow load times, non-responsive sites, poor keyword association and meta descriptions – when consumers Google to find a new provider, they’re not going to find you. Your competitors with higher quality scores and better SEO are going to beat you to them.

So what are the trends that are going to help you not only catch-up, but get ahead of your competitors in the minds of your customers?

2. Personalisation, personalisation, personalisation

For fin service providers in the past, a key factor for success was location, location, location – be where your customers are. The 2018 version of location is personalisation. Just as one-size-fits-all rarely fits anyone properly, a one-experience-for-all doesn’t suit any customer – especially now.

Your customers want to set the pace

From the moment a potential customer starts interacting with your brand, they will want to be able to determine what, how, where, and when they engage and interact with you. Some will want to quickly understand the benefits of your products and services, and how that’s relevant to them – infographics, videos, short text summaries. Others will want to read every piece of information possible, in detail, on their smartphone, their tablet, laptop or desktop.

Your existing customers already want a more personalised experience – well beyond going paper-free for their statements. They want to be able to decide how often they receive a statement, or are notified they have a statement – and how they are notified about their statement. Maybe it’s an email, maybe a text, or an app notification. Either way – they want to decide the channels they interact with you through, and how frequently they interact with your business.

Proper personalisation

Consumers don’t want fake personalization – they know when you don’t know them – and they know when you’re faking it. What does this mean? Let the consumer personalise – if you don’t have the data that allows you to identify what they need and want, ask them.

3. IoT becomes an even bigger deal

Increasingly the electrical “things” we buy are connected – phones, computers, watches, coffee makers, fridges, cars, headphones, lamps – you name it. This Internet of Things isn’t news in itself, but we predict in 2018 it’s going to start becoming truly tangible in fin services and for your customers. Forrester’s Predictions 2018: IoT Moves from Experimentation to Business Scale predicts the IoT will change the way businesses – including financial services – will interact with their customers.

Moving beyond the app, and thinking of ways they can connect via intelligent agents like Alexa and Google Assistant, the IoT will define what customer experience looks like in 2018. Instead of logging into an account a user may simply ask their phone for their account balance, to transfer a certain amount of money to a friend, or to pay a bill.

Beyond CX

Gartner estimates that in 2017, there were more than 8.4 million “Things” on the internet – up 30% from 2016, a massive increase in just one year. IoT is just the start, what will we have once all these things are connected and people are interacting with them around the world – data. BIG data. Which leads us on to the next trend…

4: Analytics everywhere for every Thing

With all this data being received via the IoT, analytics platforms will need to quickly evolve to process and produce insights into the data, better shaping those experiences and interactions. The implications for financial services is that legacy systems and platforms will simply have to be upgraded – or you won’t keep up. In fact, if you’re running an outdated CRM system, database, or aren’t already capturing detailed data about your consumers – what they’re doing, where, how, and why – you’ve got some catching up to do.

Understand and measure

How? This is the domain of some very smart people – data scientists who have developed platforms and systems to take huge amounts of data and convert it into meaningful insights as to how to improve your business. These platforms have helped hospitals create better, safer systems and processes, design new smart superhighways, and retailers save big time and money.

Truck manufacturer Navistar used the IoT to look at the way its 180,000-strong fleet of trucks gets refueled, when and why goods have spoiled in transit and more. This data allowed them to reduce the cost of managing its fleet from 15cents/litre to just 3 cents/litre.

5: AI will be everywhere

But you won’t even know it … you will need to use it in your business, though! Beyond chatbots, Siri and Alexa – AI will start being used to surprise and delight customers, and it will be so seamlessly integrated that customers may not know whether interactions are with real humans or generated by AI.

What will this look like for financial services? Faster and smarter everything – email, content generation, application approval processes and waiting times, interest rates, risk ratings, and the list will go on. Actually, PWC has made a list of 51 predictions for the levels AI will reach in 2018.

The future is happening now…

Digital technology is transforming at a blinding pace, if your business’s digital channels are already out-of-date in terms of technology or functionality – you will need to catch up, rapidly. To remain competitive the experience you offer across your digital presence needs to compete not with your industry peers, but with the brands and businesses offering the best experiences – Google, Amazon, and Uber. 2018 won’t be the year to rely on what’s worked in the past, you need to engage with the future now.

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