By : Glenn A. Tom
April 26, 2018 08:00 AM
When it comes to attracting new customers to banks and retaining existing users, it is no longer enough for banks to compete solely on product. With more competition than ever from upstart challenger banks and fintech providers, being able to stand out from the crowd is more important than ever.
In this environment, banks must be able to convince customers that they understand their individual needs and desires, and clearly express how the company will meet them. This means that when it comes to sales and marketing efforts, they need to change traditional approaches to focus on building relationships – rather than simply promoting products.
Research conducted by Forrester Research and Pega found that banks are acutely aware of the need to change their sales approaches in the coming years. The research revealed that 79 percent of salespeople and supporting professionals at financial services firms agree they will need to move away from product-based selling, and move towards strategies that prioritize creating relationships.
Some 58 percent of respondents also agreed that offers must become more personalized towards customers' individual needs and financial goals. There is also a recognition that selling techniques will have to have an expanded reach, with two-thirds (66 percent) expecting to take a more omni-channel approach.
Elsewhere, there's widespread agreement of the importance of understanding customers' personal situations to better tailor their messaging and interactions with consumers. The Financial Brand highlighted research conducted earlier this year that found 80 percent of large banks and 88 percent of community banks said it is extremely or very important to have access to this information.
So how can banks translate this information into a successful relationship-based sales strategy? The key for banks will be being able to integrate the relevant data - including personal details, activities and interaction records - into a single sales tool that can give them complete visibility into the customers. Seven out of ten professionals surveyed by Pega and Forrester Research highlighted this as an essential step if moving to relationship-based approaches is to succeed.
Meanwhile, 45 percent stated they would be looking to implement solutions that will help create customer and product-specific onboarding processes, while the same number are looking to create a unified customer relationship management (CRM) platform that covers sales, marketing and services.
Ron Wellman, global director and industry principal, CRM for financial services, at Pegasystems, explained: "By implementing a unified CRM platform powered with AI, banks can satisfy customer demands by intelligently guiding sales teams to deliver the most relevant recommendations to clients. This increases client satisfaction and positions banks as trusted advisors for the long term."
All strong relationships are built on trust, so a key part of this will be ensuring that banks are able to develop this throughout all their interactions with consumers.
For example, in an age where customers expect greater levels of personalization than ever before, banks will have to demonstrate that they respect their users' preference. Asking individuals about their privacy and contact wishes, and then ensuring that these requests are respected at all times, is essential in building and maintaining a high level of trust.
Whether it is an online interaction, an in-person conversation with a teller, or using a self-service kiosk, the experience customers receive must feel tailored and focused to them. Achieving this means strong use of data and clear visibility into every aspect of a customer's profile.