Is Contextual Personalization the ‘Secret Sauce’ your Bank is Missing?

Much of my focus centers on helping banks and telcos in the Middle East and Africa figure out how to better engage with their customers and provide relevant, timely digital services, through their mobile or web banking apps.

Banks recognize that in the post-Covid world, consumers will continue to demand even more smart digital services, and this is leading to accelerated discussions on how banks can enhance their digital channels.

I will share my insights on this digital acceleration and what it means for regional banks and telcos in a series of articles. This is the first article.

What benefits can banks and consumer expect to receive from personalization?

Let’s first answer the question – “What is personalization?”

I’ll tell you what it’s not – Personalization in financial services should not be primarily about selling. It has to be about providing service, information, and advice, often on a daily basis. Such interactions, as opposed to infrequent sales communications, form the crux of the customer’s banking experience.

Personalization strategy allows a bank to identify segments of users with distinct preferences or needs, then create ‘always-on’ experiences for them.

I like Accenture Interactive’s 4R framework to describe the key elements of personalization: Recognize; Remember; Recommend; (be) Relevant.

Imagine if with AI/ML technology, you could identify segments ‘dynamically’ and as real-time as possible.

For example, let’s say you are at a merchant and are about to pay for your purchases. Imagine if your banking app could recommend which of your cards you should use to get the maximum benefits (point rewards, cashback, discounts, etc.)

Or say you want to pay your bill at the bank branch. Using your bank debit card, you take a ticket from kiosk and wait in line to be helped. That debit swipe or your location at the branch alerts the bank system that you are a valuable customer who also uses the bank’s mobile banking app. So while you are waiting in line, you receive an SMS message or push notification with instructions on how to pay your bill using the mobile app.

Or the next time you get to travel, while waiting at the airport check-in desk, you receive a reminder that your credit card benefits cover lounge access or can avail a discounted travel insurance before you board the plane.

Personalization is the act of dynamically curating experiences for each individual and matching their context in a seamless manner across channels. This includes all interaction, such as marketing, shopping, and services experiences.

Personalization of experiences has proven to significantly increase revenuereduce operational costs, and enhance customer experience and loyalty. Market data from Accenture, BCG, Mckenzie, JD Power and many others reflects the positive impact that personalization delivers to organizations worldwide.

Whether you wish to digitize for value (revenue), digitize for cost (Operational enhancements), or digitize for better CX and loyalty, personalization is the key to achieving your goal, or the proverbial ‘secret sauce’ in digital banking.

In my future posts, I’ll cover the following topics:

What’s the game plan? How different financial service providers tackle personalization (the maturity curve).

Let’s get personal. Where do you begin with personalized engagement?

How do you serve up the right content at the right time? The role of AI/ML in personalization.

What about privacy? Does contextual personalization mean surrendering user privacy ?

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