2018 will be the year of customer intimacy, among other innovations in financial services. Specifically, this coming year will be defined by the mainstream leveraging of customer data to influence communication, sales and positively impact the customer experience. Here are a few major trends to keep a pulse on this year:
Data analytics in financial institutions have been around for some time, but 2018 will see a major expansion of data being directly used as a sales method. Specifically, financial institutions will utilize customer data to promote new products in a way that is tailored to the individual customer. In the example of a mortgage, financial institutions will utilize more personalized information to educate customers about loans based on their specific financial circumstances, and use customer data to provide a roadmap and recommendation for how to proceed. Financial institutions will be able to provide more personalized solutions in 2018 than ever before, and enterprises that communicate intimate customer knowledge will gain a competitive edge with high consumer expectations.
Seamless customer journey
Financial institutions will seek to improve customer journey mapping and put it as one of their top priorities in 2018. In an increasingly digital landscape, many financial institutions have utilized technology to cut expenditure and give the customer more autonomy. However, the various channels customers now use to interact with their financial institutions makes the customer journey increasingly complicated. Financial institutions that pay close attention to the customer journey will reap the benefits of a high-performing customer experience, which creates cohesion and fluidity among various channels. Data-driven, detail-oriented touchpoint analysis will help perfect every single customer touchpoint and create brand advocates for the financial institutions that invest time and care.
Additionally, credit unions and banks will work to consolidate customer touchpoints and provide a more cohesive and rewarding customer experience. The universal banker will be key in increasing customer satisfaction by providing a wide variety of capabilities from a single representative. 2018 will be the year that the universal banker truly manifests and becomes an industry standard.
A multi-channel experience
More and more, digital touchpoints will serve as the primary identity for financial institutions. For a long time, branch interactions have been the most important touchpoint for customers. Now, more customers will define their financial institution’s value by the quality of its digital touchpoints, such as online and mobile. They will look for answers to their needs via mobile apps, expect high quality customer service in online chats or by phone and will expect to have sophisticated analytics and interfaces at their fingertips to help them manage their finances.
Comprehensive financial advising
In light of unification as a trend for 2018, consumers expect expanded competencies from their financial institutions. Particularly, Millennial consumers, who are developing personal finance habits with technology in mind, desire greater cohesion between their financial institution and their financial goals. Rather than perceiving retirement savings, personal budgets, financial institutions and educational expenses as separate entities, they want these interdependent elements to be analyzed and advised holistically through their financial institutions. Analytics will shape the financial advising experience. Customers will look to their financial institutions for recommendations and data-driven advice, but will also expect platforms on which they can self-regulate and inform their own financial goals.
Financial technology is rampant and highly valued by consumers in areas such as payment processing, personal finance and digital wallets, such as Venmo. In order to keep up with this new technology and maintain relevance and usefulness to consumers, 82% of financial institutions plan to actively pursue partnerships with Fintech companies, according to thefinancialbrand.com. Banks and credit unions will work to make their software compatible with Fintech software, and leverage Fintech as a low-cost way to provide ample value to customer needs. Customer experience research will tell financial institutions what their customers need (and lack), and this investigation will help prescribe appropriate partnerships to drive financial institutions forward.
Bitcoin’s debate of viability and regulation has gained headlines in recent weeks. However, blockchain, the framework behind Bitcoin’s basic functionality, is becoming a major player in 2018. Blockchain’s lack of centralized control and built-in transparency make it applicable for a wide variety of industries, especially financial services. Quicker trading; cheaper and more transparent exchanges; and streamlined, self-defined identification techniques are just a few of the ways blockchain will impact financial services in 2018.