Riding on surging ambitions, customer behaviour and access to technology, banking has become a service by escaping the confines of locations & physical infrastructure.
By Neeraj Sinha
In this new age, customisation isn’t just another box to tick but the very key to engagement with the end user. Like all other services, with this new age of personalisation and enhancement in platforms, banking might fast become a commoditised service.
Welcome to the world of hyper-connectivity and hyper-personalization. Welcome to the World of Smart Banking! A world where data is emerging as the new oil, and attention as the new gold. The new-age banking has been at the crossroads of these extremes. Banking – traditionally considered a privilege and being accessible to a few – has, in time, expanded its realm of dominance and should now be a privilege of all and accessible online.
Riding on surging ambitions, customer behaviour and access to technology, banking has become a service by escaping the confines of locations & physical infrastructure to evolve as an ‘always on’ solution available at one’s mobile phone screen. At the same time, technology empowering businesses and services to be accessible online, has accelerated adoption of digital financial transactions, investments and payments. This has further led to the humble bank account becoming the port of sustained call – thereby offering multifaceted usage to serve diverse financial objectives both in the physical and digital realms.
Considering all this can be traced back to the previous decade, is a testament that the user behaviour is fairly nascent and demands handholding up the steep learning curve. In doing so, customisation or personalisation serves as key leveller. At the onset, personalisation or customisation means offering relevant options at the fingertips of the users.
Imagine a five-star hotel’s restaurant – where the frequent visitors are greeted with their preferred salutation, served their favourite starters or given recommendations based on what they have been ordering during their previous visits, etc. This culture of personalisation has always been associated with premium services, which banking ought to be in an otherwise ‘one size fits all’ world.
In doing so, technology has emerged as a great enabler. In the past few years, customer-facing industries such as banking have strengthened their technology prowess to provide hyper-personalised services – regarded as many as uber customisation.
Banks, owing to their importance, have already got access to real-time behavioural customer data from online and offline purchases, website sessions, engagements, and interactions via kiosks, email, and mobile applications. Over the years, banks have invested heavily in newer technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) to improve customer services. Today’s AI and machine learning capabilities automatically create self-learning models – efficiently and in real-time – so that customers get the simplest possible contextual experience with each interaction. By understanding the individual needs of consumers, banks can create experiences that are more compelling and interesting.
Shifting the mind-set from product-push to personalized notifications supported needs can improve customer satisfaction and drastically increase engagement. But the same is also a tightrope walk when it comes to asking for attention vs. infringing on privacy. The experience of hyper personalisation is usually designed to improve process efficiency by predicting, suggesting and constantly learning from user habits and preferences. At the same time, it means not pushing a barrage of information to further confuse or impair decision making at the user’s end. Sample this, if one is a credit card customer, the relevant options around the present solution (pay the dues, redeem rewards, block or report the card, request limit enhancement, etc.) has to be at the top of one’s home screen. At the same time, other products can too be added but in an order that suits the behaviour or trend of either the customer or the segment comprising of a collection of similar users. In doing so, the other layer is security and privacy – which in a data led world are essential to cultivate trust and respect in an otherwise bits and bytes world of technology led interface.
AI helps you make sense of all that data, as it helps predict what customers might want and then use that information for inventory, product development, and many more things. In a world that is emerging as ever-connected and solutions interacting with one another – thereby defining a comprehensive consumer personality, hyper-personalisation has fast become the foundation stones of super app revolution – a characteristic usually associated with a device or platform till now. This would not only open doors to declutter user experience; but more importantly strengthen a personalised bond between customers and bank to tide over the faceless layer of technology and data. All this, without infringing upon the privacy of the customers.
(Neeraj Sinha is the Head of Consumer & Retail Banking at SBM Bank (India). The views expressed by the author are personal)