By Doug Winter, CEO of Seismic, a financial technology company based in California
When it comes to new technologies, banks find themselves in a challenging position, pressured by low interest rates and a difficult lending environment, but needing to invest to meet rapidly evolving customer expectations and to address ongoing regulatory demands. Some triage is inevitable.
Inevitably, spending will fall into two broad categories – investment in essential systems to protect the business and customer information, and an allocation of resources to those technologies that can improve customer experience and deliver a measurable return on investment (ROI) in a reasonable period of time. For many banks, the latter category should include an emerging class of systems known broadly as content automation. These solutions give client-facing teams smart ways to get their organizations’ best and most relevant content in the right customers’ hands at the right times, and deliver it the right ways – through whatever channel or on whatever device the customer prefers. This, in turn, prompts more positive and productive conversations between bankers and their customers, creating better customer experiences and stronger relationships.
Though their usefulness is broadly recognized, it’s still early on in the deployment of these technologies. A recent survey of marketing executives conducted by our company found that more than half (55 percent) had been personalizing content for two years or less, and that 67 percent were adding that personalization via an entirely manual or mostly manual process. Only 40 percent were using CRM data to inform their efforts.
While the study didn’t focus on the banking industry specifically, the results are certainly applicable. The top three ways that content was found to impact growth were brand development, sales effectiveness, and sales targeting and marketing. The value of end-to-end, cross-platform personalization was widely recognized. Nonetheless, nearly two out of three CMOs admitted that at present it’s hard for their salespeople to find the right content when they need it.
The investment required to address the content personalization challenge can be relatively modest; the return can be substantial. Following are brief descriptions of some of the ways content automation solutions are leveraging popular systems and applications – and the enterprise data they contain – to drive customer experience improvements across delivery channels.
- A Single Platform for Omni-Channel Delivery – Most content automation systems support information delivery via Web-based applications, PCs, tablets, and smartphones. The best of these systems can automatically optimize a bank’s content for delivery over all of these channels. For banks’ marketing teams, this gives them a single, central and easily managed repository where they can ‘publish once and share many’. For banks’ relationship managers and lenders, these systems eliminate the guesswork and hassle of delivering content through the right channels and on the preferred devices. With automatic optimization, these systems maximize both the impact of the materials being shared, and the efficiency of staff in the field.
- Maximizing CRM Data and Other Enterprise Data Resources – Most content automation solutions include APIs that allow banks to integrate them with applications that their client-facing teams use most, such as CRM and email systems. The best systems offer ‘out-of-the-box’ integrations with popular systems such as Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, and Microsoft Outlook. With these precast integrations, relationship managers don’t have to exit the apps they’re most productive in to go and log in to some other system to get what they need. Instead, content automation solutions put the data and content in those systems at relationship managers’ fingertips and instantly available.
- Predictive Content – The best content automation systems not only make content more readily available – they automatically serve up the right (best, most up-to-date, and most relevant) content to be used with specific customers. Essentially, this takes the power and intelligence of predictive analytics, and applies it to the challenge of preparing for and conducting client meetings or interactions. These systems ‘predict’ what content will work best, and make it available directly in the applications that bankers’ marketing and sales teams use most. By doing so, content automation solutions help relationship managers, loan officers and other client-facing staff to leverage enterprise data to fuel conversations, tailor messages, and enhance interactions with customers and prospects.
- Productivity, Flexibility and Responsiveness – Content automation systems not only allow for more effective use of a commercial bank’s content, they make it easy for staff to adapt of customize content for specific new business opportunities or client situations. The best of these systems provide automated assembly of customized materials such as presentations, prospectuses, and pitch documents with just a few clicks. Whether it’s customizing a presentation for a specific opportunity, or adding new elements to a proposal on the fly, content automation systems give client-facing teams an efficient way to be more flexible and responsive to clients’ and prospects’ needs and preferences.
- Analytics for Optimizing Marketing Effectiveness and Tracking ROI – Some content automation systems offer built-in content tracking and usage analytics capabilities. With this visibility, banks’ marketing teams can see which pieces of content are being used – or not used – in the field, and how each piece of content is working in the field. Usage is an effective litmus test for content effectiveness. These tracking and analysis features provide the intelligence that marketers need to focus and optimize their content strategies, and measure ROI.
In a tough business environment with increasingly commoditized products, banks are challenged to maximize the impact of every dollar of the technology spend. By consistently delivering relevant, value-added content across all delivery channels, commercial banks can drive significant increases in customer satisfaction, loyalty, advocacy and greater customer lifetime value.