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How can data help financial services brands differentiate their offering?

2nd Feb 2015
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The relationships customers have with brands has changed dramatically in recent years. If brands want to remain relevant to their audiences they need to be prepared to adapt, and fast. Today, customers are armed with instant access to information through any number of devices, so can make quick decisions based on price and the service they receive almost instantly.

The trouble is price alone is no longer a big enough differentiator.

If you look at the numbers for Black Friday, it was the retail brands with a defined retail proposition that proved to be the most successful. If you get your proposition right, present an appealing offer at a good price, customers will come and buy from you in abundance.

In the insurance and retail banking sectors, where more and more companies are offering products that are invariably similar at ever increasing cost, it’s a very different picture. While financial services industries do not naturally sit at the forefront of the customer’s mind 24/7, it is hugely important to the customer that they can trust their service provider when they need to, and know that they are listening to them. Data can help you identify at what moment they will be thinking of you, irrespective of where they are in the customer lifecycle.

With little differentiation on the end product other than price, brands need to identify and communicate other ways they can add value to their customers’ lives. If they don’t, customers will struggle to see the value they offer and fail to become loyal or engaged beyond the necessity of needing an insurance provider.

So what can they do?

Any world-class business knows that they have to understand their customers’ needs – even before the customer realises it themselves – if they are to continue their leadership position. When you have millions of customers, all over the world, interacting with you across a variety of touchpoints, understanding these needs can often prove difficult, but it is essential to the creation and delivery of a successful data-driven marketing campaign.

Brands need to establish an effective ecosystem, which unifies their different data sets into a single repository, so they can fulfil the needs of their customers when they are in the moment and most susceptible to be influenced.

Achieving a single customer view is now critical, no matter what sector. The data insights are available, so there’s no excuse not to use them, especially in the battle to remain competitive and retain a customer’s loyalty.

We all know that data is key, but it’s the insight that data provides which holds the real value. Brands need to make sure they are investing in the tools and Cloud-based technology systems which collate these data sources together. Alongside this, they must invest in talent and the resources required to fully understand what this data means and how it can be used to build a better picture of the customer.

Case study example

Aviva takes this very seriously and follows the belief that that it has to trade on something more than just price, and offer something back to its customers. It recognised that its customers don’t think about insurance on a daily basis. Yet, when something goes wrong, they expect immediate action from their insurance company. They want confidence that their insurer will be there and that the processes they have to follow are transparent and efficient.

Data-driven marketing plays a vital role in this story and provides Aviva with the ability to proactively interact with customers and deliver an experience that positively differentiates it from its competition, enhances loyalty and increases ROI with confidence that it is meeting regulatory compliance guidelines.

With a single view of their data and the ability to automate multiple steps throughout a marketing campaign, Aviva is able to act quickly and with precision. As a result it can reach new customers with targeted automated communications created from learnings based on previous customer experiences or it reaches out in real-time as quickly as the weather changes when required.

Recently, Aviva used this single customer view to send its customers daily text messages to outline the impact of impending bad weather, explaining Aviva’s role within the claims process and providing instructions to start a claim. Choosing to communicate through SMS marketing messages allowed Aviva to effectively connect with customers during a difficult time, and provided a differentiator that would build the customers loyalty to the brand.

Aviva stated its goal was a 25% increase in campaign volumes to more than 100 campaigns per month with four to five steps within each campaign. It exceeded that mark and now averages 150 campaigns per month, with plans to increase that number 10-15% year over year.

Steve Jobs once said businesses needed to ‘Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.’ Following this advice, and keen to not lower costs and profit margins, many financial services providers are looking to improve their engagement with their customer to foster loyalty with them that will provide a separate differentiation from price. 

Christopher Kollat is country manager UK&I, Teradata Marketing Applications.

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