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Banks must personalise services before others do

It strikes to my digital nerve when I see forms that ask for a FAX number. What’s a FAX?

Or someone said the other day that I should Xerox that. What’s Xerox?

Times change and move on. We don’t dial anymore or tape. In fact, kids don’t recognise half the signs boomers make, like this one.

That’s Beyonce … but even she’s in the older demographic now, according to marketing thinking.

Times change, culture moves on, people think different and business works in new ways. It’s called progress.

All well and good, but a bank doesn’t work this way. A bank absorbs the news and views of new generations, but keeps the embedded processes of previous generations. This is why forms ask if you are a Dr., Mr., Mrs, Ms. In today’s world of LBTQ, I am not a he or she or Mister or Missus. I am me or Mx. Live with it.

In fact, many traditional banks are still geared up for purely recognising the traditional breadwinner in the household – the man – and imply that everyone else is a hanger-on. How 1970s is that?

The issue then is that if you revamp and refresh, to be cool and down with the young crowd, you alienate the old crowd. Boomers don’t want to be called Mx’s. You can call me Mister or Sir. That’s fine.

This leads to a debate I have in my head quite often around boutique banking. Too much of finance is generic and treats customers as a homogeneous mass. We are not. We are all individuals. As individuals, we are all different and should be treated differently*. We should be treated as a specific person of value. We should be dealt with on a personalised level, based upon our specific needs and wants.

This is something I’ve said for over quarter of a century, as a disciple of Don Peppers and Martha Rogers book of one-to-one marketing (released 1998). What I cannot believe is that two decades later, I am still treated as a number account and one of the masses. I ring the bank (they know my telephone number) and they ask for my account number (they can recognise my voice), then I get through to a human (eventually) and they ask me to verify my details for security purposes by giving my account number (again) along with my name, date of birth, two digits from my PIN, mother’s maiden name, blood type and place where I lost my virginity. Ridiculous.

IT’S 2021 GUYS.

WTF am I living in a world of 1970?

A lot of it is to do with banks not refreshing their processes and systems since 1970, but it is also because banks do the littlest they can for the masses. They don’t deal with customers 1:1, have no idea about personalisation, and structure everything as though being a customer of value is of no importance unless you are high net worth and in the wealth management

This will change.

In fact, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning is a game changer in this space.

Bring AI to personalisation and a HUGE opportunity opens up to cater for the folks who are Mx’s and Mr’s; for those who tape and those who stream; for those who never want to talk to you and those who visit the branch every single day; etc.

Financial institutions really need to reboot to deal with this new world of high touch and white glove service in the digital age as, if they don’t, their customers will walk. After all, they are all individuals and all different*.



* well, maybe not

About Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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