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Financial Services Races toward Customer Experience Greatness

Data and analytics — the secret sauce in a 360 degree customer view

The financial services industry is racing to deliver amazing customer experiences. Completing my first year at Hearsay – and looking back on years spent at data and analytics companies – the race was inevitable. As digital technology capabilities rise, customers’ expectations have increased for personalized, high touch engagement and the industry has been forced to compete in an age of transformation.

The goal of building a seamless customer experience has been pursued for over 10 years now. Industry after industry has been disrupted by cloud-first, agile and flexible upstarts, driven by volumes of new data types that could suddenly be captured cost-effectively and we entered the age of the customer. The personalized experiences of B2C giants like Amazon and Uber forever changed the way every company does business. From retail to healthcare to streaming movies to insurance, customers today choose businesses that deliver an engaging, relevant experience by phone, online and in-person.

At the core of that customer experience? Data. For the Financial Services industry, this is fortuitous. As an industry, a side benefit of mandatory compliance and regulatory requirements is the vast amount of both customer and communication data we capture. This data can be the foundation for creating more personalized experiences. Working with enterprises in the era of big data, the ultimate goal of almost everyone was to build a 360 degree view of the customer. One of the biggest challenges coincidentally, was the capture of customer data and client engagements. However, as innovative, open source technologies such as Hadoop and Spark let us both house and capture streaming data and unstructured data — social media data being one of those — our views began to expand. With enough data, artificial intelligence began to hit the mainstream. We could suddenly detect sentiment, for instance, with more accuracy as our algorithm finally had enough data to train quickly with increasing levels of accuracy. Simply put, our ability to understand and serve our customers personally was greater than ever before.

However, there were challenges. First, the majority of customers had enterprise legacy systems with siloed data. They struggled to integrate ever increasing amounts of information to create one ‘golden record’ for each customer that could be accessed across all departments. Second, and by far the bigger challenge, was incomplete (or in some cases too much) customer data. Enterprises had difficulty capturing and integrating data and of course determining what gold actually existed in the vast data lakes that emerged. They were often limited by cost and talent to sort relevant data and began building metadata catalogs. These challenges continue.

For financial services today, however, we are much further along in addressing these issues. The constant capture required for compliance has become invaluable. We can now expand our view and understanding of the customer with the data captured across multiple communication channels such as social media, texting and voice. Applying AI, we can begin to automate and trigger actions that will make personalization faster and more precise. AI is so prevalent because of these simultaneous data forces. For more on this you can read my article on the convergence of forces that drove this phenomenon.

Financial Services firms still struggle with many of the same integration issues other enterprises face. However, the data collection phase is ripe for discovering valuable insights. Insights that will lead to a more personalized experience that advisors and agents can deliver based on client expectations. I’m excited to see the progress our customers are making on this journey to create a high tech and right touch experience for their clients. When we enter 2020, the winners will be those who leverage data across multiple communication channels and leverage insights to drive action for a one of a kind, personal client experience.

Donna Prlich

Hearsay’s Chief Business Officer Donna Prlich is responsible for global strategic business initiatives, marketing and partnerships at Hearsay Systems.

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