There was a time when receiving personalized service was something for the elite. For the lucky few, it meant having a suit made on Savile Row or a personal banker developing an investment strategy adapted to your needs. For the less fortunate majority, there were choices between different brands of mass-produced goods or identical services. However, while the personal touch for high spenders is still available, technology is driving a revolution in the everyday experiences of consumers in diverse sectors.
Banking brands need to offer the personal touch
Technology is reshaping the way customers experience brands in almost every sector. In financial services, the companies that get this right are going to enjoy a large competitive advantage.
Bespoke experiences for all
Online players, such as Amazon, have been pioneers in driving advances in personalized marketing and online shopping experiences based on demographic data and a deep understanding of customers’ shopping patterns. Customers at all levels are receiving information, offers, and recommendations based on their circumstances and interests on a scale and at a level of granularity that simply was not possible before.
However, it is not only digital-first players that are using technology to deliver personalization. Sephora, the beauty product retailer, blurs the boundaries between digital and in-store as part of its customer experience in many different ways. For example, customers who have an in-store makeover get the products that they used uploaded into their profile for reference and reordering. Conversely, consumers who have had a virtual makeover can use the app to help them find the products in the stores.
These day-to-day experiences of personalized services are driving consumer expectations and creating a new dynamic in every sector. Financial services are not exempt from the revolution in expectations and are going to have to find new ways of relating to and interacting with their customers. This is going to create winners and losers.
Personalization drives brand loyalty
There is increasingly clear evidence that that personalization strengthens brand loyalty as well as improving sales. A massive 89% of consumers choose financial institutions based on how well they incorporate personalized experiences, and 41% of US consumers are loyal to brands that offer the opportunity to personalize products or express their individuality.1
However, personalization needs to be more than just a gimmick. It is about the entire customer experience and it is about the combination of the digital and the physical into one seamless package. While the digital dimension is without any doubt important, “delivering unique customer experiences in non-digital channels … can be a game-changer.”2 Financial institutions would be unwise to focus on one channel to the exclusion of the other.
There can be no question that the companies that can deliver a good experience will be the winners in the personalization race. For financial institutions, there is still everything to play for. A recent US survey3 of brand intimacy places the financial services industry in only ninth place out of the 10 industries the survey covered. This is despite the fact that the sector is improving on consumer engagement across a number of metrics.
Card issuance is a key touchpoint
While banking customers will have an overall view of their relationship to their financial services provider, some touchpoints can be made to symbolize the commitment to a personalized relationship more easily than others. Card issuance is one of those areas where financial institutions can signal just how profoundly services have changed – in addition to issuing a card personalized to the card holder – and leave a positive long-term impression expanding and deepening personalization.
There are concrete financial benefits from individualized cards and related services for issuers. They result in:
However, rethinking the issuance journey as a whole can bring additional brand loyalty benefits above and beyond the direct financial impact. G+D technology ensures that issuance of personalized cards and even deeper personalization can be a reality for banking customers – such as creating their own individual card design, for example. This increases user satisfaction and differentiates the issuer from other brands. This starts with personalization of the card printed and physically sent to the card holder with an individualized enriched carrier letter or packaging. Through smart issuance solutions, there are so many more possibilities available now than offered with traditional card personalization.
Technological trends and customer expectations mean that personalization in banking is not only accelerating, but also deepening. It is increasingly important for brand loyalty. Companies that deliver a good, personalized experience are more likely to be the winners of the future.
The most effective personalization will be a 360-degree experience throughout the available touchpoints with customers. However, some of these touchpoints across card issuance can be important symbols of the new relationship between financial services and their customers during onboarding. These days, this can mean so much more than just a personalized card design.
Financial services in general have scope to improve performance in this area, so there is a lot to be played for. Companies that make early moves to improve customers’ experiences of personalization are likely to be the biggest winners.
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