Don’t lose out to your competitors – Personalize offers at the right time.

You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built they’ll want something new. – Steve Jobs

When was the last time you visited a video or record store? Consumers these days know exactly what they want and they don’t wait around. If you are not able to provide it immediately, you’ve lost the game – your customer has already moved on to your competitor. Spotify and Netflix obliterated the video and record stores market by offering products exactly when the customers were asking for it. The same is applicable for any industry – yes the banking industry too.

In this ever-changing world of customer 3.0, the bankers should be able to offer products before their customers start asking for it. Highly context-specific and personalized offers are the only way banks can keep their customers loyal in a world with extremely low switching costs. If you take 4-6 months to launch the offers your consumers are looking for now, don’t bother – they would have already gotten it from somewhere else. With the leaner, more agile FinTech players coming in, there is no dearth of banking service providers for your customer to turn to.

Banking is necessary, banks are not -Bill Gates

So the question remains, “How do you launch offers in the market given the fact that the average lifetime of an offer has reduced drastically to even a few months in some extreme cases.”

Agile Processes

The first and foremost way is to look at your internal banking processes. Starting from design to launch and then subsequent orchestration of the offer, everything needs to be seamless and automated. In a corporate banking scenario, the offer creation process needs to be completed much before you reach the negotiation table – with a couple of next best offers lined up. This means creating different variants for your offer along with profitability analysis and approvals. The business as well as technology has to move hand in hand for this to happen successfully and in an agile manner.

Analytics

Gone are the days when you can come up with an offer based on requirements gathered from the customer. If you do so, you have automatically become column fodder in an RFP and the deal is going to one of your competitors. You have to anticipate the requirements – this is where analytics comes in. Historic analytics will help you understand how corporates have used your products in the past. Coupled with this, you also need predictive analytics to interpret how macro and micro-economic conditions affect your customers’ business (along with other factors like what your competitor is offering in the market). And to top it off, you need prescriptive analytics to understand how you can best build your new offer and the effect it will have on your top and bottom line

Technology

Let’s get down to brass tacks. Technology will play a big role in how fast you can deliver on your promises. The idea is to create more agility into the system and this can only be done when the reins are with business rather than IT. The idea is to have multiple abstractions of the product layer.

In this scheme, only the technical products are maintained in the core banking and require intervention from IT. The next few layers contain variants of the technical products which the business can edit and change themselves. This allows you to be much more agile and immensely cuts down on the time to launch.

Currently, lots of banks have implemented such middle layer systems which can orchestrate a much faster time to market for all their products and offers. Banks cut down their launch time from 6 months to 2 days. Typically, these are the banks which have left their competitors far behind in the running.

Time is of the essence when you are wooing the next generation of customers. You need to act now!

Tathagata, or Teekay is a marketeer working in the financial services domain. He can be reached at @TathagataK.
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