Anyone who has worked in the retail sector has heard the infamous expression, “The customer is always right.” Even after thousands of caveats to this statement proposed by retailers over the years, the bottom line has always resulted in service representatives attempting to optimize the buyer’s experience when interacting with your business.

The customer-focused mindset has now extended to the digital realm with the practice of customer journey optimization. This process requires having a few critical elements in place:

  • A strategic roadmap outlines plans for the foreseeable future and leaves room for adaptation or evolution.
  • The customer journey mappings detail how customers interweave with your business through all touchpoints.
  • Connected delivery systems provide journey orchestration to customer interaction scenarios that will present the most positive and holistic user experience possible.

Mind the Gap

A train platform

As much as we strive for user experience optimization, there is a disconnect when applying these digital experience practices in the banking and financial sectors. The phrase “The customer is always right” can test the thresholds of banking policy. In this domain, it’s better to “Do what is appropriate for the customer.” This mindset requires banks to take a rigorous look at the definition of “appropriate.”

Historically banks have been very siloed, organized by product domain with complete separation of both information systems and approach to strategic operational management.

The additional element needed to implement customer journey optimization not mentioned above are the journey analytics that must exist as a decision-making foundation across your strategic roadmap, journey mapping, and journey orchestration. The analytics provide the necessary digital measurement and crucial insight that allow companies to implement the appropriate journey guidance accurately and efficiently.

While we have previously stated the importance of developing a strategic roadmap and implementing specific customer journey analytics that can guide the customer experience, we never said it was an easy task. In 2021, Gartner identified a pivotal barrier to such change.

“Many organizations have been unable to respond to their customers’ needs because most fall in the trap of “Customer Management Industrial Complex” — a persistent network of technology providers, service providers, and customer end-user organizations involved in managing customer relationships. The Customer Management Industrial Complex prescribes operational efficiency under the guise of customer centricity and prioritizes short-term profits over long-term customer relationships.”

Understanding there indeed is a disconnect starts by recognizing that historically banks have been very siloed, organized by product domain with complete separation of both information systems and approach to strategic operational management. Daily banking operations do not communicate with the investment operations, who do not talk to the credit and lending operations. Beyond the infrastructure split, it is common that banking policy is the internal battlefield, with marketing and demand generation on one side facing off with underwriting and risk management on the other.

Analytics Can Be the Bridge

A bridge over the water

There is a middle ground and ways to bridge gaps, but it takes a collective agreement across divisional lines to jointly design a holistic strategic roadmap. Any business can create a comprehensive and inclusive plan by looking at all customer journey maps across multi-product journeys and, of course, a deep discussion of which customer journey analytics elements are most effective in influencing the visitor journey.

Mutual agreement on what analytics are needed and where they make the best impact will dictate your success.

Ensure that from the first meeting, where risk management teams sit down with marketing teams, there are clear discussion points about new account activation goals, customer lifetime value, credit risk tranches, and ultimately the need to match multi-product journey treatment to all ranges of visitor personas.

The actionable insight gained surrounding key customer touch points (before, during, after), plus the actionable insight from customer journey experience planning beyond individual touchpoints, will provide teams with the quantitative and qualitative measurement evidence to support each journey. The mutual agreement on what analytics are needed and where they make the best impact will dictate your success in completing the journey orchestration and making progress on your strategic roadmap.

Optimization is not a Destination

A camper van parked at the beach

If you are on your way to completing your customer journey maps and are now looking towards optimizing each area to the cross-functional team’s satisfaction, please consider bridging the gap by identifying the required decision variables sooner rather than later.

While you may not all agree on the specific range of credit scores to receive specific treatment options, you can at least compose a list of the expected qualitative measures needed to influence touchpoints as you begin designing competing journey experiments.

Working through the exercise of identifying which variables are needed, at which customer interaction touch points, for which personas, and for which journeys might seem daunting. However, the exercises will prepare your team for control over customer treatment across products and portfolios. Building the skills now will ultimately differentiate your financial institution from the rest.

We welcome you to reach out to BlastX to guide you through any of these critical steps. Our stellar team of consultants will create a tailored plan for your business to ensure your custom journey is as seamless as possible.