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Banks are using innovative technologies to create exceptional digital experiences that support proactive and insightful conversations throughout the customer journey

In a digitally-connected world, bank customers expect intuitive, highly personalized engagement across all channels – and banks are rising to the challenge. “Factors such as the economic downturn and the rise of fintechs with smart technology platforms have caused customers to rethink who they should work with and how they can meet their financial needs,” says Marcelo Marquez, director of Worldwide Financial Services at Microsoft. “As a result, financial institutions face the challenge of steering their entire infrastructure – from the branch to the ATM – in a direction that enables exceptional customer service.”

It’s a challenge that banks across the world are working to address, says Edwin Van der Ouderaa, managing director, financial services at Accenture Digital. “Bank customers want the Uber experience – they want to get a loan or make payments with two taps on their smartphone, in real time, with no paper involved. It’s a logical expectation given people’s mobile-first lifestyles: I want to buy a car, not a loan; I want to finance that purchase with a few taps on my phone and then drive away. That is all possible now, and banks are looking at how they leverage technology and data to achieve it.”

Cognitive computing and machine learning technologies are enabling banks to create digital advisors that can learn from behavioral data, anticipate customers’ needs and make personalized recommendations. “Bankers want to know who they’re talking to besides their transaction,” says Steven Jacobowitz, associate partner – Microsoft Dynamics CRM Global at IBM. “Cognitive computing enables them to take information that’s stored in the bank’s electronic data warehouse and all the social sites, and to develop a customer profile. Bank staff can see the best way to interact with the customer and, based on their behavior, recommend the right products to increase their wealth and gain a greater share of their wallet.”

IBM is working with Microsoft to combine cognitive computing with machine learning in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, enabling banks to turn data into actionable insights. “We’re combining IBM’s industry expertise in financial services with Microsoft’s products to tell the whole digital banking story, enabling banks to augment their existing technology investments,” says Jacobowitz. “Using Dynamics CRM, the banker can see a 360-degree view of the customer’s household or company, including all the accounts the client holds with the bank, their interactions, their value to the bank and any customer service issues they’ve had. We’ve also included indicators to say what type of buyer the client is, based on all that information. The client’s banking profile can be compared with other similar behavioral profiles to gauge what they’re likely to want to purchase and generate recommendations for the next best action or product reference. The solution also dips into the knowledge base and brings back the appropriate resources to help agents deliver the best service to the customer. This gives bank staff a full picture of all the opportunities the bank has with the client.”

Accenture and Avanade recently launched Accenture-Avanade Customer Analytics & Insight, a banking-specific modular CRM solution that orchestrates omni-channel interactions and provides a framework that turns analytical customer insights into actionable treatments. The solution extends the capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics CRM using models running on Microsoft Azure Machine Learning and leverages Accenture’s patented Customer Analytic Record – a one-of-its-kind data model to manage and structure big data to enable customer needs/life stage/context-based micro-segmentation. “Big data analysis enables banks to predict the type of purchases the customer is going to make and the size of loan they will need,” says Van der Ouderaa. “Those insights are used to deliver a personalized experience to the customer, to do real-time price analytics and risk scoring and to provide benefits such as merchant rewards. It makes the whole bank come alive to the customer.”

In a mobile-first world, carrying those insights around is essential in enabling bank staff and financial advisors to deliver insightful customer service where it’s needed – and the security and cross-platform capabilities of Windows 10 are enabling banks to empower mobile staff. “Advisors can use simple questionnaires or high-impact images to do the financial planning for clients and explain how the bank could be a source for their growth,” says Marquez. “In many cases, using digital signatures, those advisors can close the deal while they’re on the road.”

These capabilities are already transforming the banking experience into proactive, personalized engagement with customers. “By using data and mobile technology banks can proactively reach out to the consumer with a proposal, instead of waiting for customers to come to them,” concludes Marquez. “They can design loosely coupled infrastructures that enable them to partner with different entities to provide a holistic service – for example, by providing payment and settlement for an app. In doing so, banks will become part of a bigger value chain, and part of customers’ everyday lives.