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Microsoft Industry Blogs

Howard Bush headshotHoward Bush is a Principal, Banking and Capital Markets Lead on the Azure Cloud Industry Experiences team at Microsoft. Howard is a 25+ year banker, wrapped in IT clothing, building bridges to cloud adoption impacting the Banking and Capital Markets industry at the speed of innovation.

Below, Howard provides insights on how artificial intelligence (AI) is empowering banks to deliver differentiated customer service through personalized experiences and relationship selling.

Personalizing retail banking with AI

In the 1950s, being a successful retail banker meant developing lasting relationships—taking time to understand each customer’s personal and financial goals. Bankers listened carefully and internalized details about each customer’s business network, community involvement, and personal relationships. This informal social database was key to a bank’s success, and experienced bankers passed information along to new hires much in the way folklore is passed from one generation to the next.

p1In a world dominated by automated processes, this relationship-based approach to banking has fallen by the wayside. Far from serving as trusted advisors, some bankers have become cogs in an impersonal financial services machine. Today, only 24% of consumers believe their bank understands their current goals.1 Because of this, many banks are looking for new ways to help sellers and advisors cultivate the reputation of reliability, trust, and competence they need to establish and maintain customer relationships.

p2 Advances in AI are empowering bankers to bridge the understanding gap to their customers and reestablish themselves as trusted advisors. Though financial services firms are in the early stages of AI adoption, 32% are already using AI technologies.2 Given that improving customer experience is a priority at more than 90% of large banks, it’s no surprise many of these early adopters are focused on engaging customers more effectively.3 According to a recent survey, generating personalized communications at scale is one of the key reasons today’s financial services organizations are turning to AI.4 As banks and financial services organizations adopt AI, many are also beginning to explore intelligent sales strategies that leverage AI-generated insights to help advisors foster lasting relationships by tracking life events, business activities, and professional relationships that matter to customers. 

Transforming customer engagement with Intelligent Sales Advisor from Microsoft

Intelligent sales strategies leverage technology to map customer interactions, identify customer networks, and highlight opportunities to influence customer behavior early in the buying cycle. ​Deploying these strategies enables sellers and advisors to highlight the value they deliver for customers and make contacts aware of their professional skills. Intelligent Sales Advisor from Microsoft provides pre-integrated software as a service (SaaS) apps and platform as a service (PaaS) technology that leverage AI, empowering advisors to make informed decisions based on each customer’s actions, behavior, and personal network. To provide these capabilities, Microsoft combines its portfolio of customer relationship management tools and advanced cognitive services with partner cloud applications that aggregate customer data and leverage predictive analytics to provide actionable insights and anticipate each client’s needs.


LinkedIn Sales Navigator, VeriPark Customer Insights, and VeriPark Next Best Action empower advisors to identify high-potential leads, build holistic customer profiles, anticipate customer needs, and personalize client offers and alerts. VeriPark’s VeriTouch and VeriChannel solutions enable more effective customer acquisition by providing a secure platform that empowers organizations to manage seamless customer journeys across multiple touch points. Finally, Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales complement these capabilities by providing sellers with the business tools they need to communicate effectively and manage ongoing customer relationships. By uniting these solutions, Microsoft’s Intelligent Sales Advisor scenario empowers banks to transform the way advisors work.

Instead of cold calling or sending templatized emails, advisors using Intelligent Sales Advisor leverage data-driven sales recommendations that help them track customer transactional activity and identify the appropriate financial products and services to offer. Additionally, Intelligent Sales Advisor creates personalized communication processes that enable sellers to establish themselves as trusted advisors by engaging clients more effectively and delivering differentiated customer service. 

p4Intelligent sales strategies are already delivering impressive results. Research indicates that banks deploying machine learning tools to predict customer needs and guide outreach can increase sales pitch response rates by a factor of 20.5 Why do these strategies work so well? Because advisors leveraging intelligent sales techniques know how to engage the right customers at the right time, they gain customer interest and mindshare. Rather than receiving generic emails or awkward cold calls, customers receive tailored messages that correspond to their current needs. This personalized outreach builds trust, which, in turn, enables advisors to cultivate lasting relationships built on an understanding of each customer’s goals and challenges. 

Delivering a new era of personalized banking

Just like in the 1950s, new relationships, enabled through social channels, are timeless bridges that connect trusted sellers to the customers they serve. Helping customers make the right choice at the right time has always been at the heart of sales. While times have changed and new technologies have emerged, listening to customers and understanding their individual goals remains critical. Leveraging intelligent tools enables advisors to deliver the personalized service customers have always expected at the speed and scale today’s business environment demands.

Check out the Intelligent Sales Advisor scenario on today to learn more about empowering your sellers to deliver differentiated customer service, build better relationships, and grow their customer portfolios.

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1NIIT Technologies, Delivering Personalized Digital Banking Experience, Undated

2Narrative Science, The Rise of AI in Financial Services, 2016

3Digital Banking Report, Improving the Customer Experience in Banking, 2017

4Narrative Science, The Rise of AI in Financial Services, 2016

5McKinsey & Company, The future of customer-led retail banking disruption, 2017