Every company shares a goal of, ultimately, wanting to better engage with customers and improve the overall customer experience. It doesn’t matter how big your organization is, or how famous your brand name may be; every business lives and dies by its ability to engage with customers. And, customers today are demanding digital engagement.

For the financial services world, that means giving customers online options for their banking needs. Millennials present a new generation of customers who are living overwhelmingly digital lives, and consequently, demand to interact with brands and businesses in a digital way. In order to stay competitive, banks need to adapt to these lifestyles; it’s up to them to get onboard with digital transformation so they can engage these customers, or risk losing them and their business.

The Decline of Traditional Banking

It wasn’t that long ago when customers conducted all of their banking in-person. Opening new accounts, applying for loans and lines of credit, ordering new checks, transferring funds or seeking out general customer service – all of this was done face-to-face at a local branch. Without the internet, it had to be done that way, of course.

Naturally, the rise of online banking has completely changed that landscape. The majority of these services are done quickly, easily and conveniently from a customer’s laptop or phone, and most queries can be resolved in a simple phone call. That’s not to say the traditional, brick-and-mortar bank is dead. Banks still very much rely on physical branch locations for acquisitions and higher-end, more complicated products – for example, a new customer signing with the bank would be done in-person. Or, taking out a particularly large loan would require a customer to come into the branch to sign some important documentation.

But, the traditional 9-to-4 banking structure has largely shifted online, in response to the desires of customers who prefer to access their banking services online. The emergence of purely online banks has only increased pressure on the traditional banking format even more. All of these market factors have driven, and continue to drive, the banking world to rapidly adopt a digital transformation strategy.

What Does a Financial Digital Transformation Even Entail?

“Digital transformation” is a pretty broad topic. We’ve touched on just a handful of its many different applications for customer engagement, ranging from planning around the digital economy and creating more digitally-driven call centers, to implementing delivery mechanisms for digital communications and leveraging omnichannel strategies for physical and digital engagement. Frankly, these are just the tip of the iceberg. So, it’s fair to ask what, exactly, digital transformation in the banking and financial sectors even means.

At its core, digital transformation is fundamentally about improving the customer experience and adapting to their changing expectations by creating new ways for them to engage with your business, however and whenever they like.  Affording them that new level of convenience makes it that much easier for customers to interact with you, and in turn, makes it more likely that they will return for repeat business in the future.

There are many different ways to achieve this, but one crucial strategy is to connect different data siloes across your organization (in this case, the bank) together. This makes it much easier for your organization’s customer-facing representatives to call up information relevant to a customer’s profile or needs, information that had previously been scattered across a range of different internal databases, and engage with that customer in a more personalized way. Breaking down these data siloes allows banks, and any organization, to infuse customer engagement touchpoints with real-time insight into their behavior. This not only allows for more personalized customer responses, but also enables you to deliver relevant “best next action” messages to drive further business.

CDOs, CIOs, CMOs and CFOs Must All Work Together for Digital Transformation to Succeed

In addition to connecting data silos, executive management silos must also be aligned.  Banks see their best results in implementing digital transformation and improving overall customer engagement when their CFOs, CDOs, CIOs and CMOs are all working hand-in-hand to execute a digital transformation across the entire organization. The CFO provides the budget for the transformation, the CDO and CIO identify new customers through data and the CMO creates the best customer experience. This leads to increased revenue for the CFO and improved shareholder value for the CEO.

This level of teamwork is especially valuable in heading off any potential for a negative customer experience. Just the act of creating a digital experience can’t be enough, because digital alone isn’t a recipe for success. Creating multiple channels for customer engagement, for instance, doesn’t make things any easier for the customer if you’re forcing them to manually sign into each one every time they want to communicate. CIOs, CDOs and CMOs can all lend a hand in ensuring that new digital opportunities are implemented in a streamlined and easy-to-use, rather than a convoluted or annoying, manner.

In the financial services world, creating an effective, top-down digital transformation strategy that can meet the changing needs and requirements of your customers, keeping them served and engaged, needs to be a team effort to work. Only by aligning your executive team around this goal can you reap the benefits of better engagement and an improved customer experience.

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