Banks are finding it more difficult to retain customers thanks to new ways to conduct transactions. Now, banks are focusing on how they can leverage data and culture to improve their customer experiences (CX). Citizens Bank is a prime example of how banks are changing their communication and marketing effort. Here, Beth Johnson, chief marketing officer and head of virtual channels for Citizens Bank, offered these words of wisdom about how bank CMOs can improve their CX.
Leverage Data to Personalize the Marketing Effort
First, we know data is incredibly powerful. It facilitates multi-channel, relevant content. Yet, Citizens gets even more from available data. Johnson explained, “We use data to drive decisions, but not just in how we market to customers. Also, we’re looking at data to enable streamlined end-to-end customer experiences.”
Now, they use a data platform to deliver an insight or offer. “For example, we can provide timely information about student loan refinance, using the right channel for that customer. This is based on data analysis that predicts a customer is at a point where a refi product may help them save money or manage their debt.”
Yet, they are conscious of the fact that they must use data responsibly. For example, they work with regulators to establish guardrails on how to use data. The result has been the highest customer loyalty scores ever achieved at Citizens. Also, they’ve seen a 15% improvement in net-promoter score in their contact center.
Use AI For CX Improvement
Next, artificial intelligence is a great example of how marketing and overall customer experience converge. For Citizens Bank, the future of consumer finance means creating an “anticipatory finance platform.” Now, banks can use their data to create actionable insights focused on anticipating their customers’ and meeting their customers’ “needs landscape” in real time. Also, banks can build seamless technology platforms that put the consumer at the heart of the experience.
According to Johnson, Citizens had made great progress by leveraging a buy, build, partner strategy to evolve its technology capabilities. “AI is a critical component in this evolution. For example, it allows us to merge the data, research, and technology instead of being constricted by data that doesn’t talk to other data. Therefore, AI is going to become more applicable to how we deliver for customers as we see the lines between products, services, and physical space blur for banks.”
Establish Specific Business/Marketing Priorities
Then, to optimize CX, banks must have specific priorities. For the second half of 2018, Citizens’ focus is to deliver integrated, multi-channel campaigns that reach across customer segments. To support its student checking launch, Citizens leverage traditional marketing tactics and add partnerships for a Millennial and younger audience.
Johnson added, “We’re doing influencer work to build awareness and engagement beyond the product. We’ve engaged in-market individuals in the HerCampus network to promote local events. This included a graduation party held at Citizens Bank Park (home of the Phillies) in Philadelphia.”
Also, they support student-focused offerings through City Beats. They’ve worked with established musicians in three core markets to share their personal anecdotes about the unique connections they have with their city. This was complemented by a video of a Citizens employee, which highlighted Education Refinance Loan and One Deposit Checking benefits.
Focus on Continual Optimized CX
Plus, Citizens Bank doesn’t believe in functional silos because customers don’t like or use them. Hence, they aren’t differentiating the marketing engagement from their mobile banking experience.
Johnson noted, “My team, which includes marketing and virtual channels, is charged with creating and ensuring frictionless end-to-end customer experiences across the bank. Integration is key. This is why we aligned all virtual channels, including the contact centers. We create channel-agnostic experiences where the focus is on CX, not the delivery channel. Also, relevancy is at the core of what we’re doing – whether digital or face-to-face. If content and advice don’t feel relevant to the customer, it won’t matter which format is used.”
Therefore, using data-driven insights can maintain this essential relevancy. From there, it’s about understanding, improving, and simplifying the customer experience.
Develop a Customer-Centric Culture
Now, there’s a growing realization about building a “customer-centric” culture. Citizens Bank has three key initiatives for customer-centric culture development. The first involves going deep into understanding the customer experience. Plus, they look at inefficiencies or pain points that should be addressed through new processes or technology implementation.
Second, they are making tactical changes. Johnson stated, “For example, we have been able to simplify many of our disclosures so they meet legal, regulatory, and compliance requirements. We’ve been able to reduce the length of some disclosures by 60%.”
Lastly, they are conducting a gap analysis. They want to see if employees believe in their customer-centric culture. And, if not, understand why. “We need to identify what prevents it from feeling real to employees and solve for those gaps so the culture feels real across the organization.”
Finally, improving the customer experience does not always mean changing the customer-facing initiatives. It also involves behind-the-scenes, foundational aspects of the banking business. For Citizens Bank, that means being passionate about promoting the role of women in the banking industry. Indirectly, this positively impacts their CX because customers admire their focus on diversity.
Therefore, Johnson and her team feel strongly about promoting women in banking. “I was fortunate to have a senior colleague notice my potential and provide coaching, input, and sponsorship at the most critical moments in my early career. That experience inspired me to serve as both a mentor and a sponsor for others. Sponsorship is the differentiator. It goes beyond mentorship and signals to the colleague that ‘I’m willing to put my reputation and relationship currency at stake to promote your abilities to others.'”
Hence, the CX bottom line is data, personalization, attention to service components that provide multiple solutions, and a diverse culture all go into creating an enhanced experience that keeps customers and adds new ones to the fold.
This article originally appeared on Forbes.