Reconciling tradition with technology: Augmenting the human experience in financial services

By William Perry, Head of Financial Services, UK&I, MEA at Medallia


The financial services sector has experienced drastic technology-led disruption in recent years. Finserv businesses have long relied on intimacy and face-to-face customer meetings, but the increased demand for digital services has tested these traditional ways of working and interacting with customers.

Finserv brands have also had to respond to the seismic behavioural changes that the pandemic only accelerated. Traditional customer touchpoints have now been replaced with an ever-growing list of digital customer channels.

Customer expectations have also evolved, with customers now expecting differentiated experiences and, in particular, deeper personalisation of product and service offerings. Service must be highly differentiated to suit customer needs, and omnichannel access and rich digital functionality have become standard features.

An industry at a crossroads

Despite these evolving customer expectations, the promised land of easy-to-use, simplified digital finserv utopia hasn’t materialised. The expansion into new digital channels led to customer data proliferating across multiple channels, posing a challenge for how finserv businesses build a comprehensive view of their customers and understand their interests and aspirations in real time.

William Perry

It’s easy to see how such a problem has developed. As CX strategies have matured over time, organisations have introduced new technologies to solve individual problems – one product to enable the customer service team to take calls, another to enable the digital team to understand website behaviours, another to allow the marketing team to send off campaigns, and so on. With every new system, the amount of data has grown, making it difficult to get an accurate, 360-degree view of the customer.

Considering that a third of digital CX woes stem from poorly accessible, siloed data and limited cross-department alignment, it’s no surprise that so many modern organisations are delivering fragmented and impersonal experiences.

The difference between leaders and laggards

Customers don’t think of brands as separate channels and touchpoints, they expect a joined-up experience no matter where or when they interact. Product and convenience alone are no longer brand differentiators; at a time when fintech start-ups are snapping at the heels of the traditional players, the new battleground is experience.

Today, consumers are willing to pay up to a 16 percent premium for a better experience across a wide variety of products, and organisations that provide superior experiences – the ‘CX leaders’ – have more than five times the revenue growth compared to ‘laggards’.

What sets CX leaders apart from the crowd is their ability to address customer needs ‘in the moment’, no matter the channel. By working collaboratively across departments, organisations can deliver the kind of experience that makes customer journeys feel seamless and engaging.

Finserv brands that master breaking down silos and unlocking omnichannel experiences, as well as helping customers with their needs in a timely, relevant and personalised way, will come out the winners.

The rise of customer-led journeys

In recent years, customer-led journeys have become fundamental to the success of many leading brands. Customer-led journeys provide organisations with the ability to empower customers to seamlessly pave their own unique experiences across business units, touchpoints and technologies – all in an instant.

Enter ‘journey orchestration’ – a new breed of technology that enables brands to provide these stand-out experiences. This technology connects customer journeys across online and offline channels, giving organisations, for the first time, the ability to see how customers really interact. When a customer is engaging with the brand, it connects with existing systems to activate the rich data already held. This is the customer context (what the finserv knows about them), which unlocks relevancy in personalisation.

Journey orchestration is built to do one thing really well, and that’s managing and changing customers’ experiences in real-time. These platforms are aware of all possible campaigns, messages and interactions from every channel, so they are able to ensure consistency – thus putting an end to conflicting messages being received by the customer as they switch channels. Think of it as an air traffic controller, managing the millions of individual customer flight paths in real time.

Embrace change today

Changing customer expectations and emerging technologies, coupled with global uncertainty, have all created the perfect storm – but they have also allowed a number of new opportunities to emerge.

Finserv organisations who acknowledge these changing dynamics and embrace new opportunities fuelled by omnichannel experiences and real-time customer insight will find themselves well-positioned to navigate this current crossroads between ‘tradition’ and ‘technology’. If done well, it will help them retain existing customers and boost their experience, capture new investor and investment opportunities and, ultimately, grow firm profits.


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