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Marketing imperatives for banks in the digital age

Brands will do well to get started on a few AI backed marketing initiatives soon to stay on top of consumers’ minds

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In the last few years, marketing has undergone metamorphosis. Marketing was conventionally considered an art but with proliferation of data and arrival of digital technologies, it has become a science driven by precision. The marketers especially need to make use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the brand building. AI in simple terms is automated diagnosis of data powered by algorithms to identify underlying patterns, make predictive recommendations, streamline routine work and enable two-way communication. Large companies have initiated steps to get a foothold into this exciting space; however, advanced steps are required as this space is marked by winners take it all rule. The overwhelming discourse concerning AI in the marketplace is around cost saving potential resulting from job cuts. It is vital that discussions shift towards the role of AI in enhancing customer experience and creating new jobs, as it has the potential of maximum impact on ensuring positive brand impression. As per a Salesforce survey nearly 50% of the marketers are using AI to deliver personalization at scale. In recent times, India has also seen fair traction in this field with major banks offering chatbots to supplement their customer care function. National Stock Exchange of India has gone a step further by using AI to identify patterns that could help prevent manipulation of high frequency trading.

The financial institutions need to embark on advanced steps in AI to surprise and delight consumers. There is a need to focus on mapping consumer needs with existing products and think how innovative AI tools will bring brands closer to consumers for a win-win scenario. Brands will do well to get started on a few AI backed marketing initiatives soon to stay on top of consumers’ minds:

Be proactive to meet consumers’ needs: Dynamic pricing has taken a firm root in ecommerce and travel space. Amazon effects price changes in products millions of time every day. Financial services players can also take cue from players in other industries and mainstream AI based differential product pricing. Digital consumers have higher aspirations and they want their relationships with brands to be valued in tangible terms viz interest rate variation, fee concession, customized offers and liberal credit terms. AI can be used to predict price sensitivity of various cohorts and plan the appropriate outreach. Consumers are also no longer satisfied with only static information or receiving a notification about a problem after it has already occurred. They value forward looking recommendations based on their current situation. This can be accomplished by applying advanced AI tools to make good use of granular level insights on consumers in their day to day life, even outside their regular touchpoints in financial services

Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) is piloting an AI based forecasting tool for car dealers to predict demand for vehicle purchases based on customer data. This tool intends to motivate auto dealers to offer RBC lending products more frequently

Look for differentiators: Institutions that delay in offering differentiation run the risk of a major dent on the profitability. The role of AI needs to be reimagined to augment customer experience using a human element. It’s a no-brainer that consumers value human touch, however some of the basic interaction points such as balance inquiry and funds transfer can now be effectively handled by bots. Banks need to look for ways to solve bigger problems that consumers are facing through the intervention of AI. Consumers have a number of unarticulated and latent needs that can be addressed only by humans. It’s however a difficult task to find the right kind of banker to meet the specific needs of consumers. AI tool can be designed in such a way that it has a readily available list of bankers along with their personal and professional profiles where consumers can pick the ones they feel connected to. Idea here should be to build trust of the consumer by focusing not on selling but understanding their situation and offering most relevant advice for the given context.

US based Umpqua Bank is working to humanize the digital banking technology by enabling its consumers to select their own personal financial experts through the AI enabled banking app. Consumers just need to press a button to start interacting with their preferred banker.

Become an ecosystem hub: The incipient open banking scenario will reward banks that target to become more of ecosystem providers. The consumers will be sharing data with multiple service providers and competitive differentiation will be reaped by entities that make optimum use of data to provide tailored recommendations and valued experience using AI. The increasing penetration of companies like Google, Amazon, Uber, WeChat in the financial services space makes it imperative for financial institutions to keep thinking of not only the new products but also improve their existing service offerings. Financial services players can also partner with technology, fintech and AI companies to quickly build and scale differentiated propositions and make their brand “a platform of choice”.

Google Translate and Facebook’s timeline algorithm are the services built on AI that have continuously been improving as users interact with them.

Empowered consumer appreciates tangible value creation and marketing efforts are aimed only at pushing products, or the brand will drift away. Banks have access to huge amount of all important structured and unstructured data, however this will prove useful only if advanced AI capability is deployed to get maximum out of this data. Marketers have long struggled with tying back the money spent on campaigns to actual conversions. AI will enable highly targeted data based personalized campaigns which are easy to measure. As per the state of marketing report by Salesforce, 80% of consumers regard experience with brands as important as product or service. Real time engagement with the consumers is a top priority for brands and application of AI can convert this elusive goal into a concrete proposition for marketers. As high speed internet and financial inclusion continue to make inroads into the remotest corners of globe, the timing to ramp up AI capabilities could not have been better.

Authored by Chitranjan Sood, Senior Manager, Publicis Sapient


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