Why a 360-Degree View of the Customer is Important in Financial Services

Andile Khumalo

Digital innovation is reshaping the financial services industry. The industry has learnt from the lessons of Blockbuster and Blackberry that they can't ignore and resist technology-driven change. The days when financial institutions kept information about customers in different account-related applications is fast disappearing. The recognition is growing that someone interacting with a customer needs instant access to all that customer's account and transaction data in one central location. The concept of a 360-degree view of the customer that contains not only a customer's transaction history but also their interactions with the business allows for a unified view of the customer’s journey and enables collaboration by different departments. Going further than that, it's not just having access to account data, it's also having those client-specific details that are a critical component of delivering the best possible service to the customer.

Salesforce talks about a Customer Interaction Journal, a CRM which provides a record of every interaction the bank has ever had with a customer - similar to the way an electronic transaction journal is the central store of transactions. However, achieving this requires integrating data from different applications, with different data structures and formats, into the single digital platform which is the CRM - and doing this in near-real time.

Single View of the Customer in Financial Services

Financial institutions are building new architectures to digitize business operations, deliver connected customer experiences and gather actionable customer insight. In different parts of the industry, the goals are different.

In retail banking, it's about:

  • creating a digital experience that's consistent with what customers would expect from meeting a banker in person;
  • simplifying the account application process with access to information in one central location, anytime and anywhere;
  • getting a complete view of customers so that personalized needs-based consultations can be given;
  • and delivering all these interactions at scale.

Personalizing interactions with clients centered on personal goals and life events is a key requirement in wealth management. Advisors need to maintain relationships by staying in touch via proactive tracking and getting reminder alerts to reach out on key life goals. Greater visibility on not just the client but household opportunities can improve personalized advice.

Information and knowledge are at the heart of the insurance industry. Therefore, removing information barriers and breaking down silos is a key requirement. Insurance companies also aggregate data from customers, brokers, and other sources.  Consolidating and synchronizing data from internal functional applications is critical.

Improving Customer Visibility and Understanding

A recent report by PwC points out that the financial services industry tends to have a simplistic understanding of its customers. In order for the industry to succeed, financial institutions need to develop a more complete understanding of their customers to deliver an enhanced customer experience.

Customers, as well as financial institutions, are generating exponentially increasing amounts of information. The companies that prosper will collect and harness both structured and unstructured data to develop a customer-centric business architecture. This will give them an information advantage.  

A CRM that provides this 360-degree view of customers will need a platform that can aggregate data from multiple sources and store that data in one place, and then push the consolidated data into the CRM.

How an Integration Platform Empowers Interconnectivity

Data sitting in a transactional application is of little value unless it can either be consolidated with other data for useful business purposes. A Hybrid Integration Platform (HIP) is the go-to solution to integrating all of a business's customer data. It enables an organization to break application and data silos. By providing a data storage solution that can accommodate structured and unstructured, it allows data to be aggregated and synthesized before being loaded into the CRM where the information can be used.

A HIP is the platform needed to integrate data, providing the ability to connect to cloud and on-premises systems at any time. The platform uses a collection of tools including standard application connectors but also adds data access, transfer and storage capabilities, this includes ETL, API management, and data lake architectures.  

A HIP has several important features

  • Contains pre-built connectors, data mapping and transformation rules
  • Enables faster development of integrations using drag-and-drop functionality
  • Makes it easier to integrate with legacy applications and the growing number of APIs
  • Allows automated connection of applications across different environments
  • Centralizes the management of integration portfolios
  • Encourages the re-use of common integration patterns
  • Provides secure, encrypted communication to ensure integrity and security of data exchange

Synatic's software-with-a-service (SWaS) incorporates our knowledge and experience of integration services as part of our integration solution package. Customers can focus on the design of their integration solution and decide on the implementation method while we take care of the rest.  

With Synatic, there are low upfront costs and businesses pay for only what they use. Once the ROI of the initial integration project is delivered, the next issue can be tackled. By using this iterative approach, an integration project can start quickly, realize speedy time –to- value, and each step of micro-innovation can lead to macro-innovation.  

Benefits of Integrating Financial Services Data

Customer data is key to decision-making and is playing an increasingly important foundation for financial institutions. This is why getting the right data, to the right person, at the right time has become a big determining factor of business success. Integrating financial services data allows financial institutions to improve customer service and extend the opportunity to increase share of wallet. Unless customer data information is captured and integrated effectively, financial services businesses will not have the full visibility of their customers and how they are interacting with them.

By investing in a HIP, financial services companies can unleash the potential of their business and discover new product offerings and more attractive services.

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