Martin HäringMartin HäringJanuary 15, 2018


Today’s customers are expecting more than ever from their favourite brands. With a proliferation of tech-savvy companies tuned into the digital economy, customers can have on-demand access to food, transport, and endless personalised services at the touch of a button. Why shouldn’t this be the case for their bank services too?

A recent survey conducted in the UK highlighted that incumbent banks still have a long way to go before they meet their customers’ expectations.

Further research shows that mobile and online banking are now gathering significant pace, with more than a third (38 percent) of consumers carrying out their banking via a mobile app on a regular basis, rising to 53 percent for the 18 to 34-year-old bracket.

Mobile banking 1.0 brought simple banking transactions to our fingertips. But banks can’t rest on their laurels – the death of the simple mobile banking app is not far away.

Customers are now expecting a much more joined-up, customer-centric approach. Step-in mobile banking 2.0 – the future personal finance management tool giving a single view of a customer’s finances, including bank account, student loan, credit card balance, mortgage applications, and more.

Changes to competition in the banking industry come into play this month, such as the move to open banking and the second Payment Services Directive (PSD2). These are set to drastically shake up how a bank interacts with its customers. So how can banks maintain mobile leadership and what should bank CMOs be doing to provide customers with more streamlined services?

The customer-centric bank

It can be easy for banks to lose track of what is most important to customers, and organise their business to focus on functions and product lines. This product-led mantra leads to a siloed approach to business growth, and neglects customer satisfaction.

When customers ‘feel’ a purely transactional relationship with their bank, it can be difficult for them to build a significant amount of trust. This means important customer relationships risk being resigned to the short-term.

It is the bank CMO’s responsibility to champion their customers’ needs, bringing these to the board and shaping business strategy to fulfil expectations. In this respect, the role of the CMO is gradually changing into that of a ‘Chief Customer Officer’ (CCO) with scope to foster a more customer-led culture, and an ethos around creating customers for life.

AI-driven experience

In the future, customers setting up a current account and accessing mobile banking applications may see integrated AI chatbots guide them through the process – with the chatbot asking them a few questions and requesting verification, such as a passport or identity card.

With this type of automation, account set-up time can be reduced to a matter of minutes. Customers can also have immediate access to their account, tailored to their preferences, with the bank fulfilling vital KYC (know your customer) and AML (anti money-laundering) requirements.

With the use of AI, banks can become more attuned to their customers’ needs and offer highly efficient processes. Optimisation of onboarding processes such as these, that previously would have taken multiple days, will also give vital time back to staff to deal with more strategic activities.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies are not only enhancing processes such as customer onboarding, but are also helping to improve different aspects of customer interaction to improve the overall Customer Experience.

Banks today can receive hundreds of FAQs and enquiries through their call centres every day. By using AI-enabled chatbots to automate responses, customers could receive answers to their queries in a matter of minutes – and again, bank staff can be freed up to deal with more pressing issues. But banks mustn’t lose the human touch altogether. By giving the opportunity to connect with an agent via video link, customers can be assured there is always the option to speak to a human if required or preferred.

The power of data

Customers, along with data about their transactions, are the most valuable assets a bank possesses. With AI now helping to bring new-found data insights and analytics capabilities, bank CMOs can harness the power of this data – using it to serve up personalised services and recommendations to customers.

The simple mobile app alone is giving banks a window into customers’ accounts and needs. Customers using a mobile banking app will give their bank access to data such as their location, transaction history, salary, mortgage rates, holiday budgets, spending habits, and more.

With PSD2 coming into effect this month, this proliferation of data will only continue, as consumers begin to grant trusted third parties access to their banking data through open application program interfaces (APIs). Bank CMOs should be capitalising on this opportunity and connecting the dots between their customers’ transactional data, personal data, and social media data. Powerful AI algorithms can then identify when these customers will be most receptive to a service, allowing banks to provide unique products personalized to their needs.

The role of the CMO is changing

To build true customer-centricity in the long-term, the mindset of the modern-day bank needs to change. The CMO must act as the navigator on this journey, taking the leading role and highlighting the benefits of cognitive technologies such as AI to the Board.

In five years, the traditional role of the CMO certainly might not exist in the same guise as it does today. I predict the CMO’s role changing into that of a Chief Data Officer or Chief Customer Officer – someone who dives into advanced data analytics and prioritises the needs of the customer.

The customer is continuing to shape the way we interact with our banks in every way. Banks that fail to deliver true customer centricity in this fast-approaching competitive world, driven by open banking, surely won’t survive for very long.


Martin HäringMartin HäringJune 22, 2017


Customers are the life and blood of today’s businesses. The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is the champion of these VIPs, and in this role they must facilitate continuous, two-way conversations, both on a personal and professional level. Failing to do so could send the CMO’s career down the pan.

In the Cambridge Dictionary, a “conversation” is defined as: “a talk between two or more people in which thoughts, feelings, and ideas are expressed, questions are asked and answered, or news and information is exchanged.”

Businesses today are mostly getting the first aspect of this definition correct, and actively conversing with their clients. But there still many businesses failing on the second and most vital aspect – the exchange of valuable information.

The very foundation of customer-centricity must be based on a meaningful two-way dialogue that opens channels for feedback and enables a swift response to customer needs. But how can CMOs get it all right?

Engage and Add Value

The starting point is a platform for these conversations to take place. Valuable interactions won’t happen unless you make them happen. For example, online communities and social channels are invaluable, but always remember that there is no substitute for face-to-face interaction. Engagement still needs that personal touch. Hosting customer user groups that meet regularly and holding roundtables will give your clients the chance to interact directly, as well as with their peers.

Be Personal

Don’t revolve all interactions around your products – this will inevitably see your customers lose interest quickly. Instead, tell persona-based stories they can relate to. Use data to your advantage to start personalised conversations that demonstrate you truly understand your customer’s challenges. Move away from the transactional and make the effort to understand their needs. Businesses that really differentiate themselves listen to their customers – tailoring business strategies to accommodate new-found insight.

Go above and beyond

Though listening to your customers may give you an insight into their needs, there could still be underlying issues they aren’t yet aware of. Offer them the chance to have post-sales ROI assessments which will gauge the value of your solution and demonstrate your commitment to their wellbeing. Involve your clients in the early stages of product design processes or beta programs and open up opportunities for co-innovation. It will show that you respect them as experts and that they are at the centre of your business.

Keep Your Promises

Don’t cross your fingers behind your back – keep your promises, and keep the tools that enable you to do so close to hand. A quality CRM system is a great tool here, and using it to its full extent to record as much customer data as possible will only help to strengthen relationships. Build analytical intelligence around conversations and track your customer data on one platform to predict your clients’ future needs. Always be one step ahead of the game. Lastly, share this information across the business – with the end goal being a fully integrated approach to customer-centricity without silos.

The CMO is ultimately the one responsible for facilitating and driving valuable conversations across the whole organisation. One of the most important things to achieve first will be rallying the company behind this customer-centric effort. Properly equipping your sales teams with relevant data will foster a joined-up approach, helping meaningful and personalised conversations to become second nature in the long term.

Those businesses which are failing to engage with their clients at the right time, with the right message, and through the right channel will ultimately lose customers to better equipped and more customer-focused competitors. In this scenario, the CMO will have a lot to answer for.

Interesting Links:

Martin HäringMartin HäringAugust 22, 2016


Bank customers are less and less likely to visit bank branches for simple transactions – they now prefer to conduct daily banking activities online. This means digital marketing is now more important than ever but the use of traditional advertisements in digital channels to sell products might not be giving banks the desired results, due to ‘banner blindness’.

Banner blindness is the phenomenon of users consciously or subconsciously ignoring web banner adverts. It was first reported in the late 1990s, when heatmap studies tracking a user’s eye movement over a given area showed that users did not focus on any banners.

They tend to ignore all content resembling a banner advertisement – even if it is not an advertisement.
Users are bombarded with excessive amounts of advertising on websites so eventuallythey become indifferent towards it. They also ignore text-based advertising on websites.

How can you combat banner blindness?

1. Focus on your customer needs.

Avoid tools that trick or force users to look at advertisements, such as pop-up messages, adverts that cover what the user is trying to see, or posts which automatically play sounds. These advertising methods can be effective in combatting banner blindness but could also frustrate and/or annoy users. Therefore, banks should avoid using these advertising techniques.

2. Do not spam customers with advertisements. Deliver fewer, but more relevant and personalised messages. 
Banks have to deliver messages that are relevant and targeted to the user e.g. a personalised offer that helps the customer to solve an actual financial problem or pain point. By doing so, banks can actually improve customer satisfaction.

3. Use design to attract attention.

Rather than tricking or forcing users to look at advertisements, banks should carefully design their online marketing banners using simple messages and images and make the advertisement less banner-like. It has been proven that certain design elements and images – such as human faces and eyes – attract human attention and that the more an advertisement resembles native online or mobile banking page content, the more users will look at it.Until they accomplish their goal or find what they are looking for, users do not read every word. Rather, they scan, looking for keywords.

4. Use A/B testing to optimise marketing messages.

The smallest difference in the advertisement wording or design – such as colour change of a button – can have a huge impact on click-through rates. Banks should use A/B testing to optimise their marketing messages.

5. Be relevant.

Deliver the right message at the right time: use location-based offers and contextual cross-sale links.

Personal financial management applications or gamification tools that reward consumers for providing details of their financial goals or aspirations – a reward could be a financial incentive, but it could also be a useful budgeting tool or data visualisation – are very helpful in providing valuable customer insight that can be utilised to segment and personalise marketing campaigns.

6. Use interactive tools instead of banners.

Banks should also look into the use of interactive tools to deliver marketing messages. They are often more successful in gaining the customer’s attention than traditional banners. Interactive ads can educate customers about products – by using tools such as quizzes, calculators, questionnaires and online chat tools. They will also help banks to understand the customer’s financial needs, pains and goals.

7. Remember, consumers listen to their peers more than their bank.

Banks should motivate and reward customers for recommending products to their friends and family. Digital channels integrated with social media can be a great combination for banks to run such recommendation and incentive programmes. Digital banking applications should also provide satisfied customers with the facility to share messages and reviews on social media, especially at the end of a successful sales process or customer interaction. Banks can also motivate and reward customers for sharing information on social media with the help of gamification tools.

With mobile penetration increasing on every continent, and over three billion internet users in the world, it’s no longer good enough just to have a basic ‘first generation’ digital banking platform. Banks have to address banner blindness and carefully understand their customers’ behaviour to help them achieve their goal. This will be essential to turn digital banking into a strategic revenue- generating channel and help banks meet customers’ needs in an ever-increasing digital world.

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