Customer-centricity may have dominated the business narrative in recent years, but things are set to go up a gear as context is added to the mix, bringing us to the cusp of a truly transformative operating model. The rule book has been ripped up. The search for a relevant audience to fit with an existing service offering no longer cuts it in an era in which the customer is driving the scope of the proposition at their convenience. More than ever before, businesses must adjust and react to consumer demands to deliver an engaging experience if they are to compete and drive revenue and profitability.

Crucially, this means being able to pick up on even the most subtle changes in customer behavior and make the timely interventions needed to deliver on these heightened expectations. Maintaining optimal service through a preferred channel at a preferred time must be offered as standard to secure customer loyalty.

Getting to this point ultimately starts with having far better knowledge of the customer, so they are seen as individuals, rather than a segment to place into convenient categories. Only then can we understand their personal motivations behind the purchase journey, from what keeps them on a particular web page to establishing why they haven’t renewed a subscription. Here, the value of customer intelligence and the speed with which it can be collated and utilized becomes the game-changer.

It is of course, an entirely logical progression. Thanks to the strides in digital technology we have a far more multi-layered and expansive pool of customer data to work with, relegating the sole reliance of focus groups and surveys that barely scratch the surface to the distant past.

Similarly, customer information is no longer confined to the parameters of a CRM database. Real-time sales feedback, peer-to peer exchanges that play out across online communities as well as call center data, can provide far more meaningful and richer insights and, when combined, a much fuller picture. The challenge therefore becomes how we centralize and integrate all the disparate strands of data and harness analytics to drive actionable insight for faster and more intuitive decision-making.

Only by interconnecting everything, from on-premises to cloud applications, microservices to APIs and connected devices, do we have the right foundation from which to introduce a more contextually-fluid approach to the customer experience. This can then consider an individual’s location, intent, community, even environment, ready to introduce far greater personalisation into the product and broader experience.

It’s a process that has brought significant transformation to the financial services industry, as it strives to meet the increasingly ‘anywhere, anytime’ service expectations with greater digital innovation and flexibility, particularly through mobile and social services.

Advanced algorithms drill deep content analysis of a customer’s financial status, objectives, risk aversion and respond to the nuances of their personality, behaviour, and even current mood with more pertinent offerings. Furthermore, intelligent apps make financial information more accessible and user friendly, so there is less need to trawl through the reams of literature and competing information, perfect for the digitally savvy but time poor.

This has reaped dividends when it comes to the consumption of investment services, an area that has long been in need of an overhaul, as perceptions around costs and complexity deter a broader audience. Services that consider the fundamental question of why someone is investing in the first place, and then link the product to their specific goals and milestones such as saving for house or tuition fees, is an example of a more personal touch.

Further tailored interventions include features that encourage socially responsible investment decisions, offering a sliding scale of ethical organizations based on set criteria as well as introducing a more conversational and collaborative approach to an investment decision by linking the customer to relevant online communities.

For the user, there may be a frictionless continuity across channels, but behind the scenes, things are working overtime to deliver it—a complex infrastructure spanning integration, event processing, analytics, and master data management, which must be both flexible and robust to prevent data loss and ensure security isn’t compromized. The connected customer necessitates a fully connected architecture, free from silos, just a common set of processes for each channel, ensuring customer interactions can be managed and tracked with total uniformity.

Today’s customer doesn’t make any allowances if latency compromises their mobile shopping experience or if their details are forgotten or mislaid as they channel hop. And businesses have no excuse—all the information is there, along with the infrastructure to integrate it.

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