The idea of personalisation (aka “one to one marketing” or “segment of one”) is not new nor specific to technology. Since commerce began, sellers would adapt sales approaches/offers according to the habits of person they would deal with. The trusty corner shop owner typically knew when and what their regular customers would come in for adapted dynamically to the customers mood.
However, it was Martha Rogers and Don Peppers book “The One to One Future” that stirred a revolution in marketing. Written in 1993, before the Internet was popularised by Netscape browser, the book espoused how technology could drive personalisation of products, services, messages and offers. Then as the internet and web-based email began to get popularity, the one-to-one movement accelerated as it became easier to personalise content with web technologies.
Fast forward over 30 years, and whilst there is a renewed buzz around “hyper personalisation”, the jury remains out on whether anyone has even delivered in a way that is consistent with the one-to-one thesis. With large volumes of data available from consumers’ social, search and browsing behaviour, campaigns can become hyper personalised, as outlined in Campaign Magazine in 2012. However, I believe the hype reached its peak last year and the difference seems to be the combination of using:
- AI and predictive analytics
- Real time data not just stored historical data
- 3rd party data sources
Whilst appearing a bit “buzzword bingo”, we should add in that this requires omni-channel integration; hyper personalisation delivered through omni-channel distribution based on customer behaviour and preferences. The outcome is the delivery of products, services, messages and offers in a timely and relevant way. Sounds very much like a customer engagement strategy, right?
There is a question over whether banks are really ready or up for it. I’ve worked with banks that today still struggle with single customer view (something I envisioned over 25 years ago with Lloyds Bank), let alone one-to-one marketing! The move to hyper personalisation also places increased demands on existing systems and a stronger data platform that has much greater scale is required as more channels x more data sources x increased frequency (real time) = increase in data 3V’s (volume, velocity, variety).
In this world, customer consent and trust are paramount. But these are only part of the picture, what is missing is the study of human behaviour. Specifically understanding how people behave with money. Behaviour is much more than a set of skills or knowledge. It’s the set of things you do everyday that is inborn, varies by person and changes with individual circumstances.
The financial services industry, fraught with regulatory and market demands and some sense of responsibility, talks much about products to help us with our financial needs. But there is very little talk or consideration about what’s actually going on inside of people’s heads when they get close to, or far away from, money.
From science, we are discovering new pathways, with evidence from fields such as behavioural economics, that show we are generally deeply wired for the present moment, having fun and being social, way more than we are to developing complex, risky and “way too far in the future”, financial plans. Facebook and Candy Crush – we get it. Our experiences drive our beliefs, which inform how we respond/act and then our results.
As banking re-bundles, “systems of engagement”, those that look beyond personalisation, are becoming increasingly important and well recognised. When Dennis Choo of UOB hires gamers and behavioural scientists and gets good results at TMRW, everyone gets curious. More than anything else, he talks about engagement.
Systems of engagement wire into the data, to reveal customer behaviour and drive a gamified, personalised experience. One that blends into their lifestyle. If YOLO’s your thing, you’re not responding to messages about being careful. You are responding to opportunities for life experiences. So too the opposite as a responsible homeowner, managing your “free to spend”, you are actively looking for and responding to cost saving and budgeting. Of course engagement has to be timely and relevant, however not just based on financial data alone we have to get closer to the customer and their motivation.
Gaming as a blueprint for engagement solves for this. It recognises players motivations by determining who plays and how. By doing so, it recontextualizes the customer as a player, dramatically changing the perspective and launching the design team into designing strategies to drive engagement based on who they are, what they believe, what they respond to and how they act.
The market and the player both seek engagement. Facebook’s valuation, then and now, remains predicated on daily active engagement not just on number of users registered. The more players engage on the platform, the greater the loyalty, knowledge and opportunity. Banks should aspire to more than four interactions a day, to help drive a much more aggressive and stronger engagement strategy. Engagement is where their battle for customers will be against big tech companies seeking to enter the fray in banking.
So I guess what I’m saying is that personalisation, hyper or not, is the wrong way to think about how banks deepen trust and customer loyalty, instead they should focus on customer engagement driven with gaming principles rather than data driven rules.
Dharmesh Mistry has been in banking for 30 years and has been at the forefront of banking technology and innovation. From the very first internet and mobile banking apps to artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR).
He has been on both sides of the fence and he’s not afraid to share his opinions.