April 23, 2013

Consumers are demanding more personalized services from their banks, and they’re willing to share more personal information to get those services, according to a new customer survey conducted by Cisco. The Cisco Customer Experience Report found that 69% of U.S. customers would be willing to give their bank more personal information if it meant they could receive more personalized services, such as real-time financial advice and identity theft protection. For instance, 53% of U.S. customers in the study indicated that they would be willing to provide their bank with a fingerprint for biometric authentication.

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The majority of U.S. customers in the survey (54%) did not think that their bank had enough information about them to deliver such personalized services. In contrast the bankers who were included in the survey were far more confident that they had the information necessary for providing personalized services. About 58% of them said that they had enough personal information on their customers.

The divide between the perception of customers and bankers on this issue simply shows that banks have not been delivering the personalization that customers are expecting, says Al Slamecka, Cisco’s financial services marketing manager. “There is an opportunity here to be more proactive and predictive, for the banks to give their customers a sense that they really know the customer,” Slamecka comments. “A few hundred bits of data is all that’s needed to make that happen.”

Customers expect that data to be kept hidden from third parties though, with 57% of consumers indicating that they don’t their bank to share any personal information they provide with any other organization, even if it would improve service for customers.

The personalized services that customers cited as being most interesting in the study included identity theft protection (77%), personalized advice to increase their savings (73%), more financial education (67%) and an assessment of their personal financial health compared to other customers (47%).

The biggest barrier to offering these services, Slamecka suggests, is not a lack of data, but a need for reorganization among the banks. “I think it’s fair to state that banks have been built in a siloed fashion. Ensuring that data is aligned is difficult,” he says. Breaking down those silos to get a better understanding of the customer across the organization is the key to giving customers what they want, he advises.

Banks also need to shift their focus towards the digital channels in thinking about products and customer experience, the survey results suggest, with 63% of customers responding that they are comfortable communicating with their bank through digital channels with texting, emailing or video conversations. And 48% of customers said they’d be willing to close complex transactions such as loans or mortgages through such digital interactions. But Slamecka points out that “products are still designed today with processes with the branch as the main channel.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jonathan Camhi is a graduate of the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism, where he focused on international reporting and interned at the Hindustan Times in Delhi, ...