Online hacking concerns fuel banking innovation

Co-author: Corina Jordan

Eye-scanning technologyWhile more and more customers want the convenience of online and mobile banking, concerns over cybersecurity are an increasing challenge for the financial services industry. Consumers fear their financial safety may be more at risk of being hacked as fraudsters reach new levels of sophistication. But will it drive them into the branch instead of banking online? More likely, many customers will seek out a financial services provider that offers the most secure technologies for digital banking. Translation: Security innovations for digital channels will be a powerful driver for retaining customers and attracting new business.

Secure customer satisfaction using the latest technologies

Secure banking starts with the login, and exciting technologies are emerging to make the process more personalized than ever. Finovate Fall 2014 introduced the latest trends in online security, featuring facial recognition and retina scanning designed to reduce the risk of fraudulent access to personal and financial information. A few innovative technologies include:

To enhance customer confidence in using digital channels, Hoyos Labs uses facial recognition and retina scanning instead of usernames and passwords. Implementing this highly individualized mobile app may help businesses increase customer satisfaction — especially in financial services.

With technology that scans over 240 unique points on the human eye, EyeLock has one of the most compelling security technologies on the market. Customers can simply look at a device to confirm their identity for secure access to their accounts. EyeLock can verify customer identity at store locations, as well as via a personal device customers can use to make logging into online accounts fast, easy, and secure.

Leverage technology to keep customers (and keep them engaged)

As online and mobile commerce is rapidly becoming a standard way of life, having advanced security technologies is a necessity. For financial institutions, offering highly personalized secure access to digital banking may make a measurable difference in customer retention and acquisition. Banks that make consumer confidence a key part of their business strategy may gain the competitive edge to differentiate their brand in a crowded marketplace.

Is the CMO the new CIO?

Customer dataHarnessing “big data” with advanced analytics can provide actionable insights that help Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) drive highly targeted marketing campaigns. Yet surprisingly, more than half of CMOs say big data doesn’t factor into their marketing decisions. Many say the main reason they don’t use big data is because their organization doesn’t have the right technology in place to compile all customer data into a single view. To reap the benefits of big data, CMOs are becoming more tech-savvy.

First, know your customer journey

To help inform smart marketing tech investments, CMOs should gain a comprehensive understanding of the customer journey from initial awareness to purchase, through to an ongoing relationship between the customer and the brand. Consider such questions as:

  • Where can technology improve the efficiency of marketing operations?
  • Where can you automate the buying journey to deliver a better customer experience?
  • Where can you deliver customized offers to increase revenue?

While your organization may capture transactional data from every point in the buying journey, it’s time to think more broadly. For more valuable insights, you’ll want an integrated marketing tech solution that synthesizes structured and unstructured data from many sources into a single view of the entire customer lifecycle. In this way, you’ll be better equipped to understand how customers interact with your company across all channels (e.g., email, phone, print, social media, etc.), and which channels may be more profitable.

With full visibility into the customer lifecycle, CMOs can identify numerous ways to segment customers to deliver the right offers at the right time. They can also more effectively partner with other lines of business on strategies to improve customer experience at every touch point.

Think like a CIO

Once you understand your customer journey and have pinpointed opportunities to segment customers for targeted marketing, you can assess where marketing technology can make a bigger impact, such as driving lead generation or increasing revenue. That’s where the CMO really starts thinking like a CIO. (Some companies that recognize this importance have created a new c-level role: the Chief Marketing Technologist.)

Collaborate with your IT partners to choose technology that will complement your strategy, rather than creating a strategy to suit your technology. For example, suppose you’re trying to increase engagement using video content –what’s the best channel for that strategy? Here are a few key considerations:

  • Plan for a comprehensive view by choosing technology that can aggregate and analyze structured and unstructured data from many different sources (e.g., transactions, registration data, call center transcripts, social media, surveys, etc.), and deliver insights in a single, integrated view.
  • Leverage existing IT environments and look for opportunities on how they can complement any new marketing analytics technology to optimize data collection from all points in the customer journey. Consider ways to integrate multiple systems to form one, more complete customer record.
  • Create an implementation roadmap that prioritizes the technologies that can improve marketing operations or make you more competitive. Work with the CIO and IT team to develop timelines that work for everyone involved.

The big data advantage

Big data is a powerful resource, and data science and predictive analytics provide the keys to unlock actionable insights that can drive measurable ROI in your marketing efforts. It’s a competitive advantage that CMOs can’t afford to be without. Today’s CMO can create a valuable bridge between marketing and IT if they develop the right skills and knowledge to provide effective input into technology decisions. Their deep understanding of the buyer journey can help teams assess the technology needs for critical stages in the customer lifecycle.

In turn, with the right technologies and analytics strategies in place, CMOs can gain a holistic view of the customer experience, and more effectively tailor campaigns to achieve key business goals.

Grow your business by leveraging insights from public data

Effective marketing often relies on competitive analysis and consumer research to help identify unmet needs and craft targeted strategies. For Chief Marketing Officers in mortgage, publicly available data compiled through the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) and U.S. Census Bureau can provide a powerful launch point for developing a deeper understanding of their markets and competitors.

Under HMDA, financial institutions are required to provide regulators with data about their mortgage applications and loan originations, as well as purchases of home loans, home improvement loans, and refinancings. Data collected includes variables such as applicant demographics, loan type, property location and type.

Unlocking the value of HMDA data

Forward-thinking mortgage lenders are using HMDA information to identify causes of market-share variance, determine the best product for each market, and gain insight into their competitors’ growth strategies.

How can financial institutions best take advantage of this data? In a recent Scotsman Guide article, Beyond the Arc CEO Steven Ramirez shared how banks can use HMDA data to:

  • Determine the best product for each market segment
  • Gain insight into the competition’s growth strategies
  • Identify causes of market-share variance

Suppose you want to target a specific region with the most relevant lending offers. By analyzing zipcode data and loan type, you can identify the types of financing consumers in a given area have applied for most frequently. You can then develop a strategy to gain a competitive edge, such as promoting a certain type of loan or emphasizing federal home loan programs to attract more first-time homebuyers.

Gain a comprehensive view with Census data

Census data is also publicly available, and includes income, education, and household size, as well as financial details about the residence (e.g., home value, average cost of utilities, real estate taxes) and physical characteristics of housing in a given area (e.g., year built, number of bedrooms, year the owner moved in). Banks can leverage Census data to complement findings from HMDA data to enrich their understanding of the communities they serve.

As an example: Using both HMDA and Census data, you may discover that a competing lender in one of your markets is originating a large number of loans with first-time buyers who are purchasing homes more than 30 years old. Once you’ve identified this trend, you can reassess your strategy in this market. Will you try to compete with the other lender for first-time homebuyers or can you capitalize on a likely need – such as home-equity lines of credit to finance home improvements?

Together, HMDA and Census data paint a more complete picture of your markets to help you identify unmet needs, as well as sources of market-share variance.

Expand your potential with additional data sources

HMDA and Census data only tell part of the customer story, however. To gain a deeper understanding of the patterns revealed in that data, financial institutions should look at other sources of market data such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau complaint database, and customer feedback in social media. These publicly available resources are easy to use — it’s just a matter of asking the right questions to glean useful insights from the data, and then taking action based on those insights. Ask yourself: What’s the problem I’m trying to solve? Armed with data, you can reach a fact-based conclusion that will help you put a plan into action.

Strategic tools for improving customer experience: Personas and Journey Maps

Co-author: Steven Ramirez

customer-journey-maps-user-personasIn building a customer-centric business, personas and journey maps are important strategic tools that help provide an in-depth understanding of who your customers are, what they need, and how they interact with your company across all touch points. But more importantly, for sharing customer insights across the organization, these tools can be critical for building buy-in and helping teams take targeted action to improve customer experience.

To get started, you’ll want a clear understanding of what customer personas are, why they’re important, and what makes a good persona. Once you’ve created your personas, you can take a walk in your customers’ shoes with a journey map.

What are personas?

Personas are fictional, yet believable archetypes you can develop to represent your target customers. They go deeper than generalized customer segments by having individual names and stories that reflect personal attributes and behavioral characteristics such as needs, motivations, attitudes, and pain points.

Why are personas important?

Personas have been commonly used to help organizations develop user-centered design. As focus on customer experience has increased in recent years, personas are gaining popularity as a tool to benefit a wide range of departments across an enterprise from sales and customer service to operations and HR.

Personas can help guide customer-centric practices in various ways:

  • Develop a deeper understanding of your customers

Like Jeff Bezos’ empty chair that represents “the most important person in the room,” personas help you build empathy with your customers. What are their needs and goals? What motivates them? Why do they behave in certain ways?

  • Design processes with the customer in mind

Personas help you understand how your customers interact with your company throughout the entire lifecycle. Do your processes reflect the true customer experience, or do they reflect your internal operations? Personas provide awareness of the many journeys your customers may take, so you can improve them.

  • Build stakeholder buy-in

To build support for an enterprise-wide customer experience initiative, personas – especially those backed with data and research – can help you describe to executives and stakeholders what a better experience should look like.

Tips for creating highly effective personas

  • Align with business objectives to help make your personas powerful tools for teams across the company. Engage key stakeholders to gain diverse perspectives on goals, processes, and issues unique to different lines of business that influence the overall customer experience.
  • Use data and research to identify and inform each of your personas. Market segmentation research, surveys, interviews, and social customer insights are all useful methods. This qualitative research can complement your understanding of how customers behave with insight into the “whys,” providing important nuance and detail that humanize your personas.
  • Bring your personas to life by crafting engaging, first-person narratives that are realistic representations of your target customers. Give each persona a name and photo to help foster a connection to your actual customers. Include a variety of attributes, such as:
    • Demographics: Age, location, education, income, household or family size
    • Personal attributes: Their goals, needs, and interests when they interact with your company
    • Customer lifecycle: How their needs may vary for different channels and touch points, and how their needs may evolve over time
  •  Make them eye-catching and memorable with polished, professional quality photos and information layouts for socializing the personas across your organization. The more “real” you can make them, the more your teams can identify with them and map their own actions and attitudes toward delivering the best possible customer experience.

Using personas to map the customer journey

Once you’ve created distinct personas, you can use them to create customer journey maps that describe each persona’s experience at various touch points during their lifecycle with your company. An effective journey map is based on real research and behavior, and should represent the true customer experience– good or bad. That way you build an accurate picture of where you need to make improvements as well as where opportunities exist for cross-sell and up-sell.

Much of the information for creating a journey map will come from your personas (e.g., their goals, motivations, key tasks they want to accomplish, and current pain points), which is why it’s best to create the personas first.

At each step, the journey map should consider factors such as:

  • Context – Where is the interaction taking place (e.g., in your store, on the phone, online or mobile, in social media) What is going on around the customer? How might their current context influence how they need to interact and what they want to do?
  • Progression – How does each step enable the next?
  • Emotion – How does the customer feel at each step? (e.g., are they engaged, bored, or frustrated?)

With a detailed and insightful customer journey map, your business can more effectively assess current and proposed processes, identify targeted actions to resolve pain points, and leverage opportunities for building stronger customer relationships.

The wins of being customer-centric

Companies can use personas and journey maps to rally employees behind the common goal of improving and optimizing the customer experience. That shared commitment is key to building a customer-centric culture. From there, your organization has the best chance to deliver what your customers want, understand how to exceed their expectations, and create experiences that nurture brand loyalty. Bottom line? Investing in small powerful tools can translate into very big wins for you and your customers.

VOC 1-2-3 :: Strategies for a successful Voice of the Customer program

With increasing competition to retain customers, build brand loyalty, and attract new business, companies of all types are seeking ways to sharpen their focus on the customer experience. Success often relies on having a deep understanding of your customers across every touch point –and that involves listening. That’s where an effective Voice of the Customer (VOC) program can add real value, delivering insights to help you improve customer experience and meet key business objectives.

To build and run a successful VOC program, your approach will evolve along the way, so think about it in three strategic phases: getting a great start, building momentum, and then expanding the potential.

Phase 1: Plan for success

  • Create a Strategic Roadmap: Whether you’re a large financial institution, a retailer, or a utility company, you’ll gain greater value at potentially lower cost if your VOC program starts with a clear game plan.
  • Gain a holistic view of the customer experience: To really understand and improve your customer’s experience, it’s important to develop a complete picture of their relationship with your business. For well-rounded insights, be sure to monitor numerous touch points —capturing both structured data (e.g., surveys and transaction data) and unstructured data (e.g., call center transcripts and customer support email feedback). And don’t forget to track social media, where customers often vent about, or praise, their service experiences. Analyzing both structured and unstructured data provides a richer, more nuanced view of the customer experience. Additionally, it’s a good idea to map the customer experience lifecycle (such as pre-sales vs. servicing) to better understand where and how to make improvements.
  • Be prepared to take action to drive improvements: To ensure you can act on insights gained through VOC analytics, build buy-in for customer experience changes by recruiting champions, influencers, and executives across numerous lines of business. To build the business case, start with small, measurable, pilot efforts. As an example, VOC analytics helped a Top 50 bank uncover numerous customer complaints about being required to make wire transfers in person at banking locations. In response, the bank began offering wire services online, and developed metrics to track the impact of the change.

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Phase 2: Optimize your efforts

  • Discover more by letting the data speak: You’ll gain more value from your VOC efforts by listening to what customers are really saying. By using text analytics to let themes emerge, you unlock the true value of your data. With a more complete picture, you can prioritize targeted improvements that will produce the biggest wins.
  • Increase the relevance of insights with unique business context: Your company likely has a wealth of customer comments from surveys, call centers, email and in-store feedback, and social media—so how do you make the most of it? Find out what’s really driving the comments by engaging team members from various lines of business who understand the issues and can provide important context to help classify customer comments. Root-cause analysis can also help you focus on making changes that will mean the most to customers.
  • Measure the effectiveness of your actions: To confirm the business value of your VOC efforts, you should consistently track the impact of any improvements you make. Define metrics and leverage analytics dashboards to create progress reports you can share with business leaders across the company.

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Phase 3: Take it to the next level

  • Think bigger by multi-purposing customer insights: Increase the power of your Voice of the Customer program by leveraging insights to make improvements in multiple areas. For example, after analyzing millions of customer comments, you might identify key pain points that enable you to triage customers into different support strategies that help strengthen relationships. Expand your perspective to include feedback from frontline employees and other key partners who play a role in shaping the customer experience. This added layer of insight can help you define strategies for new product offerings, training, or other resources that would appeal to customers and grow your business.
  • Increase revenue potential through customer insights: Customer listening can identify more than just the problems; it’s a great way to learn what people value most about your business. From there you can use predictive modeling to classify customer segments most likely to respond to certain promotions, and deliver targeted marketing. You can also leverage VOC analytics to “crowd source” for ideas on how to attract more business. In particular, social media analytics may uncover insights about what people want that you don’t already offer.
  • Build more power into CRM with insights from VOC: Boost the value of your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) program by systematically tracking feedback as part of your customer profiles. By integrating customer comments from multiple touch points into CRM, you can better understand their emotional connection to your brand. It also helps you identify customers who consistently provide positive feedback so you can explore cross-sell or up-sell opportunities, and even engage them to become brand advocates.

To gain the most from your Voice of the Customer program, focus your approach on creative strategies and advanced analytics that help you maximize the value of customer insights. You can use what you learn about customers to drive measurable change across your organization to improve customer experience, strengthen engagement and brand loyalty, and increase the flow of new business.



Privacy concerns with big data marketing

Big Data analysis has been opening up big opportunities for improving targeted marketing to consumers. But how is it affecting their perceptions of privacy? In a recent article in American Banker, Beyond the Arc CEO Steven Ramirez noted that simply having huge amounts of customer data doesn’t necessarily drive greater marketing effectiveness – it’s all in how you use the data.

“Retailers and travel providers use transaction data in their marketing initiatives. Banks already have the data, the question is if they have the data analytics capabilities and the strategic thinking to act on the insights.”

-Steven Ramirez, Beyond the Arc

While collecting and analyzing customer data delivers marketing advantages, the increasing efforts to tap mobile devices and social media is beginning to raise privacy concerns with customers.

By looking at a customer’s spending patterns, geolocation, analyzing social media posts, and other factors, businesses can “connect the dots and understand a lot about a person’s social network,” said Ramirez. It can even inform predictive models for marketing analytics. However, in some cases, customers feel it’s getting too personal.

Avoid the “big brother” effect of mobile tracking

Mobile geolocation data has played a huge part in bringing concerns to a head. Now, when customers walk into a bank or past a restaurant, welcome messages or discounted food specials are sent directly to their phones. How much is too much? When does the “creep factor” come in such that customers feel like they’re simply being watched?

One solution is to help ensure consumers feel like they’re still in control, with the ability to opt in and out. Apple’s iBeacons welcome customers as they walk into their bank branches—but they first have to opt-in for services like this when they install the app.

Be transparent

Above all, one of the most important considerations is how to generate customer confidence –so transparency is key. When capturing data, businesses should give customers a clear and accurate sense of how their information will be used. Help customers understand what to expect about the confidentiality or sharing of their information, and allow them to opt-in or out. In so doing, companies may build greater trust and customers may be more open to their targeted marketing efforts.

Innovative web apps help jumpstart newbie investors


Investment websites that enable consumers to manage their own trading and portfolios online have been around for years. In their wake, many financial advisors have been fighting for business, trying to prove they still add value. Yet they may find that rapid advances in the digital age work in their favor, as investment applications are reaching and teaching younger audiences. If consumers use these online tools to learn the basics of investing, financial advisors can spend more time focusing on delivering strategic value to more seasoned clients, and may experience a wave of new and “better prepared” clients in the coming years.

At Finovate Fall 2014, a multitude of investment web applications were introduced that demonstrated quick and easy ways of investing for consumers who are just getting started.

A fusion of gaming and investing, Kapitall is geared towards a younger generation, and for those who lost faith in the stock market after the dot-com bust. Users can engage on three levels:

    • Practice - use an “imaginary” portfolio to learn the basics of investing.
    • Tournament - the gaming sector where you learn about investing by competing with other Kapitall participants.
    • Live - open a brokerage account and join real-world investors with no minimums or fees.

This “fantasy-football game” for investors is a great way for people to test the waters of investment strategy, and evolve their experience until they’re ready for real-time investing.


As a fee-free, user-friendly web application for everyone, Loyal3 attracts beginners and small investors wanting to get their foot-in-the-door. The Loyal3 website explains investing to newbies, and consumers can invest in the brands they love with as little as $10.00 per stock, fee-free. It provides a great way for anyone to begin their investing journey.


Ever been interested in real estate investment, but have little knowledge of how to get started? Patch of Land understands the challenges of real estate investing, and their website makes it easy for everyone. It’s a peer-to-peer crowdfunding community model that brings together investors and borrowers for sharing real estate investment know-how and funding. It covers many key bases from deal sourcing and due diligence to the legal and financial nuts and bolts of the deals.


Will new tech bring better clients to financial advisors?

While these new investment applications have tremendous potential for gaining a large following, they don’t necessarily push financial advisors aside. Their lives may get easier when fewer potential clients with little experience call with questions like, “Can you teach me everything I need to know?” Advisors may instead benefit from these technologies as a means to weed out the newbie investors who may never retain their services, and focus on the “let’s get started” customers.



Transforming your public relations with content marketing and social media

Traditional news media play an important role in enabling companies to tell their stories. Although broadcast viewing patterns have changed, according to consumer research from Gallup more than half of Americans still cite television as their main source of information about current events. Remarkably, this holds as true for an 18-year-old Millennial as it does for a 49-year-old Gen X-er.

interview_reporter_television_camera_350x234However, as the Pew Research Center notes, “Online and digital news consumption, meanwhile, continues to increase, with many more people now getting news on cell phones, tablets or other mobile platforms.” How should companies act on these insights to ensure the highest levels of engagement with customers and critical stakeholders?

In research conducted by Pew, they document the steady erosion in the frequency in which people watch the local news. In 2006, 18- to 29-year olds said they “regularly watch” local news. By 2012, only 28% of young people said they regularly watched, a decline of -14% over the period.

The growing importance of digital channels and social media
As you might expect, people of all ages are following the news on their mobile device. Pew notes that at least one-in-five Americans (17%) got news on their cell phones yesterday. Among smartphone users, it was nearly a third (31%).

Social media is inextricably linked to mobile, and there has been a corresponding leap in the share of social network users that saw news via a social platform. According to Pew, 55% of Americans access the internet via a mobile device, and 30% of those people saw news on a social networking site yesterday.

3 strategies to increase the value of earned media
As the relationship that people have with traditional media continues to evolve, there are three social media strategies that savvy communicators can leverage.

1) Drive engagement via content marketing
The hallmark of social media is that conversations drive engagement. Interesting and valuable content is the fuel that drives the conversation. For PR, media relations, and other communicators this calls for a systematic approach to content marketing. As we explained in a recent article:

Effective content marketing is basically the development of useful information to educate customers and prospects, without any hard sell. For most businesses, the goal is to provide value that informs and inspires people to learn more about the company’s products and services –with content often delivered through blog posts, case studies, whitepapers, and articles. – Read more

2) Use social listening to understand customer preferences and discover unmet needs
With digital communications, people expect an experience that is tailored to their needs. Is your brand like the guy at the backyard barbeque who spends the whole day talking shop? Make sure your media relations team knows how to listen; listening in social media is critical to success.

With a social media listening effort, communicators can learn what’s most relevant to various audiences, and tailor their outreach to audiences most likely to respond positively. And don’t forget to track what people are saying about your competitors: you may find opportunities to meet the needs of unsatisfied consumers to win their business. – Read more

3) Transform negative sentiment into a winning customer experience
News travels fast via social and mobile channels, particularly bad news. With the social conversation, people will be quick to point out the inconsistencies between your media relations messaging and the way your company conducts business. Managing negative sentiment isn’t just a task for customer service, it requires a close partnership with news relations, public affairs, marketing, and other communicators. Check out a few tips for responding to negative social posts:

When customers have a bad experience, they’re often more connected to how they FEEL about it, than the issue itself. That’s why you need to sharpen your focus on how people react to your business. Timely and effective communications can help you manage negative sentiment, rebuild trust, and promote loyalty. – Read more

Traditional broadcast and print media outlets remain highly effective means to reach customers and community influencers. However, as social media usage grows, and social networks expose people to news stories, professional communicators face new challenges. To generate positive engagement they need to spark conversations about their brand, develop and execute content marketing strategies that reinforce their media pitches, and work with internal business partners to listen for—and act on– negative feedback. More than ever, effective public relations calls for a multidisciplinary and strategic approach.

Money20/20 Update: Future of data and security in banking payments

Check out the latest highlights from the Money 20/20 event in Las Vegas. Beyond the Arc CEO Steven Ramirez talks about key ideas in VISA’s keynote, and new trends in data and security technologies that will impact the customer experience.


Money20/20 Update: New tech and top trends in payments

What’s new and innovative in the world of payments? That’s what the standing-room-only crowds are wondering at Money20/20 in Las Vegas today. It’s a full house of C-level execs, big investors, industry insiders, analysts, bankers, you name it — and it’s buzzing with exciting insights. We’re hearing about everything from personalized nano-tech to verify your ID for payment, to trends on how millenial consumers seek financial advice.

Check out a quick recap of highlights with Beyond the Arc, CEO Steven Ramirez, and PR guru William Mills of the William Mills Agency.

End of day coverage from Monday

Monday morning coverage from Money 20/20