Community bankers believe personal relationships and superior service are what differentiate their financial institution from megabanks and non-traditional competition. Simultaneously, declining branch traffic has resulted in fewer opportunities for bankers to meet customers face to face to foster those high-touch personal relationships. How can you counteract disruption from non-bank financial institutions and the changes in how customers prefer to conduct business? The answer is just a few clicks away.

Banks have an overwhelming amount of customer data, but how can you get to that valuable customer information? Your customer base is rich with opportunities to expand and retain relationships that already exist; however, this source is often left untapped due to the antiquated and siloed systems that result in fragmented customer data.

Having access to data analytics that aggregate customer data and provide an in-depth, holistic picture of each customer can solve that conundrum. Gathering this information enables you to quickly determine which segments are the most appropriate to target for different products and services, thereby enhancing your customer relationships and ultimately increasing revenue.

For example, what percentage of your bank’s deposit or loan customers maintain only one account with your bank? Better yet, do you know who these customers are? Do they use other “sticky” services? The challenge most banks face is in determining how to extract this treasure trove of data into meaningful information and then what to do with it once it has been unearthed. All it takes is a willingness to embrace innovative technology with the right analytics tools and data strategy to mine information about your highest value or highest potential customers.

Analytics tools enable you to dive deeper into customer relationships and behaviors. Behavioral insights are a fundamental building block to understanding the flow of money for currency transaction and suspicious activity reporting. These same concepts can also be used to strategize the focus of sales, marketing, and customer retention efforts to meet each customer’s unique needs.

Having these insights will enable your front-line personnel to specifically direct sales efforts towards strategic objectives such as broadening single or limited service relationships. With performance information available with just one click, you can make timely and better-informed decisions. Sales and marketing efforts can be based on up-to-date information. Branch staff can personalize conversations, messaging, and cross-sell efforts toward products and services customers actually need.

Imagine having these insights readily available to reinforce sales efforts or to personalize your bank’s marketing efforts especially to customers who seldom visit a branch office and prefer to conduct all banking transactions digitally. This poses the question – what can, and will you do with the information once you have it readily available? You must develop a strategy because, without a clear vision, your plan may not yield the desired results.

How Can You Better Know Your Customers?

Providing exceptional customer service is paramount; however, attracting and retaining customers in a competitive landscape is equally important. As technology becomes more robust and customer buying habits shift, your financial institution must constantly explore new ways to not only meet the demands of today’s savvy customers but to be proactive in anticipating what they may need as well. Much like Amazon suggests products that may be of interest based on buying habits, your institution should embrace the same philosophy. Here are six basic steps that can help you determine how to best meet your customers’ needs.

Evaluate systems and report writing capabilities The data you need live in your core and ancillary systems, and the volume is overwhelming. The time it takes to accurately mine the data into reports can be daunting and labor-intensive. Determine if your bank has a viable means to extract the data and transform it into meaningful and actionable information.

Your competitive advantage is your existing customer base

Without access to data analytics, your bank cannot take advantage of this competitive edge. The best analytics tools provide multiple visuals with a significant amount of potentially actionable data instantaneously. Having access to data analytics enables you to make quicker and more accurate decisions as you no longer have to wait for a report to be written and/or generated to provide routine information.

Review your bank’s strategic objectives; align the data mining focus to support these goals

If core deposit growth is a strategic objective, ensure you can mine data that identifies loan customers who do not have deposit accounts. Or, if the goal is checking account retention, you will want to easily identify and track accounts that do not have a direct deposit or are not using ACH, debit card, mobile banking, or bill pay services.

Adopt an enterprise approach to using data analytics

The C-suite should drive expectations for data use. Consistent reinforcement from them sets the objectives for the sales environment and culture. Data strategies and expectations for using data must be communicated and prioritized by your bank’s leaders. Inconsistent, siloed data use could jeopardize the desired sales culture.

Personalize marketing and sales efforts

Once the data is in an actionable format, use specific customer information to target the market and personalize sales conversations. High-touch sales efforts become more meaningful when personalized.

Train personnel on how to use the information once it is provided

Supplying personnel with multiple reports or turning on a data analytics tool is only one step in the process. Assess your bank’s sales environment and provide training consistent with your culture to ensure everyone embraces data as an enterprise-asset and understands how to use it most effectively.

By adhering to these simple steps, you will find that your data does contain most of the information for which you are looking to ensure your financial institution stands out from the rest with enhanced personal relationships and superior service. That will in turn differentiate your institution from today’s megabanks and non-traditional competition.