The Customer is the New CEO: The Future of Finance & Embracing Digital Acceleration Through Cognitive Computing

The undercurrents of social media began to create a slow shift in the last decade, a shift that is now being felt like a tremor across all industries, including the financial sector. Clayton M. Christensen of Harvard Business brought clarity to this:

When a company identifies how to integrate the processes needed to give the consumer a sense of job completion, it can blow away the competition. A product is easy to copy, but experiences are very hard to replicate .

It’s a call for companies to align internally and truly embrace their customer, while making the customer experience relevant. Yet, for decades we’ve existed within this Marketing Myopia, with the goal to make a sale, irrespective of the customer need. The call-to-action was relevant when information was limited.

Today we don’t have the luxury of time.

Human attention is the fastest rising natural limited resource.

This experience economy is also challenging business 1) to keep up to the speed of their customer’s life 2) to respond to customers in a timely manner 3) all the while, trying to garner their attention.

Loyalty is fleeting these days. Technology is enabling a greater awareness of how companies are servicing customer demands. Consumer expectations continue change. A financial services organization is more than willing to take on the administration to onboard a customer that will appear seamless for the customer. The long-standing customer relationship now can be tenuous.

The average tenure of a bank customer is 9 years. The time it takes to lose a customer can be as little as 9 minutes.

If the financial services industry wants to continue to drive affinity with its customers, it needs to:

  • embrace and acquiesce to the new customer mindset
  • evolve the existing systems and communications that aren’t in sync with the market expectation

Customer centricity means mutual affinity, value and accountability. A branch manager built that relationship with you, offered you a school loan in college, helped you open your first bank account, then offered you insurance and protection products as your family grew. This created mutual affinity.

As digital and functionality replaced much of this individualized relationships, we may have relied on customer value metrics that were scalable like recency, frequency and monetization. To be competitive, we need to combine the front-line advantage to scale.  While the branch employee preserved this relationship, the new banking customer prefers to do their banking on their desktop or phone, which makes it more difficult to drive more customer value.

Financial Services have an advantage over any other sector: they can bank on the customer transacting and they can leverage cross-sell opportunities. Today, gaining attention, we must use the call-to-emotion at the right moment when message is most relevant. At, we call this the Window of Opportunity (WOO).

Companies investing in their next generation engagement strategy can gain the coveted customer attention by acknowledging the power of cognitive computing. Cognitive computing has the ability to marry the structured data sources and classifications with the more unstructured, more nuanced insights that present a much different customer profile than we are used to seeing.

With the abundance of data that continues to perpetuate by the millisecond, the ability to connect the dots among structured and unstructured files and disparate data continues to challenge financial services. Cognitive data can correlate and make sense of data – given all these challenges – and turn them into knowledge. This is knowledge that can be presented when the customer needs it. In order to enable this requires more capability than what exists today. No human can crunch this much data from disparate data sources and surface meaningful information in the time required.

Here are some key facts worth considering:

  1. New methods are arising that create opportunities for greater service and trust with customers: like alternative credit scoring, ranking to assess commercial loan applications, and content strategies for advisors to build customer confidence with their portfolios.
  2. Now apps for messaging can offer a personalized communication channel. With mobile applications integrating text bots, the business can communicate with the customer with greater context.

Brand equity is the currency measuring the effectiveness of your brand. Turning data into micro-moments (the stuff that happens everyday) that can, in turn, be injected at the customer’s speed of life, gives financial services a greater competitive edge.

It is our core belief that if we Democratize Data Science to all levels of the organization, we make individuals more productive and more accountable, and therefore develop a stronger workforce. By uncovering micro-moments at scale we enable organizations to truly embrace customer centricity. This ensures you have the ability to effectively answer business questions and confidently connect the dots among your disparate systems.

As an agnostic vendor, we focus on the customer first and always. The industry understands data. They understand customer value. Eventually significant changes in operations, in process and cultural mindset will be necessary in order keep up with the customer. It’s slowly getting there.

This article first appeared at the Future Finance Executive Summit sponsored by DX3 and CollectiveIQ.

Photo Credit: thienan01 Flickr via Compfight cc