Hello and welcome to Banking Transformed, the top podcast in retail banking. I'm your host, Jim Marous, founder and CEO of the Digital Bank Report and co-publisher of the Financial Brand.
Financial institutions must accelerate their data and insights to improve customer satisfaction. By harnessing the power of AI-based personalization, banks can deliver the most relevant information, advice, offers and products at scale, and in compliance, to drive revenues.
It's time for banks and credit unions to finally realize the value of their extensive proprietary database. It's time to understand what each customer wants and needs, providing contextual offers instantly. It's also time to empower your employees to use data for your customer's benefit.
I'm excited to have Devin Poole, product marketing manager from Coveo, on the Banking Transformed podcast. Devin shares how banks and credit unions can increase your NPS while reducing cost, finding opportunities to increase revenue, and grow customer loyalty.
More than ever, financial institutions must deliver consistently relevant information at each touchpoint of the customer's journey. This requires authentic personalization delivered at scale on every channel. The use of AI allows organizations to learn from every customer interaction using profiles and relationship trends to offer up relevant content and recommendations where and when the customer wants it.
So Devin, when we talk about customer relationships with financial institutions today compared to what they were 2, 5, 10 years ago, what's changed?
Yeah, I mean the biggest thing, Jim, that's changed is they're less sticky than they used to be. That it's easier to change over. You've got a lot of disruption in the industry from fintech players who are sort nibbling away at the edges of traditional transaction banking accounts, that more and more people are starting to adopt and adapt as their norm for how they make payments.
I'm still old enough to remember the days when you'd go in and you'd give someone an actual, physical check. Now you pay people by Venmo, by Zelle, or Chase QuickPay or something like that. So in terms of ... It's also, it's not surprising, way more digital than it used to be. The relationship that we have between consumers, between small businesses, high net worth individuals, and their financial institutions, it is digital. It's based on that these days.
Well it's interesting because the digital aspect really provides advantages and disadvantages. Number one, with digital we can certainly open up and engage with customers more and easier than ever before. Digital also gives us a lot more insight that we can use to build better relationships.
On the other hand, as you mentioned, the ability to open and switch accounts has never been easier. And I think a lot of financial institutions still look at the legacy way of looking at attrition and saying, "Has the customer actually left?" Well, customers don't leave anymore. But what they do is they open other accounts elsewhere. So while digital gives you the ability to build better relationships, those relationships are needed more than ever because it's easier for the person to diversify their holdings.
So what is the biggest barrier for financial institutions in trying to create these hyper-personalized relationships? Because while we talk about it really a lot in interviews we've done, in webinars I do, in writing I do, we're really talking a bigger game than we're actually playing. So what's the biggest barrier that you see in trying to implement really good personalized solutions?
Yeah, I think you're absolutely right that people don't just leave you outright. It's what we used to call death by a thousand duck bites. I don't know if you've ever heard that term-
... before. But little by little, "I stopped spending less on credit card A because I've opened credit card B." And one of the biggest barriers for a lot of organizations is their ability to recognize those signals and recognize them digitally, to understand what customers are looking for, to understand their intent when they come on to a digital property. Years and years I supported heads of retail banks, heads of commercial banks, wealth management organizations, insurers, and we talk about what's the hardest thing. It's about recognizing what customers are trying to do, what they want, and then taking those signals that customers give us and using contextual information to compare those to the signals that others have given.
And that's what customers come to expect these days. They expect you to know them but also to know what they're looking for and what they don't know they don't know. And that's where we focus in on relevance. Relevance isn't just about getting the right information, it's about getting information that's meaningful and valuable, based on where I am as a customer in my journey. Whether it's my life stage, "Hey, I've just had a new child, I'm going to have to know different things that than I ever have before." Like, what in the heck was a 529? I didn't know that before I had kids, but now I know all about those things. And so understanding where I am and providing not just meaningful but valuable information. Something that makes me say, "Oh, I want to know more about that."
It's interesting, because COVID really made it so that anybody who wasn't aware of how digital organizations used data, analytics, AI to drive better engagements really became aware of it. Number one, with Amazon. Obviously as you said, when I change my buying habits, Amazon recognizes and prompts me with other things I may need. They realize if you buy diapers via Amazon, that you probably have a repetition process and they're going to build that into their recommendation saying, "You know, you bought this about a week and a half ago. And is it time to buy them again?"
The same thing happens when you use the more advanced streaming services, a Netflix or a Hulu, where instead of you having to record things ahead of time, you can catch them when you want, but they're going to recommend, "Oh by the way, if you watch this, you probably want to watch that."
And consumers suddenly understand that, "Oh geez, if I use Instacart, they start telling me that I don't have to inform them more than once about the kind of, what I want my bananas to look like or how ripe I want my fruits or vegetables to be. I don't have to tell them twice to do anything." That's not been the experience in banking.
So when you talk about data and analytics and AI, Coveo works with 50 organizations, financial institutions, globally, and you've seen a lot of growth in this space, obviously. What are you hearing from clients around their strategic priorities as it relates to data and AI? And I'm going to add a little item here too, not just what they're saying, but what you see them doing. Because there is, at least our research shows, there's often a gap between where they put it on a priority list and where they actually do things. So how have you seen that in the marketplace?
Yeah, so much of it these days is about competition and competing in an experience-based economy. So how do we build the new generation of relationship banking that happens when customers are fickle, customers are influenced by other organizations like a Netflix and Amazon and Instacart? And what we're starting to work with a lot of organizations to do is that they're looking at a couple of core things, right? First and foremost it's a bit of cost. We mainly support customer service and support customer experience leaders where they're saying, "We've got to deliver against cost initiatives first."
And for a decade it's been win-win where customers want to serve themselves, they want to get information digitally, and that happens to be the most cost efficient thing for financial services organizations. So that's great, it's an absolute win-win.
But often in how they deliver that is where it gets tricky just doing a basic search and having that return with keywords. Sure, maybe it's keywords, maybe I've only typed in mortgage and then you get 900 and something results and it doesn't know what state I'm in, it doesn't know the regulations where I am, it doesn't know if I already have a mortgage. It's like all of those things. What we're seeing people start to do when it comes to actually applying AI is understanding where this customer is so that you can make the next best recommendation for them. And that doesn't need to be a new product that you're trying to sell. It has to be something that is valuable to that customer and valuable in a way that allows them to think, "Wow, I'm at the right institution, this bank gets me, this insurance company gets me, they know what I need."
So if it is contextualizing, just showing me, your Amazon example's a great one, and they're one of the best at this. And we would say that Coveo's right up there in that same league. Because often what happens at Amazon is, I don't know if you've ever had this experience, you've searched for something ... In fact, my eight year old just twisted her ankle last week. I had to get her an Aircast walking boot. Of course I did it on Amazon because that's where you go for everything. And now I'm continuing to get ads for Aircast walking boots even though I've already bought one. It's like, I don't need two, at least I hope I don't need two. If my daughter twists her other ankle, well we're in bigger problems than that. But the idea is they continue to show you that. Whereas, it needs to have, and where we're helping organizations and see them applying a lot of interesting learnings is the more data they can plug into the machine learning model, the more that you can see behaviors of others.
So this is the "People like you also looked at these things." So a great example, working with a very large bank in the US, they went through back-to-school season. And you can start to see lots of student credit cards being taken out, people sending their kids off to university for the first time, get them their first credit card and then you can pop articles that say things like, "Well is it better to put the kid on your card or get them their own card? What are the pros and cons?" And then the next time they visit, it's not about just this interaction, it's the next interaction that happens. Well, we can pop up something that says, "You ought to look at our budgeting tool. You ought to see how to effectively manage credit card debt." Because who amongst us hasn't spent a little more than they might have wanted to on their parents' credit card their first semester of university? Certainly not me.
So that that's the idea, is that it's about building this continuous, continued engagement with that customer, understanding them and helping to have that back and forth relationship that again, you would've had if that person was coming into the branch very regularly, but people aren't doing that anymore. Branch foot traffic's down forever.
It's interesting, you opened up a whole lot here. Number one, and I saw this on your website and in discussions with your team, is you really look at the application of data analytics and AI as a service function as opposed to a sales opportunity. Now they could be one and the same, because if I'm looking at houses and you offer me some services that relate to mortgages and that becomes a sales opportunity. However, if I've just bought a house and you offer me recommendations on how to, let's say, insure it, what I should possibly buy to protect it or maybe even just to put enough furniture in the house, those are service functions.
And I thought that was interesting because I really think we look so much at the ROI or the efficiency of things. We forget that we're really moving from experiences to engagements. You mentioned this also in your last answer in that we're really looking to say, "How many different ways can we engage with the customer?" As opposed to simply saying, "How do we improve the experience?" The experience is the bigger picture, but how you get that engagement level, how you keep that relationship, that loyalty, how you avoid the disintermediation remediation of your possible relationships is through the engagement.
So what do you see as the biggest difference between the concept of experience and that of engagement?
To me engagement's an outcome. That's something that happens, that builds over time, that you naturally get that back and forth. And it's the customer wanting to continue to come back to you, being interested in the things that you're getting. And getting, you talked about the ROI and of course that's the ROI from the organizational level, what do we get as a company, but what's the ROI for the customer? How you get that engagement is by delivering great experiences. And those experiences are first and foremost effortless. Make it easy for me to get the things that I need but then those experiences have to add value to that customer's day to day. Either teach me something I didn't know, educate me on a better way to do business with you, a smarter way to use you. So it may be something as simple as, "We noticed you've come online a lot and you're doing a lot of banking through the web portal but did you know can download the app and then we can send you alerts and we can send you notifications and updates?"
And it could be something as simple as just popping a notification that says, "Hey the weather's about to drop, we're in autumn here in the north and it's about to turn cold. Don't forget to turn off the hose and disconnect it, lest it freeze and burst your pipes." Those types of things that has nothing to do with banking, but it's engaging me in something I care about, which is my house. Which, by the way, you own 70 something percent of as the bank. So both, it's a win-win and a mutual vested interest for both of these organizations. So that's how you drive engagement, that's the outcome, the back and forth. Experiences get you there.
So it's interesting, the way you're talking about this. One of the advantages that your firm has is working with so many financial institutions. You can take case studies, you can take success stories and you can deploy them across your entire customer base without breaking any kind of nondisclosure agreements. Because the reality is if we can raise the overall tide, we're going to benefit everybody. And everybody learns from that. And we're still on the starting points. We've used AI in the financial services industry forever in the security risk area. We're just starting to touch the surface on how it can be used for customer service, for sales, for integration and applications. And it's so important for institutions to realize we got to go this last mile, we got to really deploy these insights. Because I mentioned it often on this podcast that if I went to the bank that handles my personal account, I would be amazed at how much they know about me.
However, I am even more amazed on how little they tell me they know about me or have me involved in that. Because the reality is I don't care how good your reports are within A, B or C bank. What I really care about is how you're using everything about me to make my life easier.
Now one thing you talk about quite a bit at your organization is the ability to not just drive, use data and insights within the organization itself to make banking better internally and to make the customer experience better, but actually the deployment of insights across the organization to make employee lives better. Can you explain a little bit about that?
Yeah, I'm so glad you brought it up because when it comes down to the experience, that there's two types of experience, there's certainly the customer experience and that gets the lion's share of the attention from leaders. But there's also the employee experience. Banks and insurers are facing a huge, oh, what's the best way to phrase it? I don't want to use the term war for talent, but they're facing-
A talent crisis. There's no doubt about it. There's a talent crisis.
Exactly. It's a talent crisis because people are leaving. Turnover's always been high, but it's harder to replace people, it's more costly to replace people. And by the way, you need to upskill them quickly.
So a couple of the ways that we're applying this internally is one, we have a huge partnership with Salesforce. We're one of the top partners within the Salesforce service cloud and financial service cloud environment. And when you're able to put the right information in front of reps, they can get to the thing that they're trying to do faster, they can learn quicker. And most importantly, because we can see this across what's happening in a large contact center environment, thousands of people, at one point we're sitting in one office, now we're distributed, some of them are coming back to the office. But the ability to learn from what's been helpful to your peers. So that that's the pointiest end of it. When you can upskill your frontline really quickly by getting them the information that has been known to be helpful to others facing that similar situation.
The second thing is internally, for the content management folks, being able to understand what your content gaps are. What are the things that reps are looking for that we don't have? Or what are the things they're looking for where the top four or five answers that we're giving them aren't the thing that they're clicking on? That should tell us when we need to update things. That should tell us when information isn't solving a problem. And that way you create this virtuous cycle of testing and learning in a way about your content without actually having to be on the front line, talking to people, reading about it. You start to see your content coming up as "Wow, this is the thing we ought to fix." And you can be very, very focused with your time.
And then the last one is, of course, understanding what it is your customers are looking for. Understanding what are they searching for, understanding, what are they clicking on, understanding where are they going so that you're able to build reports and share back things to product organizations, to marketing organizations, to really build on the value of all of the data that service sits on. Because there's no one who knows more about their customers than the service function. And when you're able to use those analytics to make data-driven decisions about what your next product should be, where you might want to invest, what's stopping your customers from self-serving? That is hugely valuable to the organization. And that's something that needs to be spread organization wide, not just kept within the service function.
You know, you reference it. And the better we get at applying data and analytics and AI to understanding the customer better, the less worried employees have to be around being dispersed, being let go. I don't think there's an employee in a traditional bank today that doesn't say, "Jesus, my job is at risk because of technology." The reality is the customer has said, "We want humanized engagements, even though we want the technology to be behind it."
So let's say all the, and I've mentioned in just on previous podcast, but let's say your customer care people in a branch, who were hired because of their great personalities in working with customers. Those branches are, in many cases, virtually empty. If we gave these people the tools to reach out to their customers that are assigned to their branches who they used to see regularly and have them verbally engage with them and say, "By the way, based on what we've seen you do recently, this may be a good idea," using the exact same things.
If we become too digital, when it all becomes a if-this-then-that, we're going to end up in trouble. On the other hand, as you said on the employee experiences, if we allow the employees, if we democratize the data across the organization so that everybody has a view on the customer, the customer's not going to feel like it's big brother. The reality is they've already experienced this at Amazon, at Hulu, Netflix, at Disney. I mean, the characters that walk the streets have information about your family and have information about the demographics of your group to know exactly how to engage with you. They're going to engage with a little child of eight years old, your eight-year old, then they're going to do it with your couple month old. They're certainly going to do it differently if there's two adults that love Disney.
And we forget this in the financial service industry, we put all these horror stories out there, "Well if we do this then this is going to happen, it doesn't." The customer is educating themselves based on what they know.
Bringing this back to the strategic level, how does this support the employee and the customer goals? How does this support the company goals around customer engagement, but more importantly, financial empowerment and wellbeing?
What you're talking about there is kind of what I always refer to as the cool/creepy line. It's a very fine line and it's cool when things about me that are helpful to me. It's creepy when it feels like you know too much. But if the things that you are telling me are helpful, are valuable to me, I'm always going to fall on the cool side of that line. And so that's what companies need to do.
It's so great you bring up the idea of financial empowerment, financial wellbeing as a lot of experts are predicting we could very well be heading into a recession. Think of what happened around 2008, rewind just a little bit further to 2007. No one was thinking about these things and financial services organizations were a little bit guilty of just letting people walk up to that financial cliff and walk right off.
Now what you can start to do is use what you know about that customer to become prescriptive, to become proactive, to start to show them tools that are good for them. Back to something like the idea of a budget management tool. If you start to see that a paycheck is no longer coming in regularly anymore, if you're starting to see spending habits go way off from where they used to be, maybe your limit on your credit card, your balance has gone up significantly and you're carrying a much higher balance month to month you can say, "Hey look, there are options that we have." There are ways that we can push that this information over to you without having to have a provider like Coveo. We don't need to touch PCI information in order to understand that because it can flow through other data sources that the company has to say, "Hey, this is what we need to recommend on the website, this is what this customer needs to see." And that's great.
And it happens across the board. It's about, again, at that strategic level, creating this unified experience for customers. That means I've got digital interactions, digital engagement, and that can flow over to a human engagement. So I might do X, Y, and Z on the website and then that should be able to flow into the branch. And the branch employee can say, "Hey, you know what? We should have a meeting about this. Let's sit down and talk through budgeting with you."
And that's a huge opportunity for the organization to draw its customers in closer, and take actions that are good for both organizations. Like you don't want customers going under on mortgages or credit cards or defaulting here and there. Instead you want those customers to perform great wellbeing activities for their own financial health. And the more that you can proactively reach out to those customers, the better it's going to be.
As we talk about data analytics, AI, we're really talking about just improving our knowledge of the customer at the deepest level. But at the same time we have to balance that with privacy and security regulations and things we have to do where we're not going over the line. I know one of the roles that Coveo does is they really help the finance institutions stay within the parameters of what's legally able to be done, what's regulatorily able to be done and how you meet compliance regulations.
How do you work with finance institutions? Obviously it benefits you greatly that you have so many clients that are in the financial services space. But how do you work with financial institutions to help them understand the rules, not just from a, "Don't go over this line," but "oh by the way, you can get a lot further in this engagement than you are. We know what the rules are?"
So we are compliant with SOC 2. We're compliant with HIPAA for health insurers that we work with. But what we don't touch is we don't need to touch transactional or customer-identifying data. In fact, the number of things that we can do with anonymous sessions from the website is huge, just understanding what someone is looking at and what others have looked at before.
So we offer robust security protocols and more robust to our financial services clients, allowing them the opportunity to work with us hand in hand. It's the most important thing for a financial services organization that they don't experience data insecurity. So in that aspect, we're going to be a partner that is going to work with you in a two-way street because obviously it's good for both organizations when that happens. And so the most sensitive data that organizations have isn't data that we need to do our job effectively. But where we can work with you is to help to build machine learning models utilizing data across the different streams and silos that organizations have.
Financial services companies are as guilty as any organization of keeping their data separate and siloed. And the ability to pull across those different streams, that's a huge, untapped opportunity for a lot of companies. So just that, to index all of these different sources and then essentially make whatever you have searchable, that is huge. To be able to say, "Wow, now what we're able to look across these different systems, these different data warehouses, different data lakes that we didn't have the ability to do in one unified way before." So helping them to realize that the power that their data holds, helping banks to better understand what's potentially possible and also what are their customers trying to do. Because there's a lot that you're still scratching the surface on. And of course, as we continue to work with companies, we will continue to innovate year over year over year.
So we're the longest standing player in this space, which means that we've analyzed billions more data points than anyone else and that allows us to just continue to learn and go forward and get smarter as we go.
It's interesting, when we're looking at this whole journey around deploying data and AI for better service and engagement opportunities and experiences, I kind of liken it to a marathon. It's a long road. There's a lot to be done. We have the entire marathon to go. But Leah, my producer, is a marathon runner and I think she would say sometimes the hardest part is just starting, just getting it started. Because the road's going to look daunting, but it gets shorter as you go along.
So if you're talking to a bank or a credit union today, how did they get started? Because in much the same way as a marathon, you sometimes get boggled by, "Oh my god, there's so much I have to do." And you just don't move forward. You get hampered by the massiveness of it all.
If you were going to recommend, and let's say you were going to change your hat and you were going to go work for a smaller financial institution, where would you say they need to start?
One of the first things to start with is your people, your frontline reps who are taking calls, chats, emails, day in, day out. The more that you can empower them, that's one of the quickest wins that you can start to see, making their jobs their lives easier because all-
Which helps the customer.
Yeah, exactly. It's one of those things that when your rep is having a high effort experience, your customer's going to feel it. They feel it through silence when that person's furiously searching and multi screening, "Which system is this in? Where is that piece of information?" And then you hear it through the, "Let me get back to you." And it's like you just erode the confidence that that customer has in whatever answer you give them.
So you can start with your people really quickly because all the information's internal. It's about indexing that information and pulling it from all of those different systems into one area that sits right within the CRM that you use. So whether it's Salesforce or SAP, Zendesk, all things that we've got built-in integrations for, you're able to really quickly put that information in the hands of your people and put it in their hands in ways that is useful, in ways that is helpful.
So using things like smart snippets, you've probably seen and experienced those on Google when you type, "When was the Battle of Hastings?" and it pops up with just the information. "It was 1066." And that's the type of thing that you're like, "Oh that's the exact information that I'm looking for."
Think of all of the lengthy documentation that we have at 00:33:49], credit unions, insurers, wealth management. We're not short on how long we can make a document. So the ability to find something directly within that document to then get that answer down. In fact, I was talking to a Fortune 100 insurer who we work with where they were able to cut employee search time down by 65% after deploying the solution internally. And what that does, it's not that you're going to make these calls, let's just say calls, it could be chats, you're not going to make these interactions 65% shorter.
Sure, you'll give some time back. You want to make them a little bit shorter, but rather it's not how much time you spend, it's how you spend the time with your customer. Are you spending that time reading and looking for information internally where you're putting that person on a hold or there's dead air on the phone? Or are you spending that time actually having a conversation with that customer? And that's what you want to do. You reduce the time that I'm looking for information and you repurpose that time into having a more engaging, meaningful, thoughtful, and purposeful conversation with that customer.
So that that's one of the first use cases that we'll start to see people go out. Not only because it's so important to engage our talent today because of what you said, it's so important for the knock-on effects that the customer experience gets that much better, especially as you're handling the most complex questions that customers are bringing to phone, to chat these days.
The other is, of course, around self-service and making sure that customers find the right information quickly. It's not that the information isn't there, it's that customers can't find it. One of the main reasons customers fail in a self-service interaction is due to site navigation. They couldn't find the thing that they were looking for. And that's where it is doubly painful because it was there, the customer tried to get it and then they failed. And then they're very likely going to have to pick up the phone or chat and they're going to start all over again. And we all know that's the worst thing to do as a customer.
So making sure that they find that information, building that digital first engagement with the customer and putting search as one of the first things that you see, that's what we're all used to. What do you do when you have a problem these days? Well, you Google it. And so what do you want to do when you're dealing with some sort of company? You want to search for those things. And if I can't find it, if it's not returning the right result, if it's based on keyword search and not cognitive search like we deployed, then it's never going to be as effective as it could be.
And so your customers are going to say, "Ah, this is too hard. I'm just going to give up. I'm going to call 1-800-COST-YOU-MONEY and then I'm going to have a worse experience and if I get a couple of those in a row, I'm probably going to look for other options that are out there.
So finally, we've talked a lot here and we've talked about a lot of different solutions that are really cutting edge, but also very basic in their deployment of what has to be done. Can any size organization take advantage of your services?
The short answer to that, Jim, is yes, we can work with any size organization. Of course, large organizations are going to have more data, the more data, the smarter that this system gets. So that's where we've been focusing a lot of our time and attention. And that's where we see a lot of engagement coming to us proactively, large organizations reaching out and saying, "Hey, we want to take advantage of all of the data that we have help to make us smarter in the way that we engage with our customers and with our people." But that same model works across all size organizations.
Devin, I really appreciate the time today, you shared a lot and I think there's still a lot to uncover, but how do organizations get a hold of you?
Yeah, simplest way is to hop onto coveo.com, take a look through the site, you'll see information, case studies, videos, all the great things there. And then, of course, click book some time with one of our people. We want to be able to have conversations. It's not just let us demo you to death. It is, let's have a conversation, let's make sure this fits with your organization's goals and that's where it starts. Let's understand what you are trying to do. When we understand what a company is trying to do, we can effectively deploy the right solution and we can help that company to meet those larger targets that they're trying to get around cost, around customer experience, around employee experience and that way we'll be able to be far more prescriptive in what we recommend for you.
Devin, thanks a lot for your time today and look forward to talking to you again.
Yeah, thanks for having me on, Jim. Always a pleasure and look forward to speaking soon.
Thanks for listening to Banking Transformed, the winner of three international awards for podcast excellence. If you enjoyed today's show, please give our show a five star rating on your favorite podcast platform. Also be sure to catch my recent articles on the Financial Brand and the research we're doing for the Digital Banking Report.
This has been a production of Evergreen Podcasts. A special thank you to our producer, Leah Haslage, audio engineer Sean Ro Hoffman and video producer Will Pritz. I'm your host, Jim Marous.
Until next time, remember, creating a personalized experience goes beyond just knowing a name. It requires knowing what a customer needs before they even know they need it.