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Banks Beef Up Data-Gathering in Bid to Personalize Service

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Wells Fargo and the online lingerie store True&Co have something in common: both are using analytics to intensely personalize their service.

One of the largest financial institutions in America and an online undergarment company were name dropped during the same forum session hosted by Forrester Research Tuesday as illustrations of how old and young companies are better using data to improve the customer experience. 

Tony Costa, a senior analyst with Forrester Research, recognized the San Francisco bank for its ATM software, which was updated last year to remember and display what transactions a customer most commonly performs. Now, a bank customer who regularly withdraws $40 will see a green "favorite" button in the main menu that lets him accomplish the task with a single tap, for example. The effort is twofold: quicken a popular transaction while also showing the customer the bank knows him.

Likewise, Costa praised the bra company for using data to help customers quickly find bras most likely suited to their style and fit preferences. True&Co surveys shoppers with questions like "how are your shoulder straps?" with accompanying sketches so that its algorithms will display products based on their responses. Then, after the company ships out a box of bras and the buyer decides which to buy and which to send back, it gets telling details on why certain models were returned and thus more data to help better personalize future shopping experiences.

These efforts underscore how companies across all industries are making better use of data to deeply personalize service to digital-savvy individuals who expect value in exchange for their information. 

For banks, such efforts come at a time when consumers do more product research online and make fewer visits to the branch. More intense data-gathering capabilities can help banks offer digital experiences that can set them apart from their rivals. Better analytics can also help call center agents provide faster, more personalized service, bankers say.

Banks are gathering data in many different ways. Some are building data-gathering capabilities into their technology upgrades. Others are starting to track customers' location by their mobile phones, and such data could come in handy in pitching products — auto loans for customers who may be car shopping, for example. 

And some banks are simply asking more questions. Comerica Bank rolled out last year an online questionnaire tool that, based on their answers, will advise web visitors which accounts best suit their needs. 

Dollar Bank in Pittsburgh is using data analytics technology from IBM so that its call center agents could have better visibility into when and where consumers were running into issues in online banking, said Pamela Dancisin, vice president of marketing and internet project manager at the $6.7 billion-asset bank.

By using IBM's Tealeaf, Dancisin said that Dollar has been able to troubleshoot technology issues and speed up customer service calls — good for the bank paying for those conversations and good for the consumer pressed for time.

Among the issues agents have tackled include identifying what browser a consumer is using — to spot the reason why the navigation wasn't displaying, and identify why people were dropping out of the loan application at the very last step. (The most common reason: confusing design.) Armed with knowledge about what the customer was doing, agents could better solve customer issues, she said.

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Comments (1)
It's been my experience that banks have a lot more information about their customers than they know. Often, that detail is horded, in the great bank silo tradition, knowingly or unknowingly. I can't help but wonder how much of the "new" collection is redundant effort.
Posted by saeunc | Thursday, June 26 2014 at 7:10PM ET
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