Perspectives

A Continuous Journey: Driving 360-Degree Client Insights in the Financial Services Industry

July 13, 2020 By: Guest Author

This guest post is part of our Continuous Product Design (CPD) Evangelist series.

Michael Nevski is a data-driven insights executive with experience in financial services and market research. He has a passion for converting data into dollars, using human creativity, marketing analytics, emerging technology, and client-centric approach. In this Q&A, Michael shares how he drove 360-degree client insights at Charles Schwab.

Michael, you led the Client Insights function at Charles Schwab. What was the scope of this function? How did this function work with other analytics and insights teams? Who were your primary stakeholder groups?

The Client Insights function acts as internal consultants to the organization. We have expertise in digital, offline, media, market research, quant and qual data, in-depth customer interviews, focus groups, and behavioral analysis. All of these channels influence client decisions and directions.

Our key stakeholders sat across digital, client experience, product management, acquisition marketing, and content marketing. We partnered with all levels of the enterprise including mid-management, divisional presidents, and top executives. When you support enterprise-wide initiatives it impacts multiple areas and how it will be built into the new digital experience. For example, a new Robo advice investment product offering required cross-functional alignment on fee structure, new product offering digital pages, account opening process, CFP annual review, in app process, etc.

There is a separate Client Loyalty team, which is focused on voice of the customer and measuring NPS. At major financial services companies, the volume of clients is so large that you could have upwards of millions of households. The Client Loyalty team is completely focused on satisfaction and retention, and the Client Insights team works very closely with that team.

With that many stakeholders, did you find each team had their own additional data sources that they leveraged? Was it difficult to get all the teams to agree on what needed to be prioritized to improve the client experience?

With the majority of key stakeholders either relying on historical internal data i.e. usage data or previous external research, the goal is to focus on one or two top priorities applicable to all stakeholders to improve the client experience across multiple channels. We do this by quantifying and prioritizing critical issues through journey mapping, VOC, and tracking. It’s very critical to identify key touch points, define what success looks like by getting a buy-in from every project sponsor, apply and measure KPIs, i.e. slow page response improvement, test/collect feedback, and iterate. It provides a common base for all parties involved to agree on the final project objectives and sets the project for success in the long run.

In such a large, matrixed organization as Charles Schwab, what were the big barriers to making decisions based on 360-degree view of client insights?

I’ve seen three, and we’ll call them opportunities:

1) Access to the internal company data.In larger companies, especially large financial services institutions, there are legacy data platforms which are usually built in isolation. They aren’t fully integrated with other systems. They don’t provide good visibility into the data to build models such as propensity to purchase or customer lifetime value.

2) Tools to understand customer journey.The journey is getting more complex and spans across channels. Tools like Quantum Metric can help us understand those digital touchpoints, where customers struggled, how customers navigate or browse, or where clients fall through the funnel, but that data has to be connected to other funnels data such as offline data, chat data, etc.

3) Data-driven decision-making.You need teams and a mindset that rigorously applies data and design thinking to make continuous improvements that help prospects and customers find the information they’re looking for, interact with your company in meaningful ways, and when they’re ready to transact, to be present in that window of opportunity with relevant messaging, positioning, product offering, and information.

We’ve come a long way when it comes to being able to make better data-driven decisions. When you think back over your career, what are you most excited for next?

Earlier on in my career, we’d rely heavily on anecdotal evidence or qualitative or quantitative research, but we didn’t have robust validation. We didn’t have a good understanding of the customer journey at the behavioral level.

Now, we don’t have to rely on intuition and basic market research. We can do more validation, find more opportunities to do a/b testing, and conduct more behavioral observation—versus doing another customer survey and asking customers questions they can’t answer well.

For example, to really understand media consumption versus digital engagement—and provide hard-boiled ROI on client acquisition—you need to really look at several components.

The three components are the media exposure, connecting that media exposure to digital behavior, and bringing in digital data like Quantum Metric to understand the client experience as they traverse the digital channel broken down by each individual step.

I’ve done this type of work with two of these three components but I’ve lacked the full comprehensive view that Quantum Metric can provide. Because once a client is on my website, I would like to really understand better how they convert in terms of interactions in digital. For instance: How much time they spend on initial account opening? Where did they browse or click? Filling out an application? Submitting funds transfer requests?

That’s what I’m excited about. That’s what’s emerging. To have that 360 view for companies in general, but especially in acquisition channels and also upsell and cross sell for your existing clients.

Connect with Michael on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michaelnevski

 

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