Selligent: take marketing to the next level - André Lejeune
As with most industries, understanding consumer behaviour is becoming more important to the banking community. With individuals expecting better engagement and dialogue in their economic lives, traditional ways of marketing need to be complemented by communication methods inspired by direct marketing.
Confidence in the banking industry has also reached a new low. Any concerted effort by the banks to recover public trust will need to look more closely at what the customer wants and how their experience can be improved and empowered.
A recent study by BT and Avaya confirms that point. In the UK, 73% of bank customers described interaction with their local branch as the most meaningful point of contact. In Germany, Spain and the US, the numbers and the conclusion were essentially the same - customers dealing with issues of personal finance want the experience of personal, human communication.
Engaging with marketing strategy and introducing new technology is something banks are used to doing. The financial service sector already contributes significantly to the total interactive marketing spend.
And, with the introduction of new multichannel platforms like internet banking and mobile technology, the industry has proved itself more than capable of accounting for consumer behaviour.
Despite that experience, managing the complexities of a cross-channel marketing strategy still requires effort from across the board. Introducing software vendors like Selligent into the process can remove a lot of that complexity and drive long-term business performance.
As a leader in conversion marketing and interactive customer relationship management (CRM), Selligent provides the kinds of practical solutions necessary to any ambitious, customer-driven enterprise.
"As a software vendor, we're focused on orchestrating scenarios of interaction through a combination of front-of-office applications and interactive CRM solutions," says André Lejeune, CEO at Selligent. "It's about making a journey logical, constructive and, in the end, getting the consumer to subscribe or buy an additional product or service."
Personal customer interaction
In trying to interact with the customer in a dynamic and personal way, Selligent has created what it calls the 'scenario concept', a fully automated concatenation of actions and reactions with individualised content and personalisation rules.
It has the ability to combine a range of different channels including inbound, outbound, SMS, direct mail and direct message through applications developed for platforms such as the iPhone or iPad.
"The interactive scenario is the missing piece of the puzzle at the bank level because it's fully consumer-driven," Lejeune says. "It's nothing to do with work flow, it's just the ability to link actions and reactions, and to build the customer from one part of the chain to what we call conversion steps.
"Take an example where a bank is launching a new prepaid credit card aimed specially at young people. The bank could set up a contest to attract early adopters. They could promote the launch campaign by email and through other interactive marketing methods such as banners, QR codes and mini websites in order to create and drive traffic to a central page, with subscription forms leading to the conversion funnel.
"They'll try to make their customers recommend the contest to their peers through a member-get-member mechanism. It works very well with young people, and it's a great way of creating traffic for new customers or animating relationships within an existing customer base."
Using a customer's revealed behaviour, needs and life events (such as marriage, moving house or having a baby) to engage them in a relevant and personal cross-channel dialogue is the essence of interactive marketing.
But equally important is turning those customer touch-points into a genuine sales opportunity.
Conversion marketing is the art of using direct marketing methods in a way that generates the opportunity for relevant contacts and continues the dialogue through into its ultimate stage: a sale or a subscription.
"Banks invest a lot in publicity and advertisements, creating large quantities of traffic on their websites and digital applications," Lejeune says. "But one of the key challenges they face is converting that traffic into a real sales opportunity for new customers.
"So, not only do we provide interactive marketing or interactive marketing scenarios, we also help the banking sector streamline what they call their sales flows. The way we position our solution is actually less marketing-driven and more sales-driven."
Selligent is headquartered in Belgium, and deals with various aspects of the business-to-consumer and business-to-business service. The company, which is active in the Netherlands, France, Spain, Italy and Germany, has worked with technology and solutions teams at banks such as BNP Paribas, Rabobank and Allianz. That level of involvement is crucial in an industry with such stringent requirements.
Banks are used to holding vast amounts of sensitive information and any new facility or service must be compliant with regulatory standards.
"You can imagine how cautious these kinds of banks are about safety," Lejeune says. "The strategic relationships that we've built with the sector, as well as other industries, illustrates the reliability of our marketing solutions from a security standpoint. We're able to integrate our solutions within their back office in a closed environment.
"We can also trace the situation as it stood months before, in case of a customer complaint or any other compliance requirement. It's possible to recreate an entire scenario based on the initial problem. All of this is part of our technology and is very important in the eyes of the financial institutions."
Selligent has undertaken a variety of partnerships and projects over the years, but its experience with BNP Paribas stands out. Like most banks, it understands the value of cross-channel consumer engagement and the complexity involved in delivering it.
With Selligent's interactive tools and considerable experience in customer interaction, the bank now has an integrated and consistent solution for its marketing and sales needs.
"We equipped their local branch managers with tools that allow them to either programme or follow local actions at a manageable rhythm," Lejeune says. "We've combined the marketing programmes with sales programmes, and made sure that the rhythm is fully compliant with the ability to follow up and manage customer relations. It's a clear, personalised and dynamic service that aligns very well with the BNP Paribas strategy.
"In this, as with other projects, it's important to be compatible and complementary with the rest of the IT landscape within the bank. They've often invested in different systems over the years and all those systems have to be taken into account when bringing an additional tool into the landscape."
With its knowledge and experience of the industry, Selligent is well placed to help the financial service market engage better with its customer base. Its unique combination of interactive and conversion marketing enables better conversion rates, higher profitability and, perhaps most importantly, a richer experience for the consumer.