February 26, 2015

Learning about Customer Analytics in Financial Services #CAI2015

By Paul Laughlin

Well, after much publicity, it’s good to have finally experienced Customer Analytics & Insights for Retail Financial Services 2015 (helpfully shortened to #CAI2015).

It was a very enjoyable event and one I would recommend to those wanting an oversight or leadership perspective on what others are doing in this space. Speakers did not get into the level of technical detail which some analysts might expect, but customer insight leaders found much to prompt discussion here.

Those also following my twitter stream will know that I’ve been fairly active over the last couple of days, sharing tweets on what struck me during the event. So, I’ll structure my review in line with those tweets & sum up with some final reflections on who might find this event useful.

Chris Skinner from Financial Services Club usefully started us off with a review of how far we have come in evolution of the Web and what to expect in future. Engagingly he explained how we are actually on Web 6.0 not 2.0, and that is the Value Web (following Access, Information, eCommerce, Content & 5.0 as Social). This was relevant for FS firms as they needed to plan how to be digital value exchangers in a world where crypto-currencies drive significant change. Ahead for the Web, Chris foresaw 7.0 = Internet Of Things  (no surprise there) and then  8.0 = Sensing & Sense and the most Sci Fi was 9.0 onwards with robots, emotions & relationships (aka great movies like Her).

Mike de Halpert shared an important message that I’ve heard before from eBay, the importance of simplicity. This includes fighting to simplify the growing complexity of data (and analysis if not steered) to actually drive decision-making & action. A practical example was how their marketing effectiveness measurement was helped by creating flat per customer records (reducing complex multi-channel journey of marketing & responses to one record).

Rene Frijters, CEO of Knab Bank then shared their practical application of analytics & research in focussing his business on “banking as a service”. This included cultural work on customer centricity and also co-creation with customers of the services they would value. It was good to here a company working with some of their customers to understand where use of data & innovation would help, plus where it would come across as intrusive or too “big brother”.

Prof Merlin Stone, a good friend and very experienced CRM expert, shared his latest work on Programmatic Marketing. This highlighted the importance of context not just content. In some ways it can turn old CRM models upside down, as if you are able to operate with realtime analytics, you can design triggers to be customers online actions rather than what you predict to be their propensity. For instance they click on some information to do with divorce, so you prompt related product offers (rather than being guided by pre-scored models). The innovation beyond this is that text & even image in prompts can be automated to test & learn which versions pull better with customers. Automation has risks of course but this is closer to a realtime Machine Learning model of Marketing.

Filip Vitek from Sberbank shared some interesting thoughts on what he called the “analytics keyboard”. This is the analogy of how the QWERTY keyboard layout was actually originally designed to slow down typing & stop metal parts clashing, but we still use it even now that keyboards are digital. In the same vein, Filip challenged a lot of popular approaches to analytics. One example was highlighting the inaccuracy of ‘average’ propensity scores, which are actually very volatile at different moments in time (like time during month of salary cycle or when busy during the day). His topics also included the speed benefits of being less accurate and finding behavioural proxies for emotions.

It was interesting to chair a panel each day and hear interest in consistent areas from attendees. These topics very much aligned with those voted for on this site, how to prove commercial benefit from your insight, as well as how to recruit & lead analytics teams.

On the second day we heard from Christina Jones of AIG on the cultural challenge of moving from product to customer centred marketing. Needing to add to the classic 5 Ps of proposition, the importance of positive customer experience, as well as again the criticality of timing for insurance.

Next was a partnership from LV=, Iqbal Adjali and Geoff Bates proved that analytics and marketing leaders ca be successful partners. Through a case study which has improved customer retention by several percentage points, they demonstrated collaboration on defining the problem, interpreting the analysis & driving through to action. A great cultural example of insight-led marketing.

I’m glad to say that my presentation on measuring marketing effectiveness was also well received and I will soon be uploading my presentation onto my SlideShare channel.

Apart from those presentations and others I did not cover, there were useful panel discussions and breakout sessions (during which I first hosted a table on data utilisation and then one on recruiting talent). For the latter it was interesting to hear of the consistent challenges which customer insight leaders face in finding, attracting & retaining truly talented analysts. In fact this was such a popular topic, I’ll be sharing more in future to build on previous advice.

So, in summary I do recommend attending this event or the more specific Insurance variant in future. Hopefully future versions will concentrate on Customer Insight for Marketing & Sales as well as giving more air time to research & psychology as well as data & analytics. I recommend it to both those new to a strong focus on customer insight and those wanting to talk with others who are investing in this area. But more leaders than analysts.

Perhaps see you there next year?