On Wednesday, February 19, Nathaniel Halsey, SVP of Digital Services Marketing & Infrastructure for Citibank, and Tom Hartman, Head of Sales & Marketing for Networked Insights, met at Argyle Executive Forum to discuss marketing challenges in the financial services industry and the use of data and technology in customer relations.
Tom Hartman: As you look out over 2014, what do you think will be the focus and priorities for you and your team?
Nathaniel Halsey: My team’s primary focus this year will be twofold: 1) integrate our digital assets into a cohesive set of digital properties that deliver customer value and 2) develop next-generation ad serving and offer capabilities for Citi’s owned and operated platform, all while delivering experiences that are truly customer-centric.
If advertising’s all about “right person, right message, right time,” how are you utilizing targeted content and communications to make more meaningful connections with the consumer?
It is a combination of harnessing all the data available—online, offline, transactional data, and behavioral data—and leveraging every touch point to provide a differentiated customer experience. We are building event-based triggers to identify behaviors and market across channels. One example is where we identify customers who deposit checks at the ATM and then message them the next time they log onto Citibank.com, prompting them to download our Citi Mobile® App and use Mobile Check Deposit. These targeted communications provide the “wow” factor or surprise and delight. You are at your home, and you take a picture of your check and press send. Just like that, the transaction is complete—no visit to the branch, no ATM.
In terms of data analytics, your team produces a lot of knowledge because you see how consumers respond and what they like better than others. When you run a campaign and you have the first and best line of sight as to whether it’s working or not, how do those learnings get fed back into the organization to influence the next campaign?
It is a combination of several factors, including the technology, the platforms that collect the data and produce reports, and the team responsible for the campaign analysis. We have various platforms that capture customer behavior, in some cases even across channels, for any single campaign. A marketer can view campaign performance and adjust the campaign as necessary. We also have a team of analysts who can dig deeper to understand what value a campaign or group of responders to a campaign delivers to the business.
It seems that you have the ability to help the customer have a much better experience because you’re trying to anticipate their needs. How are you thinking about improving the customer experience?
We see now that, with all these digital services, people may start an action on one device and finish it on another. So, at the end of the day, it’s about anticipating customers’ needs, building trust with them and demonstrating that you know them and care about how they consume information. To achieve this, we are leveraging increasing amounts of data about how customers interact with us across various touch points, essentially creating a 360-degree view of the customer.
Looking to the future, are there trends you are tracking in terms of ad serving or customer experience that you think are going to evolve over the course of the year?
One of the most interesting trends is what is permissible in sharing first- and third-party data. The space is evolving so quickly, and the industry experts and regulators are trying to stay on top of it. Another interesting trend is what is going to happen with cookies and whether they will continue to be used to track online behavior or if there will be some other mechanism that can identify a user’s behavior. Lastly, I think mobile is another area where ad serving is evolving quickly. All of these trends will have big implications for how businesses acquire, engage and retain customers.
There’s a piece in the Times about Google Plus and how they don’t really care whether you use it for social because, once you register for Google Plus, they can connect you to all the other Google services. All of a sudden, they have a 360-degree view of the customer.
Similar to Google, we connect with customers through a variety of channels- branches, phones, online, mobile, tablet and ATM. Customers can register for our online services and connect to the Mobile App, Mobile Thin Client or Tablet App. And as I mentioned above, we have platforms that provide us with a 360-degree view of the customer. This enables us to market more effectively to the customer and demonstrate that we know our customers.
Would you say your access to the purchase data is limited?
We have access to the purchase data. I’m saying that the ability to integrate first- and third-party data is becoming increasingly complex. I think, at the end of the day, if we can show we’re abiding by industry standards, that we have the customer’s best interest at heart and are trying to anticipate their needs, and provide a differentiated experience, people will be more likely to opt into our marketing communications.
I think the issue’s going to be overwhelming. The bank may have a huge opportunity because you’ve positioned yourself into a place where the customer can opt into 50 or to one because you see everything that they do and consolidate it into one unified place. To me, that’s a huge value proposition; I don’t want 50 emails with coupons.
That’s about managing that customer contact and providing a positive customer experience—show me that you know me and care about me. When you think of your favorite merchant or hobby, if Citi gave you an offer that enabled you to do that better, would you react negatively? That’s where the trust comes in. I don’t think people have an issue sharing information if they truly believe you have their best interests at heart and know them well. But when you start sending offers for products or services that customers are not the least bit interested in, then you break that trust. Customers become annoyed or simply ignore you.