Why You’re Going to Start Liking Your Bank a Lot More

The-Makegood.com_Chango_Premal_Shah This column was written by Premal Shah, VP, Strategy at Chango, a real-time marketing technology company with an advanced platform and full-service solutions for brands and agencies. Premal is responsible for leading best practices and partnership strategies across all media solutions and the Programmatic Marketing Platform (PMP).

Commercial bankers, like car salespeople, don’t usually get much love. Most of us are tired of being bombarded by useless credit card offers, tired of being unable to complete time-sensitive financial transactions right when we need to. We want our bankers to be on our side, rather than spending their energy looking for new ways to add fees.

It’s too bad that so many people feel this way about banks and bankers. The truth is that it doesn’t have to be this way. With all the data bankers have on us, they’re in a great position to make our lives easier rather than harder. Let’s take a look at five ways that bankers of the future could use the techniques of programmatic marketing to be a lot more helpful.

1. Anticipate your banking needs

Your banker knows as much, if not more, about your banking needs than you do. Banks can not only access your location, demographic information and transactional records but also look at such data in aggregate across the entire U.S. population. In other words, your banker has enough data to see patterns and to anticipate your next move — even before you’ve contemplated it.

Let’s say, for example, that every spring I go for a trip to Washington D.C. or Philadelphia. The information is sitting in plain sight via the transactions made with my bank-issued credit card. So why not put that data to good use? My bank could partner with a travel company and email me an offer to double my reward points on specific travel-related purchases? Or perhaps my bank could add value all around by directing me to a dynamically-generated webpage that lists great places to shop — and use the bank’s card — in D.C. and Philly.

2. Accelerate your applications

There’s nothing more frustrating than being turned down for a credit card or a new credit limit, especially when the rejection is based on a “credit score” that likely doesn’t tell the full story about your financial record. But why should a bank have to rely only on a credit score when there’s so much additional data available? A bank knows, for example, whether your application is spontaneous (you need money now) or planned long in advance ( you want a better credit card). And a bank has access to all sorts of additional signals, from the type of credit card offers you’ve explored on its site to the shopping patterns you’ve revealed by using the bank’s card in the past. If this additional data allows banks to make even slightly smarter decisions with respect to who receives credit, it could lead to huge profits. And wouldn’t it be nice to see credit offers that are targeted specifically to you on your ATM screen rather than those mortgage ads you have no interest in?

3. Help you avoid silly fees

Banks need fees to survive. Consumers get that. The problem is that some of the fees are just really silly. And these silly fees both damage the brand experience and create some operational challenges for the bank — customer calls and complaints can be expensive to process.

Now, in a perfect world, banks might eliminate these feels altogether. But, at the very least, they should know enough about you to know what type of offers and fees you’re willing to accept. In the display world, we regularly blacklist websites that don’t perform. Shouldn’t bankers blacklist fees that are ineffective based on your customer profile? Just imagine how much goodwill banks could earn if customers logged into their accounts only to discover announcements about the elimination of fees based on new data reviews.

4. Stop sending you stuff you don’t need

If a bank can anticipate your needs, then it should also be able to figure out that you don’t need or want another super amazing gold card this spring. Say, for example, your balance is in good standing and that you haven’t looked at the credit card page on your bank’s website or searched for any credit card-related terms in a very long time. That’s a pretty strong signal to the bank that you’re not interested in a new card and don’t need the same direct mail offer over and over. Putting the breaks on all those offers will both save the bank money and make for much happier customers — not to mention a greener planet.

5. Avoid any offline offers all together

My bank knows that I live an online life — that I buy my clothes on Gilt and other online outlets and that I don’t spend much at brick and mortar shops. So, why not put me in the ‘online only’ customer segment? Why not recognize that I’m tech-savvy and give me a special phone number I can call that won’t guide me through the various steps needed to link a credit card to my account?

Better yet, why not get to work on a Google Glass app that can scan my check or show me all of my financial data with a couple of quick blinks.

If that happens, I can promise you that bankers will suddenly be a lot more popular than car salespeople.