I am your target demographic. I’m a Millennial, I’m on a good career trajectory with a blue chip company (SAP), and chances are I tick all the boxes of the profile your marketing department is looking to attract as a customer. So I’m going to tell you what I want – as a consumer – from my bank, insurance company and financial services providers. Plus a few of the things I don’t want. Ready?
I may tick all of your demographic boxes, but I’m more than an age bracket. Treat me as an individual. I’m in the exploration phase of my life. I’ve lived in Dubai, Singapore and I’m now an ex-pat living in South Africa. I’ll probably try another one or two countries before I decide where I’m going to make my permanent home. I love shopping, going to the gym, I can initiate a conversation with just about anyone, and I have a great zest for life. I try to learn one new thing every day – from sky diving to Zentangle.
My bank is none of these things. In fact, we don’t really know each other. I’ve not stepped foot in a branch for almost three years – and that was only to set up my account. I do pretty much everything online. You would think that my ‘digital footprint’ and spending behaviour would theoretically make it quite easy for my bank to personalise and tailor their interactions with me. But they don’t.
They make me go through the same cumbersome processes time and again because their different departments are still working in silos – it doesn’t seem like they talk to each other either, let alone me as an individual. When I travel, I have to call one department to get my debit card set up for international transactions, and then I have to hang up and re-dial their credit card department and go through all of my security details again because they don’t answer internally transferred calls.
Plus as an ex-pat, I sometimes find myself having to give the same information on different forms for different departments over and over again. It’s horrifically disintegrated. Yes, I can do basic banking online, but there’s no real added value, just a series of clumsy interactions when I have to deal with different divisions of the bank.
My insurance company on the other hand is a completely different story. They add value in more ways than one. They give me a twenty-five per cent discount on workout clothes at certain stores. That’s why I buy my workout gear there. They refund money back into my bank account when I buy fruits and vegetables at a certain supermarket. That’s why I do my weekly shopping there. They know I belong to a gym and because, they have a vested interest in my health, they reward me for my healthy habits and lifestyle with membership discounts.
Likewise, my friend’s insurance company acknowledges that the value of a car decreases every month, so she pays a slightly lower premium each month. All of these things may not add up to huge amounts, but these insurance providers are mapping their services to our lifestyles with both context and relevance.
I think these types of collaboration – insurance companies, supermarkets, gyms and clothing retailers – will become much more prevalent. As a consumer, I certainly want them to. I’m all in favour of more collaboration between non-traditional partners teaming up to be part of the daily ecosystem that I engage with day to day. I don’t stop being me when I switch from working to shopping to travelling so why can’t the many different suppliers in my life find the common ground between them in having me as their customer?
My bank doesn’t need to know how I take my coffee. It just needs to tailor its services to me as an individual consumer, not an eleven digit account number.
Bhavya Kamaraj is an Industry Value Advisor for SAP South Africa.