Within financial services there has been a shift away from the traditional focus on product to a customer centric focus. Digital business models and service channels play a critical role in this shift, enabling companies to better meet the needs of customers.
The great digital migration
With the increasing prevalence and pervasiveness of digital technology, the rise of mobile applications beyond the internet portal, and the digital transformation that many financial institutions are currently undergoing, the importance of providing relevant digital services and the relationship that can be fostered with customers through digital channels is increasingly important. Never before has the customer had more access to information about their accounts and the power to action and make decisions over their accounts – customers are now empowered to make their own financial choices.
Data quality – the foundation of a good customer experience
An integral part of enhancing this relationship with the customer is maximising the quality of the customer experience across channels, but in particular across digital access points such as portals, websites, and applications. A sexy and simple user interface or ‘user experience’ as the digital designers refer to it, is important and certainly receives significant focus. But if the information provided to the customer via these digital channels is inaccurate or outdated the customer will not have a good experience, which leads us to the importance of data quality.
Digital projects are all about the look and feel of the user interface, whether a website, portal, or a mobile application, the interface between the company and its customers – both internal and external. Internal customers or employees that perform a function that relies on the information and services provided by an internal portal, and external customers that interact with the company through a public website, secure portal, or mobile app.
The UX is important, but don’t forget the data
Large amounts of effort and cost are expended on the design of these digital user interfaces, the consistent presentation of layout, the definition of content, menus, colours, fonts, the flow of pages, the look and feel. But just as important and in need of equal consideration is the data that gets displayed and the quality of that data. If any of the functionality is data dependent, reliant on customer specific information that is based on the collection of data about a customer then appropriate measures need to be taken to ensure that the presentation of that information across digital channels is accurate and timely. For example, the presentation of a customer’s contract details, what products have they bought, when did they join, what services have been rendered, what fees are they paying, what transactions have occurred on the account, all this information is typically sourced from disparate systems which may or may not be consolidated into some form of data warehouse. Before any of this potentially sensitive data gets displayed on a portal, there has to be confidence that there is integrity in the data, as the information displayed will get used to make decisions that can affect the business and impact the customer.
If the data is already sitting in the data warehouse, there can be a level of comfort that the data has been cleansed, transformed according to business rules and is ready to use, however for any new integration of systems there will be a need to analyse that source data, assess its quality, and understand how it maps through to display on a portal.
Improving data quality
There is no silver bullet to delivering data quality but it starts with understanding your data, and putting together a framework to enable data analysis that highlights any gaps and data issues. Early data analysis will prevent issues occurring later in the implementation, reduce error rates in integrated data, and prevent the costs of reworking a solution.
The first step is to understand your data and more specifically the project data requirements. This will involve analysing existing data assets, systems and databases, and performing a gap analysis between what is required and what actually exists. Ensure non-functional factors are considered such as data availability and quality to ensure data is fit-for-purpose. Perform data profiling to identify whether any data elements are invalid and to confirm data is clean.
Data mapping is an important part of getting this understanding of where the data comes from and its quality, tracing the data from source to its presentation on the digital portal. Determine the set of rules that data must comply with, and create a field mapping that defines the source of the data, access methods, the display rules applied to that data, and the procedures used to get that data for display. This will become a useful tool for analysis of issues, a resource for analysts, developers and testers that provides a consistent reference point for understanding the data requirement.
Data analysis will highlight data issues and will be an input into identifying, actioning and providing an optimal solution.
What’s the payoff?
With the increasing empowerment of customers and their ability to action service requests online – check statements, balances, transactions, change products, buy/sell investment options – the timeliness and accuracy of the data that gets presented becomes critical as it is used in the decision making process.
Even something as mundane as capturing a customer’s application details, getting the correspondence address and other customer contact details right, even spelling their name correctly, plays into improving the trust a customer has in their financial institution.
Putting the required emphasis on data quality will result in delivery of a better end product that increases the confidence customers have in their financial services provider. It’s a vital cog in delivery of a digital solution that fulfils its purpose – to enhance the customer experience and develop the relationship with your customer.
Jon Loppacher, Senior Consultant