Typically data lives with the IT department … It’s not viewed from a business objective perspective. And that needs to change in the industry.” -Kim Snyder

Most financial brands keep a secret vault of digital data locked inside a server room somewhere. What if you explored this valuable data to discover key insights about your customers? Would it give you an advantage in the financial world?

Kim Snyder, CEO and founder of KlariVis, a company that teaches companies how to leverage data to gain advantages in the marketplace, knows all about how a financial company can take a fresh look at its data and seize opportunities to view it as a major asset for the brand.

Her company, KlariVis, makes digital interactive solutions by bankers for bankers that foster smart decision-making.

Digital Growth is an Ongoing Journey

Digital growth is a journey that never ends, which means financial companies are always encountering challenges that must be addressed to continue moving forward successfully.

Kim explains, “You’re always seeing more opportunities to either create, capture, or capitalize on new roadblocks that we need to eliminate and work through together.”

This includes understanding the complex web of data financial companies are storing.

It’s not about a lack of data, Kim says. There’s an abundance of data.

“I know the amount of data that goes through the banking systems, and it’s enormous. I always tell our clients, ‘You have the most intimate details and information about your customers’ … Forget Google, forget Facebook, all of those big players in the tech space. Your financial institution should know you better than anyone else.”

Demystifying the Data at Financial Institutions 

Kim has found, in working with so many banks, that the challenge is to cut through the noise of data overload and focus on the high-value, actionable data that’s most meaningful to the customer. It’s about demystifying the data and learning to leverage its meaning.

But much of this data shows what people do more than what they say.

People tell their stories by making financial transactions. Every time they swipe a card, that’s part of the brand narrative.

Is this an opportunity to illuminate the customer journey? Is this how financial brands can help people become “the best version of themselves”?

Kim was a community bank CFO for 10 years and faced upheaval in her personal life during that time. She shifted her focus to developing a new type of boutique consulting firm of bankers who could help banks run more efficiently and successfully. 

Within four years, she had about 30 bank clients and more than 60% of these clients hired her for multiple engagements to address specific issues. What Kim discovered doing this work was that every client had data problems at some level.

“Everybody was struggling with data,” she says. “It was paramount … That was in every community bank problem, not just a small community bank problem. We decided we wanted to go and solve it.”

What Kim was doing was finally listening to the VOC or the voice of the customer.

The experiences and patterns that guide a bank customer’s decision-making are part of their customer journey and are a voice that should speak very loudly to banking professionals.

Unfortunately, they’re not always listening.

The Struggles and Value of Data Visualization

Even when companies agree that they have a deep archive of digital data available, they hit the roadblock of data visualization. It’s extremely difficult for them to do pattern recognition and organize the information into any kind of usable format.

Bank executives are used to getting their information from linear reports - things like reports of new depositors, lists of new loans, and data dumps of who’s paying off their loans and leaving the bank.

But nothing is tying it all together into a bigger picture.

This makes it difficult to glean insights and make smart decisions for the bank moving forward. And it’s exactly why Kim founded KlariVis - to aggregate banking data and provide the big-picture thinking banks need to act confidently and thoughtfully in strategic planning.

Kim and KlariVis are helping banks answer questions like:

  • What are our highest-value data points?
  • What are our most important customer trends?
  • What’s driving banking behavior?
  • What’s happening at our bank that’s different or not different from others?
  • What’s holding our customers back?
  • What is the cost of a lost customer?

Sometime Data is So Secure, It's Innaccurate

Another important consideration is the cost of keeping good data in a bad place, meaning a completely inaccessible place. Or, in some cases, up to 15 places! Kim has found that the average bank uses up to 15 different systems that may or may not communicate with one another.

A bank’s data typically lives with its IT department and isn’t viewed as crucial business data to use in strategic planning.

Kim says that must change.

While IT professionals are excellent at maintaining data integrity, their primary role is not to provide data clarity. Kim says the CIO might think, "We need a data cleanup project. We need to do a data scrub." But who’s going to do all that work?

When clients work with KlariVis, this is often their “Aha!” moment.

Kim and her team help them realize that without data cleanup and clarity, they can’t do proper predictive analysis. They can’t take advantage of artificial intelligence. They can’t do marketing campaigns that resonate with their customers. 

So what other potential opportunities can companies seize when they capitalize on their data?

What about innovative marketing campaigns?

Sales efforts? Lending efforts?

Kim explains that this is why it’s so important to stop viewing data as owned or controlled by a single silo-like IT or the marketing department. 

“It truly needs to be an enterprise-wide asset,” she says. “It needs to start from the top-down. The strategic plan needs to be talking about the importance of data and data analytics. It needs to have board buy-in and it needs to be baked into the DNA of the bank. That doesn't happen overnight. That's a culture change for sure.”

The Human Side of Data Analysis

How can banks use their data to understand human behavior?

Banks aren’t always good at understanding their customers’ signals.

Are banks positioned to understand pandemic-related stress?

Do they recognize their customers’ emotional challenges?

Do they know or care that this is “an epidemic rooted in people’s wallets”?

Kim believes that banks should learn lessons from the healthcare industry in this regard. She explains the difference between doing a check-in with your healthcare provider vs. your bank.

“Every time you go to the doctor, what do you do? You verify your name, you verify your address, you verify your phone number, you verify your email address. We don't do so in banking. We don't. We should, but we don't. It's crazy,” Kim says.

She relates a story about a bank that had been around for 60 to 70 years that was still using old landline telephone numbers to verify accounts and help customers activate their debit cards. Those landlines don’t even exist today! It’s such a turnoff for modern, tech-minded customers.

Of course, there’s no way a healthcare company would have this same problem. Why? Because they ask for a new phone number every time someone comes in for a new appointment or, at a minimum, once a year. They have a constant infusion of fresh, accurate contact data.

Healthcare also has things to teach banking in terms of doing business at a distance. Telemedicine has reached new heights and people are now comfortable with talking to a doctor through a virtual meeting program. This allows the remote doctor to see their body language, pick up on unspoken communication, and ask follow-up questions that are valuable to the overall experience.

Why can’t banking do that too? When people give their consent to share data or speak virtually, it’s possible to create a secure space where they and their providers can interact more intimately.

Breaking Down Banking Barriers

Another issue to consider is how healthcare has been able to break down internal silos that banking hasn’t yet managed to address. Kim compares it to the way the average healthcare customer has their general practitioner, their cardiologist, their neurologist, and all of their other specialists. 

Technology now allows them all to work together to view blood work, review medications, and make better recommendations based on a holistic picture of the person’s health. Banking should be able to do that too. 

Someone’s mortgage situation might be relevant to their choices when opening a new account. Their investment decisions might factor into their new mortgage and so forth. Many banks have no data strategy for examining or improving these bigger-picture aspects of the full customer journey.

Kim emphasizes that banks should do this carefully and can’t get ahead of themselves by trying to “shove this down the throat of culture.” Bank employees and leaders won’t automatically accept it and neither will customers. 

It must be handled carefully with the guidance of a company like KlariVis.

Maybe banks need some “micro wins” that increase the confidence of their employees, which then starts a positive and self-fulfilling cycle that proves the process works and creates more value for customers.

Kim reminds banking professionals to always keep the human side of data management in mind. Create an experience for humans, by humans, that feels 100% human. 

Simply put, successful banks do this and unsuccessful banks don’t. Kim concludes, “Where they fail is they think technology is going to solve the problem. It doesn’t. You have to have a strategy around it.”