Personalisation should be the CX of modern finance

Commentators from Appnovation and Zopa help us determine what the contemporary financial customer experience should be and why personalisation is key

Digital transformation has changed how finance companies operate, but how is it altering the customer experience (CX)? Although the answer might not be straightforward, there has been a palpable shift away from ‘one-size-fits-all’ products and a renaissance in flexible, transparent, and engaging alternatives. This is because, instead of being product or service-centric, companies now have an added layer of agility that enables them to mould deliverables around the end-user.

As customers themselves become more technologically sophisticated, the necessity of accommodating unmet needs will become central to competitiveness. The business case for doing so is clear: banks, for example, can expect to gain a 27.5% growth rate via this relatively subtle cultural transformation.

To help us determine the best path for optimising CX in modern financial services, we spoke with Clare Gambardella, Chief Customer Officer at Zopa, and Allison Humphries, VP of Strategy at Appnovation.

Refocusing around the customer

Recognising the shift towards more customer-centric operations is an important step, but understanding why is essential. “As finance becomes generally more fragmented and physical money is replaced by digital transactions, automatic payments, and more; people are inherently craving more control over their individual finances,” explains Humphries. Herein lies the value: digital technology is handing power back to the consumer; FSIs are now the facilitators of that empowerment and their CX must reflect this.

Yet, for many, legacy infrastructure and convoluted systems and processes impede progress. However, this must be remedied as soon as possible - for the modern customer, what Appnovation called the ‘digital consumer’ in a recent study, the digital experience is everything:

  • 84% hope that brands will adopt digital solutions and subsequently develop new products and services
  • 53% consider themselves already totally at ease with touchless tech, with a further 22% indicating that they will become likewise following longer exposure
  • 67% felt that a digital experience in banking and financial management was extremely or very important to them

Humphries is of the opinion that “a willingness to lead with empathy” on the matter is what FSIs must demonstrate. Simply meeting expectations is conforming to the status quo; companies must push beyond towards a more “value-based experience that has the potential to address the unique financial needs of each customer.”

Gambardella explains that this has always been Zopa’s approach to CX: “As our product set has grown, we have evolved our structure to ensure a customer-led approach which delivers greater ease and consistency. As a result, customers know what to expect from us, for example a rigorous approach to removing unnecessary fees. It also allows Zopa to reapply learnings and capabilities quickly across different areas and create greater efficiency versus a more siloed approach.”

Deloitte: CX is part of finance’s future

In its article ‘A higher bottom line - The future of financial services’, Deloitte listed a new approach to CX as being among its six accelerating forces for change in the sector. 

“Delivering against an ‘average customer’ will not sustain profits, let alone boost them. New capabilities, including technology tools and systems and an augmented workforce, will empower financial services players {... ]in ways that are more direct, personalised, and socially responsible.”

Eliminating silos

To effectively replace silos, FSIs must recontextualise how the separate aspects of their business interact. Instead of just focusing on one specific part of the customer journey, such as POS, companies must re-evaluate how the end-to-end experience can be optimised for maximum customer engagement, retention and return.

“When it comes to CX,” states Humphries, “it’s imperative to define a ‘north star’ strategy that leans to the future, yet anchors marketing, product, sales, and technology to a common path forward with shared goals.” In effect, the north star establishes how every aspect of a company is organised, which in practice grants greater levels of overall consistency and value for customers. As such, CX becomes an integrated and collaborative project consisting of separate but interconnected strands. “Personalisation, content, SEO, marcom, as well as the data and technology that enables the experience, should all be aligned to the same overarching plan,” she adds.

Technology itself also has an important role to play in reducing CX friction. AI (artificial intelligence) and omnichannel communication are important new tools, but Gambardella opts to highlight another: Open Finance. Capable of forging a more direct relationship between customers and the FSIs serving them, the broader implications of Open Finance could be revolutionary. Regarding Zopa’s specific use of Open Banking, she said, “In some cases, it can be used to reduce complexity and friction, such as verifying a customer’s income. We can now do this in seconds when previously it would require bank statements and other documents to be submitted for review. In other cases, Open Banking helps us to improve customer’s access to credit by augmenting their credit record data.”

Empowerment and innovation

A by-product of customer empowerment through this new approach to CX, Gambardella continues, is placing more onus on FSIs to prove their service’s superiority. That consumers in the digital age are homogenising their expectations based on experiences with other tech leaders (Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Uber, etc) across several industries is becoming an unassailable argument. “Customers are more likely to shop around and future innovation will need to deliver CX that’s faster, in the channel of their choice, and in a way that integrates more intuitively into their lives.” Zopa is embracing this way of thinking in several ways:

  • Enabling customers to apply for a loan or credit card in minutes, as well as providing eligibility checks that don’t affect one’s credit rating
  • An app that provides users with easy management tools, including spend breakdowns, credit limits, and payment methods
  • Convenient-to-contact customer service agents and product FAQs

“We are always listening to our customers and turning those insights into better products,” states Gambardella. This, agrees Humphries, should be the finance industry’s approach to CX going forward. “FSIs who choose to focus on their customers will see increased customer satisfaction, increased customer retention, and will open the door for more personalised up-sell and cross-sell opportunities.” 

Furthermore, utilising customer insights won’t stymie a business’ creativity or be the proverbial ‘tail wagging the dog.’ On the contrary, bringing disparate data streams together will create a more complete and actionable profile from which FSIs can work. “With customer insight comes a much greater opportunity for innovative thinking and experimentation,” concludes Humphries. “To facilitate experimentation is an imperative foundation for any customer-centric FSI experience.”


Meet our commentators...

Allison Humphries, Vice President Strategy (Americas), Appnovation


Appnovation is a global full-service digital consultancy that helps clients navigate constant change by placing customers first and creating innovative digital experiences that are derived from human truth.

“I am responsible for leading a team of strategic planning and insights professionals across North America who are committed to delivering positive outcomes for our clients’ businesses and their customers.”


Clare Gambardella, Chief Customer Officer, Zopa


“I lead a number of teams all focused on providing the best customer experience, including our Operations team, Marketing and Communications, Product Design and our app and web offering.   

“Zopa wants to make customers feel good about their finances and this means delivering better value products, in a way that is simple to use and understand. We focus on products like loans, cards and savings which have a significant impact on customer’s financial wellbeing and where we believe the customer offering can be most dramatically improved.”


Featured Articles

Eric Hussey, Finastra joins FinTech LIVE New York

Eric Hussey, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer at Finastra to speak at FinTech LIVE New York

Upcoming Events: FinTech LIVE 2024

Discover what’s still to come in 2024 for FinTech LIVE including virtual, in-person events and awards


FinTech LIVE returns this summer with FinTech LIVE New York on 17 June 2024 – The ultimate virtual event for fintech leaders in North America

WE’RE LIVE! FinTech LIVE Dubai

Digital Payments

Amberdata: RWA tokenisation gains significant momentum

Tech & AI

WE’RE LIVE! FinTech LIVE Singapore