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Next Best Action? Get the basics right first!

Yesterday, due to lack of coffee and fat fingers, I entered the wrong credentials when logging into my online banking account, and was locked out. Not really a big deal, sorting it out was easy to do and took about 2 minutes.

This morning, I got an email from my bank with the headline:

"Welcome back to online banking!"

It went on to excitedly inform me that I could now manage my money 24/7 (who knew!);pay bills (really?); transfer funds; set up standing orders; print statements; and even download an app and do it all on my phone! Amazing!

I am willing to bet that this email was generated via an eye-wateringly expensive marketing automation platform, stuffed to the brim with all sorts of scenarios and rules governing who gets what email when, what the content is, what time it should be sent, etc.

In other words, a "Next Best Action" engine - complex, fun to work on, "Big Data" capable (boardrooms love that), and fast.

The trouble is, it's getting the basics wrong.

A simple query on the database would have identified me as a regular user of online banking, who has logged in almost every day for the last 2 years, and uses both web and app to access it. So why send me an email that addresses me as if I've never done any of that? The message is totally wasted, and serves no purpose other than being irritating.

What could have been done instead? Well I've come up with the following, and I'm sure there are many more:

  • They could have emailed me, acknowledging I had just reset my credentials, and inviting me to test them NOW by logging in. This could have driven me straight back to their site - where they could then use some more "clever" Next Best Action rules to try sell me something.

  • They could have noticed that, after I'd reset my details and logged back in, I went on to order a new contactless card via an online chat window. How about sending me an email about that instead - telling me when I'd get the card and what I could do with it? Much more relevant and engaging to me, and also feels more personal.

  • They know I am a regular user of most features on this site, so how about just leaving me alone? I'd appreciate that as would many I'm sure. Sometimes doing nothing is the best course of action.

Companies get so hung up on the latest and greatest technology that they forget to approach communication strategy from a customer’s perspective.

It’s really not hard to look at data, apply some common sense, and drive the right message to the right person at the right time.

It's all about how much intelligence is used when setting up your strategy - whether you are using Excel or some all-singing all-dancing enterprise solution.

Get the basics wrong, and you risk alienating the very customers you are trying to engage with.

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