Title: CEO, Saylent
Industry experience: 20 years
Having started his career at an advertising agency, Tyson Nargassans never thought he would end up marketing for financial institutions. But today he runs Saylent, a marketing firm that is trying to crack one of the biggest challenges for financial institutions: How to be pertinent to their customers. After working at an agency, Nargassans moved to a B2B startup and then to a small ATM software company before coming to Saylent.
“We started by crafting programs to increase debit card activity and today we are building an end-to-end solution to bring customers closer to financial institutions,” Nargassans told Banker & Tradesman. “There is a lack of relevancy today in banking; we are working to address that problem by uncovering customer engagement opportunities and help the bank execute them.” Banker & Tradesman caught up with Nargassans to discuss the gap between financial institutions and their customers and ways to bridge that gap.
Q: What do you think is the main difference between marketing for financial institutions and marketing for other industries?
A: Other industries do a better job reading data on their customers to maximize the relationship, faster and repeatably. Financial institutions are up against an army of new entrants to the market that are competing for their customers. These players recognize the customer need and meet it. They understand the caliber of experience – every experience – today’s consumers demand. To effectively compete, financial institutions need to commit to real personalization, leveraging customer data into valued experiences and relationships.
Q: You’ve said there’s a personalization gap between banks and their customers. Can you elaborate?
A: It’s not that banks don’t have the data to be smarter about their customers; they have lots of very good data in multiple, often siloed places. But too often, they focus on the difficulty of obtaining the data they need to succeed instead of coming up with a better solution. Now, with smart, aggressive competitors closing in, banks are feeling the heat. From big names like Amazon and Google to smaller, FI-focused digital players, these competitors would never ignore a shred of valuable customer data. Many banks can’t make the same claim. To close their personalization gap with existing customers, banks need to focus more on creating the ability to act on that data. Ultimately. their survival depends on it.
Q: What’s the most common advice you give financial institutions?
A: We tell them to act on their customer insights. Last year, U.S. institutions spent over $20 billion in data and analytics solutions. We devote an enormous amount of effort to data, research, process and committees – and not enough on action. At Saylent, we were founded to provide the tools to glean intelligence from data. And we did that. In our early years we would refine and factor the data and charts. We would sit with FIs to examine, explain and extend the analysis. But we changed course after seeing that 90 percent of our effort was based there and only 10 percent of our time was spent on taking the next step. That’s not the right balance.
Here is the truth of data and analytics: If you don’t do anything with it, it’s an expensive consulting engagement. It’s just a pretty picture and an easier excel spreadsheet. To truly turn data into value, you must act. You have to do something about it. If you don’t, your customers will act in a way you don’t want, probably with someone else.
Q: How do you get your team to get creative in what can be viewed as a somewhat dry industry such as banking?
A: That perception, and the truth behind it, is what we are working to change with relevancy and personalization. Helping a bank deliver the right message at the right time – when a customer really needs it – is anything but dry. Acting on data lets us create vivid, valued experiences that make a difference in peoples’ lives. And that’s the crux of personalization. Getting creative with data is the future of banking.
Nargassans’ Top Five Marketing Tips
- Your current customers are more important than the next new customer.
- Each customer has their own need – find it
- Your customers want your help. If you don’t give it, they will find someone who will.
- Knowing their name is important; knowing their need is more important.
- Customer engagement isn’t a campaign; it’s a mindset.