A human connection in banking is still essential to engage consumers and deliver a high-quality customer experience.
Despite our increasingly digital-centric world, consumers — even millennials — still value a human connection. And that feeling extends to their relationships with financial institutions. From person-to-person interaction to bringing a strong personal touch to your communications, you can give customers what they want in a bank today — the best of both the human and digital worlds.
Here we share tips to help financial institutions maintain that human connection, with an emphasis on personalized banking strategies that resonate within and without the digital environment.
Bridging the Engagement Gap
Pain point: Consumers are disengaged from financial institutions. There is still a lack of trust, and relationships tend to be purely transactional. Many financial institutions aren’t helping the situation. Their systems and departments are still siloed, they don’t have a single, comprehensive customer view, and they’re not connecting experiences across various digital and non-digital environments.
In short, there is a disconnect between what financial institutions are providing and what customers want. Technology and software company Thunderhead has dubbed this the “engagement gap.” And a Facebook study showed that just 41 percent of gen Xers and baby boomers, and 32 percent of millennials, think their financial institution really understands them.
Solution: Bridging the engagement gap comes down to building meaningful customer relationships on a personal level. The financial services marketing mindset needs to shift beyond transactions, products and services to a human-centric approach that provides highly individualized interactions.
- A core factor in achieving this approach is leveraging multiple data sources to build a comprehensive view of individual customers. This needs to extend beyond basic demographic and transactional information to encompass other behaviors, preferences and emotions — particularly in relation to finances.
- You can then map each customer profile, or persona, to products and services — rather than the other way around. The goal is to connect the customer journey regardless of (or inclusive of) channels. After all, consumers think of you as a singular financial institution, rather than a company divided by departments, products or even channels. They should be able to connect and interact with you seamlessly throughout their journey and every touchpoint.
- Along the way, don’t overlook the value of face-to-face, in-branch human communication. While digital tools and services are great for providing convenience and ease, they can’t create emotional connections in the way that your front-line staff can. Encourage branch employees to talk with customers and discover what’s important in their life, their goals and their financial-related anxieties. Then provide staff with the training they need to provide basic financial wellness information and tools to address those customer needs.
Making Financial Education Personal
Pain point: According to an ABA Bank Marketing podcast, more than two-thirds of millennials have never had any formal education on personal finance, which means they have questions about even basic tasks, such as creating budgets, smart saving and making major purchase decisions. Consumers of every generation often feel confused, anxious or frustrated when trying to manage more complicated financial matters, such as investments.
Yet, according to an Accenture survey, nearly 80 percent of consumers view their relationship with their financial institution purely in terms of transactions. They’re going elsewhere for the advice they need — and that presents a huge opportunity for financial institutions.
Solution: To reposition yourself as a financial advisor as well as a transaction center means providing customers with educational content that helps them better understand and manage their finances. This is a major step toward creating an essential human connection in your banking world.
The more personalized you can make the content, the better. Consider creating a library of content that addresses wide-ranging customer needs and interests. Have it ready to send when a customer asks a question, takes an action or indicates an emotion related to one of your content pieces.
To take personalized banking content even deeper, go back to your data analysis and customer personas. Use modern technology tactics to predict needs and pain points for each customer. Then deliver individualized content campaigns with information, tools and products that provide direct value to alleviate the customer’s concern.
The next step is to base your content not only on the past, but also on the future. Data analysis can help you anticipate potential needs based on past and current behaviors. You can then place yourself in the enviable position of being able to proactively present customers with the information they need, rather than making them search for it.
Refining the Customer Experience
Pain point: Maintaining that human connection in banking also relies heavily on developing strategies to improve customer service in banking and providing a frictionless customer experience.
Solution: Despite our digitally focused culture, financial institutions have found that physical branches are still vital to the customer experience. Yet, the traditional branch itself is ripe for renovation. Some banks are revitalizing their branches to have a more “coffee bar” design or repositioning them as financial advice centers. The goal here is to create a friendlier environment that helps to not only provide personal service, but also enhances the customers’ emotional connection to your organization.
How customers interact with their banks must, of course, still have a comprehensive digital component today. One way some banks are upping the customization level digitally is through financial dashboards that give customers an at-a-glance view of their complete financial picture, from transactions to personalized budgets. Some of these dashboards, like BB&T’s U platform, provide customization options that let customers adjust the design, view and even colors.
Of course, it remains imperative that customers can easily manage all of their banking tasks regardless of which channel they choose to interact through. And they should be able to connect with a real person easily and, again, through multiple channels — whether it’s scheduling an in-person consultation, chatting online, having a dialogue on social media or conversing via email.
The Bottom Line
Today’s technologies offer a major opportunity for financial institutions to gather, compile, analyze and use data to create a more personalized banking experience that can help you close the engagement gap across every channel. It’s work. But the rewards are well worthwhile.