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A CX that plays for keeps


Is the world more connected today than it was a year ago? We’ve adopted Zoom calls and digital services faster than ever before, but many of us haven’t seen our extended family in months, much less visited the friendly staff at our neighborhood bank branch.

Consumers interact with their institutions mostly through technology. Personalization can enrich the digital experience, preserving and deepening financial relationships. As the dust settles from COVID-19, financial institutions should have one customer service goal for 2021 and beyond: Play for keeps.

Playing for keeps means ensuring new customers receive a personalized experience from the beginning. It means anticipating consumer needs to help them quickly solve for that need, even when they search online. Potential customers should find you, see a result crafted for someone like them, and then land on a page with information on the product they were interested in.

Survey results suggest that about 93 percent of financial institutions have more success converting new and cross-sell prospects when they personalize marketing in this way.

Building a deeper relationship

Many community financial institutions have strategic advantages over competitors because of their investment in branches and the quality of service. An effective combination of digital and legacy banking can often bring early, easy wins that provide a great experience and solidify a long-term relationship. But the handoff between staff and systems also is the most common breaking point for engagement.

As an example, a financial institution in California with more than 75,000 account holders sought to improve its depositor experience. The institution reported stellar service results from the branch team tasked with opening new accounts. When audited for the experience provided, the staff consistently went above and beyond at the time of account opening.

The bad news? New depositors didn’t receive any communication for two weeks after opening the new account. They received no follow-up by email or phone to further engage them after such a personalized, one-on-one introduction to the brand. Long-standing account holders also saw no automated, segmented messages that would help uncover additional needs.

It’s important for new depositors to receive five to seven communications from their financial institution in the first 90 days. For customers who had been successfully onboarded, the institution also needed to identify their additional needs and put them on journeys to deepen those relationships.

These communications should be relevant, personalized and triggered automatically. Using characteristics identified through data analysis, the California institution created marketing segments to target depositors most likely to benefit from the organization’s wider menu of products and services as part of its effort to heighten engagement during the onboarding process and use personalized, multi-channel journeys to cross-sell account holders.

Accessing new customer segments

When it comes to growing deposits, evaluating existing customers’ needs can be cost-effective and increase customer loyalty.

A financial institution in the Midwest set a goal of increasing its open rate on deposit accounts and lowering its average depositor age. This institution targeted a 10 percent growth rate to put it more in line with national averages, and the institution wanted to expand more into the millennial market.

The institution adopted two tactics to try to reach its growth goals: choose two targeted segments per quarter and provide them content directed at their life stage. Targeted segments included customers with college-age teens in the household, loan-only customers in their early 20s to late 30s, and new mortgage customers. It also worked to identify current customers without checking accounts and define specific segments to build offers and encourage opening an account online.

Customer experience optimization is a key step on a financial institution’s digital journey. The goal, however, should not be to use data solely to float products and services to consumers. The real objective should be serving borrowers and depositors so well that they have the confidence that their financial service provider has their best interests at heart, a concept known as customer advocacy.

To become that advocate, institutions need technology that can grab quick wins like segmentation and marketing journeys. Then, with staff freed from manual processes and custom messages, financial institutions truly can drill down on the interactions that delight prospects, depositors and borrowers. The resulting experience will create real, personal, lifelong connection with a brand.

J.J. Slygh, is a customer experience consultant for Total Expert.