We all know the importance of a strong start to a customer relationship: It’s why we spend so much time on proper onboarding. But what good is a start if it’s also the stop?
A 2017 Deloitte study of digitally native retail banking customers found that 29 percent were dissatisfied with their onboarding, partly because they expected a bank follow up after their account was open. These customers were forced to follow up with the banks instead, “a clear, and frankly elementary, customer service failure by banks,” as Deloitte says.
Digitally native customers will soon be your only customers. The Facebooks, Googles and Amazons of the world have conditioned them to expect a sense of connection that extends to their banks. If you don’t invest in digital customer engagement—and meet their needs for continuous, direct, personalized interactions—you will leave them dissatisfied. They want to feel like you know and care about them. Checking in on customers post-onboarding is just one way to meet this expectation and imperative for positive consumer experiences in 2019 and beyond.
What banks lose when they don’t engage customers
In the past, the common advice was to remain unobtrusive. Who wants to interact with their bank, after all? Well, the newest generation of customers does. As the Deloitte study notes, “Lower satisfaction scores found among digital-only customers are largely driven by weaker performance across three factors in the study: communication and advice; products and fees; and new account openings.”
Let’s look closer at that last factor. According to BAI Banking Outlook research for 2019, customers who open an online account pick an online-only bank two-thirds of the time. Such organizations don’t have the overhead of a branch network or the burden of legacy data systems that don’t efficiently talk to each other.
What’s more, the trusted local branch banker doesn’t exist for an audience that deposits checks online and pays only with cards. Where you could once count on your employees to walk customers through next steps and introduce potentially helpful products, you must now make these suggestions digitally.
Replicating that combination of personal knowledge and opportunity identification—when someone visits the bank and mentions an upcoming trip, for example—takes effort, but it’s not impossible. Banks have enough individual and aggregate customer data to know what people need and when they’ll need it. It means recognizing the gap and delivering the solution within the right context at the right time. Gartner calls this “effortless experience,” and it’s critical if you want to grow customer trust, increase deposits, and get account holders to take the actions you need.
Onboarding always starts the journey
Consider how account opening used to work: Someone might visit a branch, speak with a banker, open a checking account and then continue to drop by every few weeks to deposit checks and/or withdraw cash. Follow-ups were built into the process. Today, all those steps might happen online or at ATMs, which eliminates the opportunity for bank employees to make customers feel valued.
Fortunately, digital also unveils almost endless new opportunities to engage customers. Every time they search for a nearby ATM, deposit a check, check balances or incur a fee, marketers call it a “micromoment”: a digital interaction where brands can build deeper relationships.
Taking advantage of these micromoments allows banks to build strong customer relationships and boost lifetime value.
A simple post-onboarding welcome message increases the likelihood of engagement with your subsequent messages by 30 percent. It not only conditions customers to expect outreach; it also shows you care. In the Deloitte study, lack of bank follow-up irked digital natives, both because they didn’t know what to do next and it made the relationship feel transactional. Personalized messages timed to the first “micromoment” will assuage such anxieties and give customers a sense they’re part of your team, not just an interchangeable part.
Automated outreach via reading the micromoment
You’ve onboarded a customer and welcomed them with follow-ups. Now you have a new digital channel to communicate valuable opportunities.
If you train users to expect mobile messages, then hope they seek personalized guidance at a branch, you risk losing an invaluable connection that builds trust and expands product usage. Perhaps you want to offer students their first credit card or a mortgage when they’re halfway through their loan repayment. Banks go to great lengths to identify prospective clients. But if they’re smart about digital engagement, they only need tap the micromoments happening in front of them.
“Enterprises must pivot toward delivering proactive, hyper-personalized content and services when and where a consumer needs or wants them,” Forrester says in its report on the value of mobile engagement. Finding your customers in micromoments is crucial but you can maximize them with useful advice or guides, new and appropriate products, or services catered to their situations.
So beyond one-on-one relationships between teller and customer—and infrequent branch drop-ins—you can now access a vast database that shows:
- when customers call the help desk
- the actions they take before opening new accounts
- what it looks like when they’re about to leave your bank altogether
You can then use that information to preempt these actions and steer customers down the right path with timely, relevant mobile messages.
Ongoing engagement drives greater lifetime value
The old set-it-forget-it relationship model may have worked once. But millennials who want consistent engagement and information—particularly about their money—don’t consider that a viable option. They welcome extra guidance through onboarding, account activation and loan applications, as well as intermittent check-ins that give the sense that you have their best interests at heart.
Yet these experiences must still cross Gartner’s “effortless experience” threshold. That means easy access via mobile, where so many digital natives turn first—and responding to micromoments as a customer experiences them.
Doing both, you give customers all the benefits of an in-person experience with the convenience of digital engagement. This one-two combo wins loyalty to grow business—and can turn potential stops into starts.
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Brie Tascione is chief marketing officer at Relay Network.