Jaime Deterding_resized
Jamie Deterding Jan 13, 2017

Green alert: How proactive alerts drive customer engagement

For consumers, alerts have become commonplace. Airlines issue travel alerts; retail stores announce sales; and media outlets inform us about breaking news. It’s important for financial institutions to match that experience.

Meanwhile, today’s consumers seek more control of their finances — and want real-time information to help guide decision-making. This trend creates a new opportunity to deepen customer relationships. Financial institutions that deploy a proactive alert strategy — one that enables customers to act immediately on the information provided — can establish themselves as true partners in their customers’ financial lives.

Below we outline the dimensions along which a successful strategy can unfold.

Consider the need

In an age of ubiquitous smart devices, banks can deliver alerts through different channels. Today, most consumers receive alerts via email. The second most common method is through text messages, followed by phone calls. Online and focus group studies conducted by Fiserv in 2015 indicated that the top alerts of interest to customers, ranked in order of importance, are:

  1. Unusual amount of activity on credit cards or at ATMs
  2. Credit card and debit card transactions that exceed a defined limit, are declined or occur out of usual geographic area
  3. Requests to confirm changes in account access for contact information or access from unknown devices

Financial institutions that strive to open and strengthen engagement with customers should tailor their communications according to these preferences.

Get the goals in order

Promoting alerts can drive service adoption and strengthen relationships. Here are some ways financial institutions can engage customers:

Think “customer first.” Understand which types of alerts and notifications customers want—and when they want to receive them. Make sure it’s easy for customers to set up alerts. If using icons, financial institutions should place a link on their home page to help raise awareness of each one’s meaning.

Create relationships. Communicate with proactive alerts to build trust. Alerts represent just one way financial institutions can stay connected, while helping maintain and strengthen relationships in a digital environment (where there is far less personal interaction than in branches). Managed correctly, alerts foster a daily conversation with customers.

Alerting can also improve customer service and promote future sales opportunities. Customers can benefit from an alert strategy that helps them stay on budget, pay bills on time and take advantage of money-saving opportunities they learn about through a proactive “push” notification.

Empower customers. Encourage customers to seek insight and advice from their financial institution when managing their financial life. Financial institutions have a responsibility to monitor accounts for fraudulent activity, data breaches and account takeovers. But alerts can also entice customers to seek insight and advice that enables them to manage their finances more effectively.

Make it actionable. Make it easy for customers to take action on information by providing an efficient way to manage security and money movement. For example: Give customers the ability to immediately transfer money upon receiving an alert.

Behold the bright future

According to the Javelin Strategy & Research Advisory Services Report, “Push Notifications Change the Game for Financial Alerts,” push notifications are expected to become central to consumers’ lives within the next five years. In fact, more than half of online consumers expect to receive financial alerts by 2019.

That trend opens up a world of possibilities for bankers to nurture customer relationships. Imagine the opportunities that could arise from integrating the alerting platform with the lending, credit or investment services platforms. Potential conversations could include: “You’ve just deposited a large sum in your savings account. We can offer you a better rate with our mutual funds. Would you like to learn more?” or “Your car lease expires in three months. It might be time to speak with us about our new lease rates.” This type of enhanced engagement builds trust with customers and promotes new opportunities for the financial institution.  

Make Alerts a Priority

Timely, relevant, actionable alerts are growing in demand. New technologies have emerged to offer financial institutions the ability and opportunity to upgrade their alert strategy. Success requires investing in alerts to achieve stronger engagement and greater opportunities for fraud mitigation, cross-sales and fee generation.

Financial institutions have a major opportunity to redefine their alerting approach to match what customers demand, make their products more interactive and generate value. Organizations that take a leadership role in this area will reap the rewards—which is certainly information worth sharing.

Jamie Deterding is senior vice president, product management, Bank Solutions for Fiserv. With the company since 1986, he has previously overseen the direction and development of core platforms, online and branch products and services. 

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