Using social media principles to better meet customer expectations

As financial services companies leverage new technologies to reach and engage consumers in more captivating ways, it advances the need for the industry to meet new standards of customer experience.

Social media is setting new criteria for not only reaching consumers, but also engaging and entertaining them as well. In order to meet the standards set by social media, financial services providers need to engage the four key principles of social media – fun, choice, discoverability and ease of use – across their digital capabilities to truly exceed their customer’s constantly evolving expectations.

So what does this really mean for financial institutions? First and foremost, banks and credit unions must start by identifying their engagement challenges and recognizing that customers are demanding more digital banking capabilities. Deloitte recently shared that banks around the world are already realizing how investments in digital technologies benefit customer acquisition and satisfaction, which has pushed the industry to invest heavily in the enhancement of digital capabilities.

All of these are components of an effort by organizations to merge physical and digital connections, increase customer loyalty and satisfaction, drive an emotional connection with customers and exceed customer expectations. Banks are reworking their communications strategies to meet immediate needs of their customers while also laying the groundwork to exceed expectations in the years to come.

In reworking these strategies, it’s important to utilize the principles of social media – the “why” behind what makes social media so essential to consumers daily lives.

To generate leads and establish trust, banks need fun, fresh and personalized content delivered to the right person at the right time. Many community banks don’t have large marketing staffs to create exciting, relevant content, but there are two keys to success: community information and technology.

The community is constantly generating new events – the local blood drive, fundraising for a favorite charity or opening a new business. While the bank probably already supports some of these, and it’s important to include them in digital marketing efforts. Use the digital channel to announce an event or new business relevant to the bank’s community. It’s free content that is relevant and will develop a warm sense of local involvement.

Use technology to create relevant content for each customer. A smart marketing system should include a rules-based or AI-based tool that automatically matches the right product to the right customer. This element of automation is a critical leverage point, making it possible to provide relevant offers, without a huge overhead burden. Every time the bank’s team launches a new product or promotion, make sure it’s included across all digital channels.

Additionally, with expectations set by social media platforms, financial services providers need to leverage technology that can help them provide innovative digital services – capturing and sharing visual stories that entice, engage, and entertain their audience (i.e., customers) using data that the bank already owns to create an engaging and personalized financial story for each individual customer.

The key here is to use technology in a way that makes existing information exciting. A brief video snippet featuring a staff member talking about financial planning is far more engaging than a banner ad and can be reused across social media channels. The video could simply be created on a smartphone – consumers like authentic messaging. The key is to put it on both mobile and internet platforms.

Smart technology helps the bank’s marketing department utilize their customer’s data to target them with more relevant and meaningful messages. With an accelerating shift toward digital experiences, this can enhance customer engagement across the bank’s platform – and ultimately help drive more loan and deposit products via the bank’s digital channels.

Everyone has experienced Amazon’s uncanny ability to suggest the right next product, or laughed over a Facebook video or Instagram stories. Look around for what delights the consumer and ask how could these lessons apply to your bank. Open an account on newer platforms like TikTok and follow topics of interest to the bank and its customers. This is a window into high-tech marketing, and many of the lessons are free.

While shifting to a more digital-first strategy may seem radical to some, many institutions have recognized it as a key way to position themselves for the future – one in which the bank-customer relationship is increasingly established and nurtured digitally.

Jill Homan is president of DeepTarget.

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