We all hear a lot about “customer service” and “customer engagement.” Many people think the phrases have the same meaning, but in fact, they’re two entirely different things.
Customer engagement is subtler. It’s daily, continuous, unobvious, sometimes unintentional, often unspoken—and it’s everywhere. And since the pandemic has reduced traffic to bank and credit union branches, customer engagement through brand experience and the customer journey is more important than ever.
It’s useful to understand the difference between the two and to deliver on both during times of change. It’s especially important in the financial services industry, where customer satisfaction is typically the basis of business success.
The ability to engage on a daily, continuous and everywhere basis is the key business challenge facing financial institutions today. Just about everyone is searching for new and innovative ways to deliver customer engagement along the lines of widely considered masters such as Amazon, Google, Apple, Netflix and Starbucks. In fact, consumers are 85% more likely to recommend a financial institution after a “very good” customer experience.
Luckily, a great way to deliver quality customer engagement has been in your hip pockets the whole time.
It’s your card program. Yes, your card program. That check-the-box task during account opening that organizations often see as simply a noninterest income generator, rather than the powerful strategic differentiator that emerging technology has helped it become.
Your card program serves as a daily reminder of your institution’s innovation, personalization and relevance. Many cardholders form an emotional attachment to their cards. They love their cards. How much? Let’s count the ways.
They’re loyal: Financial institutions that offer the virtually limitless customization options available today produce cards that simply get used more. Their cards are given priority by cardholders, achieving top-of-wallet status while increasing customer engagement. Customization can increase usage by as much as 21% over generic cards.
They’re aware: When new trends and technologies emerge, especially those that transform experiences, your customers are the first to know about it. Dual-interface cards offer a choice of payment technologies—contact (EMV chip) or contactless (tap-and-go antennae). This flexibility is one of many reasons why dual-interface cards are widely considered the foundational card-payment technology moving forward.
They’re responsible and caring: Consumers are increasingly conscious of the environmental impact of the companies they do business with. Offering cards made from recovered ocean-bound plastic is one way to attract those customers. Made from upcycled plastic waste, these cards have the potential to keep significant amounts of plastic out of the world’s waterways and shorelines.
They’re proud: Babies, besties, favorite vacation spot or even their dog—cardholders love to personalize their cards with images of the people, places and things they value most.
Their expectations are rising: Today’s consumers expect instant access to everything, including their credit- and debit-card accounts. Instant card issuance is now a must-have service to make cardholders happy, increase card usage and boost brand awareness.
Consumers want the card that everyone is talking about—and using. Rebrand your cards with the latest technology—clear cards, metal cards, translucent cards, full-face foil, metallic inks and pearl overlays—to create distinction and compete more effectively in your market.
When was the last time you took a good, hard look at the customer engagement potential of payment cards? Card programs have the ability to connect you—even emotionally—with customers everywhere, several times a day, every day. Even in all of the places you are not.
In today’s competitive environment, it is crucial to make the most of your card program by driving what matters to your financial institution: affordable innovation, brand awareness, revenue and—most important—customer engagement.
Nicole Machado is the executive director for card services at Vericast.
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