Customers are expecting more and more from their online banking experiences. Financial marketers will have to find new and innovative ways to meet customer expectations at every point of contact, especially when it comes to digital marketing. With mobile digital devices only becoming more popular with younger generations (future banking customers), one challenge lies creating a seamless experience across multiple devices.
Banks must realize that the adoption of a new digital channel doesn’t mean a reduced demand for existing channels. Rather, the channels must be integrated to create a unified, but not uniform, brand experience while providing services relevant to the channel and the customer’s behavior.
The second challenge facing financial marketers in the digital world is how to get the right relevant content to the right customer at the right time and on the right device. The good news is that banks already have a lot of the data they need to create this type of experience, but most haven’t invested in the technology to make it a reality.
More devices mean there are more touchpoints that enable consumers to interact with banks, and they expect these interactions to be cohesive but not identical. The fact that many banks still haven’t created optimal online experiences for their traditional websites means that they’re worryingly behind when it comes to answering the customer’s desire for interactions tailored to mobiles and tablets. When you consider that the next generation of banking customers, born in the 90s, according to Forrester’s 2011 report Next-Generation Digital Financial Services:
Just expect to interact with firms via a growing number of digital touchpoints and to be able to find product information and access and manage all of their policies and accounts through them.
Banks must start looking at how customers are using their devices socially, situationally and behaviorally. For digital marketers, this means finding a way to create a unified experience across all the channels and exploring how consumers use them to interact with the bank. One option is to think about how different devices are actually suited to different attitudes: the quick, the casual, the focused and the physical. It may also be advisable to stop thinking of all of these devices as being one channel, but instead as individual digital channels.
Once banks have got to grips with making content relevant to each digital channel/device, digital marketers will have their work cut out for them. They must begin creating relevant experiences with content that’s responsive to the device they’re using. The very first step in making an experience consumer-relevant is to make it feel personal. Use your customer’s name in emails, include a personalized welcome or login message on your website, use past behaviors to anticipate future behavior and try to answer questions before they’re asked. Your customer should feel as though you know who they are and care about their needs and wants. Relationships are by nature reciprocal; when a customer feels cared for, they will endeavor to maintain the relationship and perhaps even become a that rarest of creatures, a brand advocate.
The most important thing to realize about all of these changes is that they bring with them a multitude of new opportunities to engage with existing customers and to win new ones. Banks and marketers that embrace them quickly and effectively have the potential to make huge gains against those who don’t. The key word here being ‘effectively’. Jumping into the digital pool without proper planning could be disastrous, especially if your bank subscribes to the ‘silo’ structure mentality. The only way to really capitalize on the opportunities brought about by adding new digital channels is to make sure everyone is onboard, otherwise any cross-channel marketing campaigns will fail.
The customer’s journey, from the time they check your bank’s rates with their phone, take a closer look using their tablet, decide to apply for a loan on their desktop, realize they need more information from the helpline and show up at the branch to sign the contract, must be seamless. If information at any point along this journey is contradictory, or the customer feels there’s a lack of transparency, you can consider them lost.
Note that we also mention traditional banking touchpoints, like the call center and branch. These two channels remain relevant to the customer, so they must be kept in the loop about everything that happens on the digital channels. Imagine a customer learns about a new product online and goes to a branch for more information, only to discover the teller knows nothing about the new product – that’s one customer gone for good! Multiple channels demand cohesive cross- channel marketing, which in turn relies on a centralized communication structure.
A customer’s journey, until they’re ready to commit, spans several touchpoints. Each one is an opportunity to build the relationship:
Consider also the opportunity of reducing costs by shifting more sales to the online channels. In their 2011 report, Boosting Relevance and Returns: Improving the Digital Channel in Banking, Accenture noted:
A major US financial services company with which Accenture worked to implement data management best practices, automate analytics, build a performance dashboard, and design an overall channel and product development strategy. With these improvements in place the company was able to shift more than one-third of its sales to the online channel, gain process efficiencies, reduce time-to-market, and achieve a significant increase in revenue.
It’s interesting to note that the shift in sales to the online channel didn’t negatively impact sales for the branch. Customers were waiting for the bank to join them online, once the bank did so in a way that was beneficial to the customer’s wants (adapted to their behavior and met their expectations) online sales went through the roof.
Digital marketers must not only create a unified but not uniform digital experience across multiple devices with content relevant to behaviors associated to them, they must also ensure that content is uniquely relevant to the individual customer. The only truly workable, responsive and agile solution is to build a single platform that manages all digital channels and creates a centralized point of communication for all channels.
One option is to empower the customer to create their own experience. Making them complicit in the creation of their online environment will not only help by marketers by generating customer specific data, it also gives the consumer a sense of investment, which strengthens brand loyalty. A short-term win with long-term impact!