CSP Happenings





Topic: Customer Service Experience

Transform Your Social Media’s Role

September 20, 2020

Your financial institution’s social media strategy may feel inconsequential. After, all, if every organization has a social media account, aren’t infrequent posts enough to get by?

While this type of thinking can be alluring, the reality is that if you aren’t taking your social media strategy seriously, you are leaving money on the table and customers out in the cold. Think about ways you can use your social media not as simply a message board, but as a way to drive sales, develop your brand and acquire customers.

One-Way Promotions to Two-Way Communication

Think of posts not just as a message board, but as the beginning of a conversation. When your customers posts responses, follow up with them, whether good or bad. By addressing shortcomings and celebrating positive feedback from customers on your social media posts, your organization is winning by become real, approachable, interactive, and gaining the intrinsic qualities of a person, rather than a lifeless organization.

In particular, when dealing with negative feedback, address concerns with your customer in the post, and then follow up in direct messages to help address their concerns. Escalating the issue at hand and working toward a resolution shows your organization will go above and beyond for your customers, and other customers will take note.

From Information to Personality

Rather than simply trying to communicate information in a sterile, matter-of-fact tone, think about how your social media accounts can bring life into your posts. Consider the following when thinking about your brand’s “voice”:

  • Who is your target? By thinking about your target market, you can tailor your brand’s voice around that. By focusing on younger Gen Z and Millennial consumers, adopting an exceedingly informal tone may benefit you. Maybe you have a niche audience or industry you’re targeting. Keep these things in mind to help develop your brand’s identity.
  • What is your strength? Your brand’s social media presence should always play to your strengths. Think about what you do well, and put that message on full blast.
  • Create comprehensive marketing. Most importantly, be consistent! Across your different marketing materials and social media accounts, having consistent branding and tone will help establish your brand and make you memorable.
Transition From Advertiser to Marketplace

Current and potential customers should be able to take action on your social media accounts, including direct links to create an account or easily access their own. Think about the way you incorporate landing pages into your posts. In particular, if you are promoting a product or service, give clear instructions, provide linking to the next step and make sure that process is easy and intuitive from end to end. This sales funnel can be incredibly effective when it functions correctly, and putting attention into details will reap rewards for your financial institution.

Banking With Gen Z



Move over Millennials, Gen Z now has a seat at the financial table.

It may be hard for older professionals to believe, but the oldest Gen Z consumers are already 23 years old and some have entered the workforce. Banks and credit unions should treat this generation as a huge opportunity: an opportunity to establish lifelong customers early in their careers with massive growth potential, to stay ahead of the curve of evolving consumer expectations, and to expand the way financial institutions provide value to customers. Consider the following when thinking about your Gen Z customer acquisition stragegy.

Focus On Your Mobile Experience

Dialing in your mobile experience should be priority #1 for Gen Z. Gen Z is still in a phase where they are likely to use physical branches outside of COVID-19 due to economic insecurity and being in the early stages of their financial lives, but they’re also heavily dependent on mobile, conducting transactions with regularity and expecting a fluent omni-channel experience. Intuitive interfaces, easy help, dashboards that help them make sense of finances and new features like AI and sophisticated chatbots can all help aid the mobile experience for Gen Z.

The Expectations Are Higher

Along with having more mobile interactions, Gen Z simply has higher expectations when it comes to their digital interactions with a brand or service. This younger generations is too young to have gone through the same digital struggles of past generations, such as clunky interfaces or semi-regular bugs, so creating a fluent and well-oiled experience is of the utmost importance for wooing this generation.

In some ways, this goes with other trends we’re seeing, but financial institutions should work to be more consultative with Gen Z consumers. Specifically, helping to provide valuable insight into their finances will be huge for this generation moving forward. Pertinent analytics about their financial health and spending habits is a great place to start, and organizations that can capture this in a meaningful way will win a large market share of this generation in the future.

Gen Z Hates Debt

Learning from their older Millennial peers, Gen Z is uniquely aware of the debt they have incurred or are currently incurring while in school, or they’re taking active steps to avoid taking on student debt by exploring other options of employment and education. Regardless of their personal circumstances, as a generation, they are hyper-aware of debt and are vigilant to avoid to at all costs. This specific insight should provide a template for financial institutions. How can they help this generation conquer debt? How can customer data be uniquely used to process this information, provide a clear picture, and provide realistic goals? Using Gen Z data to help them achieve their goals, particularly in terms of debt, will separate winners and losers moving forward when working to acquire this next generation of customers.

Your Financial Institution’s Potential to Serve



To put it lightly, customer service has changed in the past decade. To put it accurately, customer service and experience has completely transformed, and like other industries, financial services must continue to evolve and grow with customer demands.

Specifically, banks and credit unions have traditionally provided value in ways separate from customer experience. Security, regulation and legal protection are core characteristics of financial institutions, and will always be valuable.

However, customers now have higher expectations for banks, and are looking for an enhanced customer experience that impacts their lives. Consider the following ways your organization can be a servant to your customers’ needs, goals and aspirations.

Serve Budgeting

Budgeting is one of the most tangible ways a financial institution can utilize customer data to provide unique value. There is a catch, however – it has to be useful and meaningful.

In this sense, think about if your organization is ready and willing to provide this feature, and if so, dive in. Poorly-categorized expenses, inability to fully capture all transactions, lack of customization and lack of month-over-month measurement are key downfalls of budgeting apps and interfaces. If you can overcome these barriers, you open the opportunity to become a meaningful part of your customers’ day-to-day lives.

Serve Unique Opportunities

With access to customers’ financial information, your financial institution can provide information about unique opportunities customers will want to utilize. Utilizing information like their age, spending habits and monthly income, you can make targeted and customized recommendations for products like investment accounts, life insurance and other types of loans when you think your customer will need them.

Be a Knowledge Expert

The financial world is always changing, and it’s sometimes hard for average consumers to keep up. Financial institutions should bear this load for their customers, giving them only the most pertinent information about macro-economic trends and the ways they impact individuals’ finances. Think about one-time COVID-payments, Roth IRA cap increases, and tax changes as opportunities to provide unique value to your customers based on their unique financial pictures.

Protect their Downside

Security is hugely important for consumers, and most Americans are trying to self-educate and make smart decisions, particularly in terms of the ways they incur debt and how that might pay off for them in the future. With a wealth of experience, banks and credit unions should work to advise consumers about this, warn them when they might be over-leveraged, and provide resources for more in-depth consulting. This provides a potential new stream of revenue for your financial institution, enhances your relationship with your customers, and most importantly, protects their financial wellbeing in order to create a meaningful and valuable relationship.

Reimagining the Modern Financial Institution

August 25, 2020

One of the biggest exciting-yet-uncomfortable realities of financial services is how much the role of financial institutions is changing. For executives and directors, this can be extremely unnerving. Ideas of digital transformation and customer engagement come to mind, but it’s hard to see how those ideas look in practice without a full understanding of the opportunities new technology presents and how information sharing is applied in a meaningful way.

In order to understand the true value of financial services in 2020 and beyond, executives need to think of their financial institutions less as isolated businesses that provide a service, and more as background players who will be constantly, albeit less obviously, present in their customers’ lives. Customers won’t necessarily go to the bank or credit union; instead, the financial institution will always be there — when grocery shopping, browsing online or getting your oil changed. Consider the following mental transitions your financial institution can make to rethink the way you interact with your customers.

From Bottleneck to Door Opener

Banks and credit unions have always served a major role as a protector of their clients wealth and information. Security and regulation are staples of financial services, and these pieces should never be taken for granted. However, younger customers have higher expectations for how technology should work for them across all sectors of their consumer lives, and having a financial institution that gets in the way has the potential to frustrate customers, even if done so in the interest of security.

Instead, financial institutions are maintaining their high levels of customer security while also streamlining and opening opportunities for the way customer data can be utilized to benefit these individuals.

A major piece of this puzzle is the role financial institutions have as guardians and beneficiaries of their customer data. Historically, financial institutions have always had huge amounts of intimate customer data. In 2020 and beyond, these financial institutions have a responsibility and a major competitive advantage to enhance and utilize that data.

From Centralized to Information-Fluent

When we think of digital banking, we think of a stand-alone platform; log-in screens, account dashboards and security questions come to mind. This current setup is valuable and won’t go away any time soon. However, rather than serving as a stand-alone platform, financial services will increasingly become a lens through which commerce and online activities function. Perhaps more accurately, financial institutions will always be in the background, whether by providing customer security during a transaction, leveraging customer data to make purchase recommendations or streamlining the online shopping process.

Additionally, this will come in the form of increased information sharing. With the Internet of Things taking off and a higher expectation around interaction of mobile devices with other kiosks, banks and credit unions will be expected to protect customer privacy while, within regulation, readily sharing customer information with other devices. Rewards, vital customer information and speed of purchase all benefit from this ease of exchanged information.

Obstacles and Solutions for Digital Transformation



Updating digital systems in financial services can be expensive, inconvenient, and down right intimidating. Most organizations are concerned with their day-to-day, and are often so focused on their current performance metrics, that it’s hard to step back and imagine tearing that entire system apart.

However, tearing your current digital platform apart opens the door for new revenue opportunities, enhanced customer experience, and a new level of growth for your financial institution. Consider the following barriers and how you can help your organization overcome them.

Lack of Explicit Need

Sometimes, financial institutions struggle with the logic of replacing something that is working perfectly well. Most financial institutions have mobile banking that is functional and meets their clients’ basic needs. While this current system in place is great, executives and their organizations may be missing out on major growth opportunities by not re-examining and improving their digital offerings.

Simply put, you don’t know what you don’t know. Or, in this case, you don’t know what business opportunities your organization is missing. Consider just a few of the potential offerings:

  • Customized marketing opportunities. By enhancing your digital platform, your organization can create customized, timely marketing for your internal products, based on customer needs, and informed by data.
  • FinTech partners. It’s hard to emphasize the value of FinTech partners enough. These organizations can utilize your customer base and bring you value through digital innovation. Best of all, by providing your customer base, you’re already bringing value to the table for them, giving you leverage for low- and no-cost partnerships.
  • Better security. Your outdated platform might have holes in its security, or at best, it’s falling short of enhanced standards in customer data protection.
Replacing Outdated Systems With Utilitarian Infrastructure

Many organizations face this issue of the status quo with their IT systems — using programming languages that are outdated, and often require expert knowledge to operate due to their archaic nature and complexity. Similarly, the individuals who understand how to operate these systems may be resistant to change. After all, by maintaining the status quo, they have total control over the current platform, bring value through their ability to navigate that platform, and want to protect their value.

However, executives and directors need to see the bigger picture of their IT infrastructure. In particular, transitioning to an open API is a huge step in the right direction, and should be a short term goal for any organization without this system in place. By transitioning to an open API, your organization opens the door for other innovators, such as FinTech and an abundance of tools, to operate on your platform and utilize your customer data in a way that can enhance the customer experience and accelerate your transformation.

Leveraging Existing Customer Data



Existing customer data gives businesses insights and opportunities otherwise unthinkable as recently as 15 years ago. Stock brokers, Netflix and data miners are all using customer data to anticipate needs, create valuable offerings and better communicate with their customer base. Financial institutions have huge potential with analytics, both in terms of customer data and the capacity to help customers by better understanding their behaviors. With the security of customer data as a top priority for financial institutions, financial institutions have to be careful with how they use customer data in adherence to regulation, but 2020 and beyond will see the full expansion of analytics into the financial realm and a world of new benefits for customers.

Acquisition

Understanding current data about customers helps financial institutions better segment their potential customers based on behaviors and promote to them accordingly. In this way, institutions can expand their reach while also differentiating their client base.

The ability to savvily target outreach for new audiences helps financial institutions grow, but pre-screening and understanding customers they reach out to also helps to identify ideal customers. Financial figures, spending habits and credit all play into a financial institutions target market, and predictive analytics helps identify these people beforehand.

Marketing and Promotions

Understanding current customers and their finances goes a long way. Especially with FinTech partnerships on the rise, financial institutions are finding creatives ways to make offerings to customers. With predictive analytics, those offerings can be budget/income/customer-specific and feel more relevant as a result.

Cross-selling, offering new products, enhancing existing services offered to customers and simply providing a higher level of customer service are all core benefits of predictive analytics when used as a marketing function. Consider an example of a FinTech budgeting tool. Promotions and advertisements, like something a customer might see on a dashboard or as a banner ad, could be personalized and reflect their unique financial behaviors. By promoting in this data-driven format, customers can get a valuable perspective on the benefits of a new tool from a personalized ad.

Screening and Qualification

Pre-screening is a valuable and important step in selling a financial product or service. Whether a car loan, mortgage or a credit card, pre-qualification helps pave the way for an appealing and seamless purchasing experience. Customers will be delighted by not having to go through the screening process, and will feel validated as a result. Additionally, predictive analytics can help promote the right type of product a customer successfully qualifies for, avoiding any annoyances or questions that might arise when an unexpected obstacle could have come up in the past due to their financial standing and history.

Security

Predictive analytics serve an essential security function for financial institutions by identifying fraudulent activity. Understanding customer behavior and buying habits enables predictive analytics to accurately identify outliers in their traditional purchases as a means of preventing identity theft.

Similarly, predictive analytics will play an important role in the future of information sharing. Open banking is taking off, and financial institutions need to be able to secure important customer information while also sharing it with FinTech startups and other partners. Predictive analytics, including the dissemination of that information and the way it’s being accessed, will help to identify any breaches in security quicker and allow institutions to act quickly in the event of a security breach. This idea extends to businesses and other vendors, who will benefit from the quick identification and nullification of fraudulent activity.

The Internet of Things in Banking

July 21, 2020

The Internet of Things (IoT) connects objects other than a computer or a smartphone to the internet, allowing all sorts of devices in stores, town centers, kiosks and stations to have internet compatibility. IoT technology is important for banks and credit unions because it provides a new area to expand their market reach and gather data about their customers.

Importantly, IoT technology elevates the amount of information about customers both during and as a result of the transactions they conduct. Their purchasing behavior becomes documented in a new way, and that information can help retailers and financial institutions alike to provide a more valuable and personalized customer experience.

Wearable Technology

Apparel-based technology, such as wristbands and watches, are a major step in the direction of IoT technology and a major opportunity for early adopters of this technology. These devices allow customers to interact with the kiosks they’re purchasing from in a streamlined way. They can pull up deals, see reward points they might have, and the kiosks can utilize their devices to help personalize their experience.

Along with all of these customer benefits, retailers and financial institutions can gather information easily about their purchasing decisions, categorize their buying behavior, and think about ways to enhance their value as a customer in the future. These devices will see an explosion of growth and adoption over the coming years, and financial institutions who invest now will reap major rewards in the form of customer intimacy.

Data, data, data

By having customer information on-hand in the form of wearable devices, and being able to sense the location of customers, wearable devices present a unique opportunity to quickly process an individual’s likely scenario (where they are shopping), understand their recent purchase history, and combine this information with other data, such as their checking account balance or current promotions on products they’re likely to buy.

Simply put, these features have the capability to revolutionize retail. Consider the following purchasing scenario:

  • Proximity. A customer is near a purchasing location, and their wearable device is processing their purchase history there, identifying any potential opportunities that the customer could benefit from.
  • Shopping. A wearable device can prompt a customer on their last purchase, show discounts that can be automatically applied, remind them of other products they’ve purchased in the past and direct them to where they can find products.
  • Purchase. Customer data shows and utilize any rewards or discounts they can take advantage of. Their purchase can happen using voice-enabled technology, and their information is already stored for an easy transaction. The security measures on both the machine and the wearable device help ensure a secure purchase, and afterwards, their data is automatically stored and categorized.
  • Back-end. Customer data is automatically stored and compiled with other customer data from the day, showing macro-trends in shopping. Financial institutions can compile customers’ personalized data into hyper-focused profiles that show what type of shopper the customer is, along with combining their purchase data into larger data sets across their entire customer base.

These steps and features of wearable devices provide a new way to permanently change retail and shopping, taking the already existing principles of marketing, personalization and customer data, and streamlining the capture and utilization of these principles into an exceptional shopping and data-processing scenario.

Your Financial Institution Needs Cloud Computing



Cloud computing has gained popularity in recent years, especially on an individual level, with applications like Google Drive giving everyday people a place to remotely store their photos, legal documents and other files. For financial services, many organizations are already on board. However, some small and mid-sized banks and credit unions may not have made the transition yet due to budget constraints or competing priorities.

While the delay to switch to the cloud is understandable, financial institutions should be aware of the myriad of benefits of cloud computing. Advantages, such as enhanced capabilities to utilize customer information, can help propel banks and credit unions forward and meaningfully enhance the ways they can approach their customer service initiatives. Consider the following when looking into ways your organization can utilize cloud computing to your advantage:

Access to Diverse Information

Transitioning from server-based technology to the cloud has a huge potential to open up diverse information in a way that can be collected, evaluated, and utilized to make strategic decisions. While a server-based platform may have information such as accounting and individual customer data stored in different places, utilizing the cloud puts all of this information into a platform that can be accessed more easily, cross referenced, and compiled. To executives and decision makers in financial institutions, this might look like a dashboard that shows new customer acquisitions, revenue, feedback from a monthly tracking survey and customer satisfaction scores all in one place.

Importantly, this also allows for easier access to diverse, yet related, data sets. If your customer satisfaction and monthly revenue can’t be viewed side-by-side, for example, it might be difficult to make a case for why your organization should focus on customer satisfaction. However, being able to view these data sets side-by-side reinforces the areas your organization is choosing to focus on, and helps provide clarity to the way your actions impact your organization’s bottom line.

Adaptability

A huge benefit of transition to the cloud is that service providers can adapt their setup to match the needs of your organization. In a traditional IT approach, your organization is looking at full stack servers and trying to consider both the current and future needs of your organization, often incurring extra expenses in the process. However, with a cloud-based solution, your organization can easily adapt and scale to greater needs and a higher cost point once you’re ready. Cloud service providers consider different price points and are incentivized to create an environment that will help them obtain and retain you as a customer.

Additionally, cloud technology means there is an extra layer of security with the host of the cloud platform responsible to make sure your organization’s information is safe and secure. Their security protocols are constantly improving and evolving to meet current demands, and may be less susceptible to cyber attacks due to a greater infrastructure that your own organization could have.

Banking Technology: A Plan For Constant Change



If the last 10 years have taught us anything about financial services, it’s that the only constant is change for banks and credit unions.

Most organizations had to completely challenge their own status quo as mobile technology took off, creating an environment that required smaller and mid-sized banks and credit unions to adapt, reallocate budgets and think about their customers differently.

Now, the industry is seeing an even greater influx of technology just as some smaller organizations are still fine-tuning their mobile customer experience. FinTech partnerships are offering new ways to add value to customers, blockchain is an emerging technology that may change transactions forever, the Internet of Things (IoT) offers a new form of payment, and COVID-19 has forced every organization and industry to think about how they can engage with their customers meaningfully from a distance.

With all of this change, banks and credit unions need to have a plan in place to constantly adapt to new technology, new opportunities and new competition. Think about the following ways you can set your organization up for success.

Make a Financial Case For Constant Technology Investment

One of the biggest reasons organizations get held up in their technological evolution is due to the comfort — specifically, the financial comfort — of the status quo. If they can simply maintain their traditional approach to technology and not regularly set aside money to compete with the best, it feels easier, safer and more economically feasible.

Therefore, leadership needs to make the financial case for technology investment to its key internal stakeholders, attributing a strong competitive edge to greater revenue and returns. Work with your team to understand different forms of new technology you’re considering, and think about how they can be as cost-efficient and revenue-enhancing as possible. Specifically, FinTech partnerships, third-party software-as-a-service providers and consultants can help you transition into a new field without the permanent expenses of a new employee.

Accessing the Right Talent

At multiple levels, your organization should be thinking about how you can allocate resources toward technological evolution.

  • Leadership. Make sure your organization has an individual who can own your technological change. A Chief Innovation Officer, or a Technology Director can help make sure your technology initiatives are effective, stay within budget, and create a lasting change within your organization.
  • Universal Banker. At a teller level, make sure you are hiring individuals who are going to embrace technology and find ways to explain the benefits of your tech initiatives to customers. A universal banker is trained in a diverse array of tasks that expand far beyond the transactional capabilities of a traditional teller, and their ability to leverage, sell and explain your organization’s technology is a key aspect these individuals should be trained to enhance.

 

Content Marketing to Assist Customers

June 23, 2020

For most customers, navigating their financial lives takes guidance, patience, and a healthy dose of self educating. Understanding 401ks, college savings plans such as 529s an ways the can leverage tax breaks takes a considerable amount of time and effort to understand.

As a financial institution, you’re already an expert on all of these topics. Additionally, over the past ten years, there has been an explosion of content marketing, or promotional material whose primary function is to provide valuable information, with an opportunity to pitch your product or service within that information.

Furthermore, financial institutions are now leveraging FinTech partnerships and AI more than ever before to help provide a customized experience to customers and their unique financial pictures.

Consider the ways you can combine these three strengths: your expertise in the financial arena, your content marketing strategy and your ability to use AI and predictive analytics to sell your products and services in a way that is customized and shows specific, quantifiable financial opportunities your customers can take advantage of.

Retirement Calculators

Retirement can be intimidating, especially amid COVID-19 and major changes in financial trajectories. For younger workers, their retirement will likely have time to recover and grow. For older individuals near retirement, their plans may need to change and they may need to push their retirement dates back in order to achieve their goals.

In either scenario, individuals are looking for clarity around their financial lives: what their retirement might look like, how their income and expenses will play out, how their lifestyle might have to change, and what specific actions they need to take in the meantime.

With predictive modeling, your financial institution can help take the mystery out of this process and provide specific action steps including the percentage of their paycheck they devote to retirement, their targeted date, and their asset mix. By providing this informational resource, you create an opportunity for individuals to potentially roll over to an account with your organization, or bundle their accounts in a way that is advantageous to your organization.

Budgeting/Savings/Measurement Opportunities

Think about ways you can help your customers wrangle, organize understand and act on their personal budgets.

  • Wrangle and organize. Most customers spend and allocate their paycheck through a combination of retirement accounts (automatic withdrawals), credit cards, payments from their bank account and cash withdrawals. Find ways to develop calculators to help them aggregate all of these different expenditures, categorize their spending and automate the process month over month. If this is too much, think about ways your organization can partner with a FinTech organization who provides this service.
  • Understand and act. Help your customers carve out opportunities where they can save, and think about how those opportunities can align with the goals of your organization. Do they have savings account funds that could be better utilized in a CD? Do their credit cards maximize the amount of rewards they receive? Use their information to find gaps and inefficiencies, and then provide chances to act. Even if opportunities for change don’t directly benefit your financial institution, you’ll create a chance to build trust with your customers and prove your value to them.
Mortgages and Other Loans

Purchasing a home is a major lifestyle change, and also a major financial adjustment. Understanding mortgage payments, insurance, taxes, utilities and the unexpected costs of owning a home take guidance, and financial institutions and well-positioned to provide this guidance. Beyond approving a potential purchaser for a loan, think about how your organization can help take the mystery out of home-buying.

For first-time home buyers, think about the way you can help them predict and add up their different costs. Show them what closing costs and a down payment might look like, the advantages/disadvantages of different down payment amounts, and how their budgets might need to change in the meantime to help them achieve their financial goals.

For new purchasers, help them understand what they can expect to receive for their home, how they might transfer to a new mortgage and how they can leverage tax credits to help get the most out of purchasing a new home.