CSP Happenings





Topic: Customer Service Experience

2019 Litmus Test

October 22, 2019

Entering the fourth quarter of 2019, the financial services space is evolving faster than ever. Is your organization keeping up? Consider the following topics and have an honest conversation within your organization about the way you are working to evolve, improve, and stay relevant in an industry in flux. Those who can be agile and ride this wave of change will be rewarded with loyal customers and a brand reputation that is set up for success.

Actively Changing and Evolving

Is your organization regularly rolling out initiatives, working to improve, and functioning in a constant state of change? While it’s good to perfect certain processes, the reality is that if there isn’t some degree of “discomfort” within your organization, you likely aren’t making a great enough effort to evolve. Technology changes, the transition to universal banking and increased partnerships with FinTech and analytics providers are just a few ways the sector is changing as a whole, and these changes necessitate constant training. Make sure your organization is feeling the effects of change. If not, find a way you can improve, and start getting out of your comfort zone.

Embracing the Mobile Experience

By the end of 2019, your organization should be mobile-centric. This means that branch staff, online support and your overall strategy should be putting the mobile experience at the top of your list for customer experience initiatives. Banks and credit unions are seeing an increase in the number of touchpoints that occur through a mobile app, so if the rest of your staff isn’t keeping pace with your mobile presence, focus on training to have a mobile-first outlook within your entire organization.

Establishing Partnerships

In order to stay competitive and innovative, your financial institution should be actively seeking partnerships. Specifically, you should be focusing on FinTech and data analytics partnerships. FinTech partners can bring unique financial tools to your customers in exchange for access to your customer database, and in doing so, create value for your organization, resulting in your financial institution having innovation “baked in.”

Additionally, your organization should be largely focused on making data-driven decisions. Understanding net promoter scores, analyzing most and least profitable products/services and learning more about your digital engagement should all be top priorities. Bringing in an analytics team or consultant can help you identify your blind spots as an organization, get a plan in place to process and analyze data, and train your staff to utilize that data in an effective and meaningful way to drive revenue.

Focus on Customer Centricity

Your entire staff should have the customer journey (and multiple customer journeys) in mind during interactions. Additionally, your digital strategy should have a clear map of different customer paths. Simply put, customer centricity is a must going into 2020. If you feel your organization needs to improve in this facet, begin to produce detailed customer journey maps — identifying variances and different journeys for different products, services, sources of information and types of customers. By building a framework, you can begin to wrap your mind around the greater picture of the customer experience, and pick out ways to incrementally improve.

First Impressions Count



First impressions are hugely important in the world of digital banking, online shopping and the multitude of competition for attention in the digital space. Therefore, when thinking about your financial institution’s efforts to draw in new customers, respect them by creating trust and providing value, being as clear as possible about what makes your institution unique, and streamlining their interactions with your products and services.

Create Trust and Provide Value

Establish yourself as a valuable information source from the very first interaction. Put yourself in the shoes of a potential customer: They may be looking for banking information, may be exploring financial vehicles, or may simply be doing background research on a different topic that relates to personal finance. Whatever they’re looking for, be the valuable voice of reason for them. In your online content, focus on providing as much information as possible and as little promotion as possible, outside of the heading of your website and a link to your products/services. By providing valuable information right away, you’re already miles ahead of the pack, and you will draw in the attention and respect of the reader.

This is also why content marketing is important. Content marketing provides value first to your customer, with your brand and name as an afterthought the to valuable information you’re providing. This approach seems counterintuitive, but the reality is that the average person on the street is seeking out information and good choices, rather than a specific bank or brand. Make sure you provide value first in your interactions, and your brand’s name, even as an afterthought, will be more powerful.

Provide Clarity

Potential customers should immediately understand your core services, your best value offers and what makes your financial institution unique. Think about the best parts of your organization and what makes you better than your competition. Are your rates for loans low? Do you provide a personalized feel that is unique from your competition? Do you offer one-of-a-kind products? This information should be front and center, letting your potential new customer learn why you’re better than the competition. More importantly, make sure to frame that value add in the context of your customer’s life. If you have low rates, talk about the extra money they can save and reallocate to their personal lives. If you provide superior customer service, talk about how your institution can make their financial lives as stress-free as possible.

Make Purchasing Easy

We use “purchase” here as a relative term, which can be substituted with “signing up” or enrolling. If a potential customer is on one of your landing pages, their path to some sort of purchase or information sharing (such as email) should be as obvious and pain free as possible without being the sole content of your page. You want to respect a potential customer’s attention by providing as much information as possible while also streamlining the process when they choose to create an account or join your institution.

What Can Your Financial Institution Gain From Social Media?

September 24, 2019

For financial institutions preoccupied with day-to-day operations, social media can feel burdensome. Many directors and executives see an online social media presence as a necessary evil — something that they won’t particularly benefit from, but are constantly told they need to do to keep up with other brands. However, social media offers a multitude of opportunities for brads to drive sales through immediate transactions, create a long-term personality for their institution, and identify opportunities for improvement within their organization. Consider the following approaches to social media when thinking about your financial institution and what your organization can gain from a calculated social media strategy.

Short Term

A particular value of your financial institution’s social media platform is that it serves as a forum for sales and transactions. Your organization can create content linking to landing pages for opening a checking account, getting pre-approved for a loan, or even downloading your app on a mobile device. In this manner, your social media presence can serve as a short-term sales tool, with a calculable number of clicks, conversions and a dollar value associated with each conversion.

In particular, for this conversion-driven approach, your organization should focus on extremely specific moments in a customer journey. Think about short descriptions for these moments from the perspective of a customer, such as, “I’m thinking about buying a home, and want to be pre-approved for a mortgage,” or, “I already have a savings account with this institution, but want to open multiple accounts to better organize my finances.”

These moments, while exclusionary to many, will deeply resonate with those customers at that specific point in a persuasive way that causes them to act. This “all-in” approach on specific moments is valuable: To drive a person to action, persuasive content must ring true with them in a very timely and authentic manner.

Long Term

Rather than focusing on transactions and day-to-day interactions, your brand’s social media presence also offers the opportunity to frame and create a story around your financial institution. There may be certain intangible things about your brand that are incredibly valuable: The relationship you have with your community, the stories of the individuals you serve daily, or the way your services and unique value-adds better your customers’ financial wellbeing and personal lives.

Building a constant story around your brand gives your services and products a greater sense of purpose and meaning, tying into the emotional considerations of your customer base and breaking the exclusively logical barrier of deciding to interact with a brand — instead offering a more sentimental approach. Authenticity is key when creating the story of your brand — stay true, look to your staff and customers and think about the way your financial services impact the stability and security of your customer base.

Opportunities and Learning

Social media is a two-way street. Your financial institution can put out loads of content, and your customers can provide feedback to your brand, sometimes through solicited feedback in posts, and sometimes through organic comments and interactions. Some brands dread this open forum for customers to voice their opinions out of fear of looking bad in a public social space. What they fail to realize is that if customers are vocalizing disapproval on social media, that means the brand is already falling short in the products and services themselves.

Instead, brands should listen to their customers on social media and understand where their biggest opportunities for improvement lie. What trends arise from customer feedback. What opportunities for investigation arise as a result of customer complaints? As much as it hurts to hear out these unhappy voices, the reality is that they can serve as a roadmap for your company’s improvement plan. As much as one voice seems like something that can be written off, the truth is that even a single individual in a social media forum can represent the views of hundreds or thousands of other silent customers. Hear these individuals out, learn how you can improve, and create a system for your organization to turn social listening into tangible product/service improvements.

A Quick FI Social Media Plan

September 23, 2019

Social media strategy should start off small. The most important thing is to get your social media presence off the ground, learn as you go, and improve over time. Use the steps of creating goals, developing good content, and creating a simple monitoring plan as a launchpad to either get your social media interactions off the ground, or improve a stagnating online presence.

Create Goals

It might seem obvious, but your financial institution’s leadership team should sit down and have a conversation about your goals of your social media presence. In particular, you should think about the following:

  • Who is your target audience? This factor alone will drive a number of decisions and shape the way you think about your brand, your content, the platforms you use and your overall approach to communication. This target audience might consist of multiple audiences, which should be thought of as unique entities that require varied approach for your social media presence.
  • What platforms do you want to use? Popular platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat offer unique pros and cons, from their ability to leverage visual storytelling to their age demographics they do the best at engaging. Consider the capabilities of your team and the pros and cons of each of these platforms, identify what you want to leverage, and build your social media plan with those diferent mediums in mind.
  • What level of engagement are you willing to commit to? Your team should understand the capacity of your resources, how often your want social media postings to happen, what type of content you want to post, and how responsive you want to be to your customers’ comments and interactions on your various social media forums. Additionally, you should pre-define what kind of analytics, measurement, or follow-up processes you want to occur on the back end of your social media strategy.
Develop engaging content

Once you have a concrete strategy in place, your team should work to develop meaningful, engaging content that will drive traffic to your pages, garner interaction and promote your brand in a positive manner. Focus on these aspects of your content:

Visual Appeal. Image-focal content grabs the eye during a “scrolling session,” captures the readers attention, and is a gatekeeper for interaction. Make sure you utilize visuals to deliver content quickly, whether from a photograph, infographic, or other form of visualized data.

Storytelling. If you have meaningful statistic, think of a customer who exemplifies that positive statistic. Use personal stories to communicate greater ideas and personalize the message you’re delivering.

Actionable content. Make sure you evaluate the goal of every post. Are you trying to improve your brand’s appearance, drive a sale, re-direct people to your website? Make sure your content provides an opportunity for action and deeper engagement with your brand.

Brand personality. Try to develop a consistent tone in your brand’s postings. Whether informative, appealing to sentiment, or comical, you should try to strike a consistent personality through your posts and interactions. This consistency helps people identify with your brand and think of you as a person or friend, rather than a service provider.

Promote, Monitor and Adjust

Once your strategy and posts are in place, pour fuel on your social media fire! Investigate ways that advertising, affiliates and other services can increase your reach. Make sure to monitor your various stats, like unique impressions per post, likes and number of shares, and point your organization in a positive trajectory, trying to increase your reach over time. Pay attention to the types of post that garner the most engagement, and work hard to replicate that success in creative and unique ways.

Your Employees Are Your Social Media Secret Weapon

September 11, 2019

Establishing a social media strategy for a financial institution can feel daunting. Price barriers associated with external consultants, intricate analytics platforms. and wondering what you don’t know about social media can all feel like huge obstacles stopping your social media strategy from getting off the ground. Sometimes, an employee-led approach can be a great way to get the wheels turning on your social media presence. By leveraging your employees to distribute your social media messaging on their individual social media pages, you can reap a variety of benefits while using a straightforward, no-frills approach to establishing an online presence.

Trusted Source

When social media users see individuals they know posting content, they tend to trust it more than seeing it from a stranger, and especially trust it more than seeing it posted from a business. This remains true even when the poster is an employee of a business or organization, posting that organization’s messaging. By allowing your employees to post content, you’re reframing your business through these employees/individuals, who are likely to be viewed and thought of by their social media audience as a friend, family member or casual acquaintance, rather than as a professional associated with your financial institution. This is valuable because it increases their ability to be trusted by followers in an online space.

Truly Engaged Audience

Rather than getting “cheap” views via promoted ads, the individuals reached through employee social media serve as a truly engaged follower who will be more receptive to your organization’s messaging. These viewers likely have some interest in your employee, and that pre-existing relationship increases their willingness to engage in your content your employee shares.

For local credit unions and regional financial institutions, this engagement is especially valuable because it is geographically targeted, reaching a high portion of social media followers of employees who live in the city and region your financial institution represents.

Accessible For FIs of All Sizes

Smaller financial institutions have limited budgets when it comes to marketing in the form of social media, especially with advanced social media management approaches, like outsourcing content creation, soliciting consulting on social media analytics and having full-time staff dedicated to social media marketing. By creating an employee-led campaign, smaller institutions can leverage the power of social media marketing in a tangible, easy-to-understand, and quickly implementable way.

Easy to Execute

Simplicity is key, especially when coming up with a social media strategy to get your financial institution off the ground, active and making tangible progress toward an enhanced online presence. Explaining the benefits of an employee-led social media initiative helps your staff understand the impact your collective action is having not just on your organization as a whole, but on the impact your financial institution’s success has on them as individuals. Establishing buy-in enhances your social media push’s efficacy, and has a reciprocal effect of making your team feel connected and engaged with your organization beyond their day-to-day responsibilities.

Cost-Free

Advanced social media strategies, analytics platforms and sophisticated methods to distribute content all come with a price tag, but employee-led initiatives are virtually free. Once your team establishes the content you want to share and sets aside time to explain to your staff the best practices to share content — voila — your social media presence is off the ground and taking concrete steps toward a meaningful online relationship with your target customers.

Growth and Change in Online Shopping

August 27, 2019

Financial Institutions spend a great deal of effort understanding customers on the back end of their transactions: Seeing their monthly statements, overall financial picture and helping them make educated decisions about their overall financial health. However, on the other side of those transactions is a complex and shifting world of transactions, many of which are happening through ecommerce. These interactions shape the way consumers think about their finances and affect their expectations of financial institutions. Consider the following ways ecommerce is evolving and improving for customers.

Enhanced Product Information

Consumers can make more informed decisions than ever before about the products they’re purchasing. Reviews, independent blogs and usability tests on YouTube all illustrate ways customers can learn about products. Beyond this, even closer to the point of purchase, customers have access to enhanced photos, customer support, creative payment plans, greater transparency in the services they’ll receive, and customized offerings created by leveraging customer data. The world of ecommerce is more personalized than ever before.

Highly Personalized Shopping Experience

Online retailers have become very sophisticated about where their customers are in the purchase process, creating unique landing pages and more personalized customer journeys to help individual navigate their online platforms easily. Additionally, the advent of data science in the ecommerce space helps businesses understand what their customers are looking for, create customized offerings and even sell customers on the value adds that are most important to them.

Expedited Processes

Customers are now benefitting from things like one-click purchasing, pre-loaded payment options and simpler account creation by linking to their social media platforms. These various processes make purchasing easier, and have an effect on customers’ expectations of their financial institutions. Simply put, they want ease of purchases and ease of transactions. In particular, Millennials have less patience when it comes to technology that isn’t intuitive. They expect it to work right the first time, and consider the efficacy of the online platforms they’re using a reflection of the brand they’re working with.

Q3 Financial Institution Trends



Technology is a major disrupting force in the world of financial institutions, and in quarter three, banks and credit unions should think about the way they are leveraging their FinTech partnerships and working with their mobile presence to enhance customer experience, stay competitive and lay the groundwork for meeting customer expectations in the future.

The Enhanced Collaboration of Banks and FinTech Startups

FinTech startups and financial institutions are currently in a phase of working together, creating alliances and developing a roadmap for the future. At the moment (and for the near future) this partnership makes perfect sense: FinTech organizations are on the cutting edge of data analytics and turning that data into value adds for customers, while banks provide regulatory compliance, an existing customer base and the security of a traditional financial institution.

However, moving into the future, the two separate parties will see a greater convergence. The current match-making between these two types of organizations is simply a predecessor for a larger industry trend: the inherent transition for financial institutions to organizations that have advanced analytics and the ability to leverage those analytics for a competitive advantage. Expect financial institutions to begin to think about how they can bring FinTech partners in-house in order to work more closely, have a synonymous strategy between the two organizations, and make data analytics a firm and internal part of their long-term strategy.

Increase in Digital and Transformation of In-Person

Digital banking has seen an explosion in the last five years, and that trend is likely to continue. Specifically, banks and credit unions are beginning to view mobile banking as their primary method of interaction with customers, with the vast majority of transactions now happening digitally and increasingly through mobile devices. Financial institutions will take note and try to leverage mobile by:

  • Introducing branding: Organizations will do their best to create their brand’s voice and convey it through their mobile app, conveying their core value adds, whether those be convenience, security or something else, along with their brand’s personality
  • Keeping up with new mobile opportunities: Along with FinTech organizations, financial institutions will look at their mobile apps to see how they can introduce useful pre-existing technology into their app. Things like peer-to-peer payment systems, personal budgeting help and money-saving tools will all continue to be integrated and expanded in the mobile banking world

FinTech: The Technology Driving Innovation



When finance professionals think about their skill sets and interests, there are likely to be certain trends that arise within this profession: A propensity for statistics, an acknowledgement of the highly personal interactions that go into personal finance, and a genuine interest in helping consumers build their wealth and make smart financial decisions.

However, beyond these skill sets, retail banking relies more and more on individuals with hard skills related to data science, analytics and software development. Look no further than the proliferation of FinTech organizations in the past five years. Traditional financial institutions have been partnering with FinTech startups for some time to bring increased value to customers by leveraging their data in unique ways that help them save better, invest better or other creative ways to use their financial data.

With FinTech playing such a big role in the financial services world, it’s important to understand some of the base technologies FinTech is using, and why they’re powerful for software developers and bank executives alike.

The API Platform

Simply put, the open API platform is one of the most fundamental ways FinTech organizations can work with banks and credit unions to leverage their data in innovative ways. If not already in place, banks and credit unions should work with their legal and digital teams to provide an open API so that FinTech organizations can access their data, manipulate and utilize in ways that provide value and do so in the most familiar, industry-standard way possible.

Automated Security

Security screenings used to require a higher degree of human interaction to vet, analyze and take action on possible security threats and notifications. Now, much of these processes are automated, where FinTech organizations are sophisticated enough to provide data analysis that fully comprehends the security threat, takes automatic action (such as notifications or pausing accounts), sends back end record keeping, and can perform follow-up tasks depending on the customer’s concern and legitimacy of the security threat.

Robo-Representatives

Robo-responders have become more sophisticated over time, and FinTech organizations can create personalized responders to address customer questions effectively in an online format. These types of systems are particularly effective when backed by a human element, but used on the front end to handle simple and straightforward requests, and provide a money-saving option for organizations.

Blockchain

Blockchain technology is still getting off the ground for the financial services world, but once it is fully established, it will allow for the automation and real-time security of peer to peer transactions. Simply put, blockchain will provide a universal and verified security system for online transactions between customers without the need for third-party mediation or supervision.

Data Science and Machine Learning

Data science and machine learning are at the forefront of data analytics for financial institutions, finding ways to capture large degrees of customer data, analyze it, apply it and learn from it moving forward. Data science is transforming financial institutions, serving useful in situations as granular as deciding what type of ad to show a customer all the way to giving context for major decisions within a financial institution’s executive team by providing valuable insights.

Consumers Want Financial Advice

July 23, 2019

According to a recent article from the Washington Post, despite the current unprecedented growth the economy has seen over the past 10 years, many Americans are still struggling. Small emergency funds, underfunded retirement savings and low wages despite a low unemployment rate mean individuals are still struggling to establish financially stable presents and futures for themselves.

As a result, Americans are looking for any type of support they can find, especially from sources close to their money. Financial institutions, with oversight on consumers’ finances, have the unique ability to use this data to help customers guide their spending habits and personal budgeting, creating a unique value proposition that can differentiate financial institutions as brands.

This concept applies not only to those struggling, but those with larger-than-average incomes who still struggle to meet their financial goals. Things like retirement, mortgages, student loans and good old fashioned monthly budgeting are all areas of opportunity for financial institutions to provide expertise. Analytics can help drive smart decision making in these areas, and brands that capitalize on this thirst for information will be rewarded with lifelong customers.

Emergence of Millennials

As mentioned, many Americans continue to struggle, despite rampant, unbroken economic growth over the past decade. With that said, Millennials have managed to enter the wealth accumulation phase of their lives, and are now beginning to engage in more serious financial endeavors, like buying homes and contributing more seriously to their retirement savings.

With this increasingly affluent demographic, financial institutions should be working hard to secure Millennials (currently ages 22-37 years old) as lifelong customers. Notably, this demographic has digital tendencies, which lends itself to financial advice. They’re more used to sharing data than older generations, and they expect that data to be utilized in a way that results in customized recommendations. Financial institutions can be more consultative in their approach with these customers, offering anything from budgeting tips to pre-approved forms of credit Millennials can take advantage of.

Ability to Harness Data

Quite simply, organizations should utilize customer data because they can. Consumers are more open to their data being used than ever before, and even expect organizations to do so. Similarly, organizations’ fears around big data should now feel somewhat assuaged, as they can often find financially realistic and targeted data solutions, from software to analytics consultants. Organizations should think about the most important customer metrics that can be utilized, and work with a data expert to make the most of that information.

Data-Driven Communication (How to Apply Harness Data)

Once your organization has customer data, make the most of it.

  • Find ways to offer promotions to existing customers. Particularly, think about how you can streamline their experience. If you want to offer them a specific type of loan, make sure they’re pre-approved, and provide them with some metrics on why that loan would benefit them.
  • Offer genuine value, and worry about monetizing it later. One underserved aspect of the financial services world is helping individuals with their monthly budgets. Think about ways your organization can provide a truly customized monthly budget based on individual customers, and offer them financial advice. A consultative approach can build trust and be a differentiator with customers, and any money you put into an initiative like this will offer a return on investment in the lifetime value of that customer.
  • Learn about the types of customers you want. Beyond customer-facing analytics, your team can utilize customer data to learn more about your most profitable customers, and how to increase and target these types of individuals in the future.

Q3 Banking Tech Trends



With half of 2019 already gone, financial institution directors and executives should have their minds toward the future. We tend to think of technology as a means to an end — delivering a superior customer experience — but staying up tot speed on tech evolution helps decision makers identify future opportunities and understand where the industry is headed next. Here are a few tech trends we’re keeping our eyes on in the latter half of this year:

Digital Currencies

Bitcoin, the most widely used and know digital currency, has, up until this point, experienced a roller coaster of valuations throughout its existence. Historically optimism and wide usage has driven its value up, while concerns about regulation and legitimacy, often coming in the form of windfall legal or political events, have caused its value to crash quickly.

However, a new beginning for digital currencies may be on the horizon, with Facebook announcing its rollout of its digital currency, Libra. While Facebook will likely face similar roadblocks regarding regulation that Bitcoin has experienced, Facebook brings a new legitimacy to the conversation and the financial ability to help it navigate those hurdles. If Libra is successful, it could pave the way for other digital currencies as well.

Voice Controls

The world of voice-controlled interactions has already spread to other industries. Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri stand out as virtual assistants who primarily function by the user’s vocal interaction, and the trend is now spreading to financial institutions. Tasks such as looking for help related to finances, searching through transaction histories, or conducting everyday tasks such as making payments or conducting internal transfers will all begin to utilize voice commands very soon. These commands are a new venue of enhanced customer experience, and while they have yet to be widely adopted, the trend may see widespread adoption quickly. Bank and credit union executives should learn more to see how they can begin to integrate voice services with their existing mobile platform, setting them up for success to expand voice commands throughout their app in the next few years.

A Digital Battle for Customer Experience

Financial institutions are focusing more and more on their digital experiences, including things like streamlining their online interactions, conveying their brand values in an online format and expanding into new technologies like voice control, as mentioned. Essentially, a lot of major players for financial institutions have identified digital experience as a make-or-break element of their overall business strategy, hoping that delivery on this aspect of their service will help secure and retain long-term, valuable customers.

Combined with this level of competition, smaller financial institutions have closed the gap on the big bans. Regional banks and credit unions now have access to app development, online banking and other digital platforms that used to be more exclusive to the big banks due to a high initial price point to be an innovator in this field. However, the ability to contract out app development and the omni-channel platform at a lower cost has enabled these smaller players to enter the field, making it even more competitive, especially for these smaller organizations that tend to excel at branch customer experience. Additionally, the influx of FinTech and other tech players entering the financial services realm means organizations need to have a rock solid digital foundation to survive and thrive over the next few years.