The Importance of Humanizing Banking for Enterprise Financial Institutions

The Importance of Humanizing Banking for Enterprise Financial Institutions

Why Humanize Banking?

Much of our world treats individuals like numbers, with minimal concern for the person behind the digits. Consumers want to spend their limited time on the people, experiences and things we find to be valuable – financial institutions need to demonstrate value for their customers by personalizing engagements and interactions and building deeper connections. No matter how quickly organizations delve into much needed digital transformation by using apps, CRMs, IVRs and chat bots, financial institutions cannot replace human to human connection for the pivotal moments your customers are expecting it – the much needed advice for those very important life moments.

Improving your customer engagement is necessary to gain and retain market and share of wallet. Engaged customers are key to growth in 2021 and beyond, especially considering the complete digital transformation currently underway in the financial services space. Ideally, banks, credit unions, wealth management firms and tax preparation companies will be able to bridge the digital and physical channels to create a seamless banking experience, with little friction for customers when they move from online to bricks and mortar, then back again. If your financial institution gets a good handle on these considerations, you’ll be well positioned to balance between digital and physical, providing consistent value to your customers. And treating them like humans. 

Financial institution customers who feel valued stay, spend and advocate

With the increasing pressure from new entrants into the world of finance, banks, credit unions, wealth management firms and tax preparation companies all need to return to the crux of effective customer engagements: the emotion behind the experience through deeper relationships with prospective and existing customers. 

A Gallup research study also found that the emotional connection is what keeps customers coming back, with fully engaged customers netting an incremental 23% revenue. However that same research showed that only one in five customers are actually emotionally connected to their primary banks.

You can’t manage what you can’t measure – data is key for understanding enterprise consumer behavior

Measuring engagement goes beyond a simple tally of how often a customer logs into a mobile app, calls into the call center, or visits a branch. Financial institutions need to be able to connect each of these touchpoints across all channels to records in a CRM tool to begin painting a picture of how an individual behaves, as well as track how they want to be engaged with in the future.

Collecting these data points will allow you to segment prospective and current customer bases to understand what is driving valuable, revenue driving behaviors, what can be used to predict future actions, as well as help with operational execution like workforce capacity planning in branch and upskilling your talent for popular services. 

Engage in individuals’ financial institution ‘channels of comfort’

Your banking customers want to complete their transactions and get advice in a way that is convenient for them. Gone are the days where everyone visited their local branch before 5pm on a weekday, and instead the pendulum is now swinging towards a “digital only” experience with online banks.

Your customers have preferred channels, what we call ‘channels of comfort’, that vary individual to individual, and can change based on the query they are trying to resolve. These channels include mobile apps, call center support, social media, ATMs, phone appointments, video conferences and face to face meetings in branch, with most individuals using between three and four channels

When customers are able to select and use their ‘channel of comfort,’ their engagement improves significantly. Engaged customers spend more money and are more likely to stay with their bank. Research has shown that there is a serious mismatch on how banks service their customers and how customers want to be served. 38% of respondents to a recent survey wanted a personal relationship with their bank but only had a digital one, or vice versa, which resulted in them being less likely to fully engage with their bank by 47% compared to those whose preferences were being met. 

Different financial institution activities require different levels of enterprise support

Coconut Software commissioned several studies in 2020 to better understand how your customers want to engage with your institution. Our research found that your customers and prospects want to be met somewhere in the middle of the digital/bricks & mortar continuum – encouraged to use digital options when low value transactions can be completed, but welcomed into their local branches when advisory and life milestone discussions need to happen. After all, money represents their dreams, their kids’ future, and is a reflection of their hard work. 

Match the level of support you provide to the level of complexity for that request. Don’t make opening a chequing account more difficult than it needs to be, and see if you can support that activity through a less expensive channel, like a chatbot on your website. That way, you can focus your highly trained and highly paid in-person staff on truly advisory type support. 

Naturally, customer preferences must be weighed against the cost of supporting the various ‘channels of comfort’ with significant differences in the expenses between them. Having someone book an appointment to deposit a single check into their checking account is a high cost for a low value transaction that could easily be automated through taking a picture on a mobile device via an app.

Conclusion

Why does humanizing banking work? Because it makes your customers feel appreciated, respected and valued, necessary ingredients for loyalty and an increase in share of wallet. Personalizing the experience through asking then servicing individuals in their ‘channel of comfort’ means they feel valued, and that their time is being respected.

With direct and measurable results on the feeling of engagement leading to loyalty and share of wallet, any financial institution looking to gain and retain customers in a swiftly changing environment must evaluate whether they have the technology stack, and internal resources, to support the humanizing of their customer engagement experience. 

Visit coconutsoftware.com/humanizingbanking to learn more about how Coconut Software can help you humanize your banking.