Be a Hero Bank for consumers and businesses during COVID-19

You can be a hero to your banking customers! In times of crisis, people seek reassurance that everything is going to be all right.  They want guidance about what to do when they are caught up in the harsh reality of “shelter in place”, the closing of all “non-essential” businesses, sudden unemployment and significantly increased health risks.

Reassurance and guidance can come from various sources such as faith, loved ones and governmental authorities. But it should also come from our nation’s financial institutions to help guide consumers and small businesses through the many questions that now weigh on them such as:

  • “Rates are low now, should I refinance my home?”
  • “The stock market is going crazy. How am I going to retire?”
  • “I am unemployed now, should I use my credit card to buy groceries?”

The list of questions is endless. Your bank can’t answer all the questions, but it can give guidance on many important ones. According to a study by JD Power, about 78% of surveyed consumers in 2018 said they were interested in receiving financial advice or guidance from their bank. Only 28% said they received that financial advice. It’s likely that gap is even wider right now. Filling that gap is where you can make a real difference and be a Hero Bank to your customers!

Here are the a few keys to helping your customers through this unexpected storm:

  • You can’t guide unless you connect – Okay, so having to close all your branches except for drive through or appointment only, is not exactly the best way to deepen your relationship with your customers. Communications to your customers to encourage them to do business through your digital channels is an obvious move, but there are other dynamics in play that you should take into consideration.
    For example, older customers who may have been more comfortable going to a branch for an in-person experience are now going to digital channels. Ignite Sales IQ Analytics data shows the average age of digital engagement has risen from 34.7 years old to 40.3 just in the last few weeks. Ignite Sales data also shows that when consumers and small businesses go to a bank website looking for a deposit account or loan, 12% of the time they also want wealth advice. Implementing digital capabilities to understand customer circumstances and needs and then guiding them to appropriate solutions or appointments with bankers is extremely helpful to customers.
  • Don’t waste any opportunity to offer guidance – Every encounter with a customer is an opportunity to ask if they can use some help with financial decisions. In the JD Power survey, the most common advice that consumers wanted was tips on how to improve their financial situation at 41%. You can fill the gap. Most customers will not ask the banker for help. You must be proactive and ask the customer if you can help them by guiding them through a need’s assessment. If done properly, they will accept that offer 93% of the time, according to Ignite’s IQ analytics reporting.
  • Creatively adjust to the situation – If consumers, and especially small businesses, are not coming to your branches because they are locked down at home, you must reach out to them in new and creative ways. For example: Assign branch employees to engage with clients over the phone and internet using guided conversation technology to reveal updated needs and goals.  Be the advisor who uncovers the latest life events and status changes to reengage those clients to reconsider your financial institution and help them today. At one of Ignite’s clients,  a relationship manager with a portfolio of 220 business clients reached out to the 55% who had little or no activity and revealed 20% who reactivated their account and enrolled in additional services such as wealth management for retirement planning, succession planning and personal investments.

And lastly, a big shout out to all the banks who are going the extra mile to help customers in this tumultuous time by deferring payments on loans and mortgages for consumers and small businesses under financial duress due to the COVID-19.  Well done heroes!

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