Can Technology Drive Financial Wellness in Banking?

Financial wellbeing is more than just the latest feel-good financial services buzzword–it’s a way of life. It’s a prescription for addressing your banking customers’ essential economic concerns in order to look after their short-term and long-term financial wellness – while increasing the likelihood YOU remain their bank.

Can your FI purchase/invest in a technology to help your customers on a scaled basis? Of course, but a relationship with a trusted advisor is just as important. Technology is needed to start the conversation, compute through the multitude of options and solutions, apply best practices to assess the needs of each individual and then recommend the just-right options with accuracy. But…

If you’re not asking about your banking customers’ wellbeing, then you’re letting them find support elsewhere.

That’s right: addressing financial wellbeing is a recipe for  healthy customer relationships.  Technology does the heavy lifting, allowing your bankers to feel confident about recommendations and focus on building stronger relationships.

Show You Care about their Financial Wellbeing

For your customers, voicing anxiety about finances can be a symptom of a bigger problem. It’s not unusual for people to express concerns about money with inflation rising each day and talk of another recession in the news.  In fact, according to Forrester, the number of people anxious over their finances went from 21% before COVID-19 up to 46% during the height of COVID-19.

Improve Customers’ Financial Wellbeing and Gain Customers for Life

When you hear customers expressing economic worries, you have an opportunity to address their financial wellbeing – and to help them lay plans for a more secure future.

Financial Wellbeing vs Financial Wellness

Financial wellness and financial wellbeing may seem like interchangeable terms, but they are not the same thing. Financial wellness looks at the steps and actions your customers can take to ensure a healthier financial future.

Financial wellbeing, on the other hand, is concerned with how your customers are feeling about where they stand right now from a financial perspective. In a way, financial wellbeing may have more to do with perception than with data. That can be difficult to address with a balance sheet, but taking the time to do it can help you win long-term customer loyalty.

Financial wellbeing is about “how you feel,” but financial wellness is about “what you do.”

For banks, raising the issue of financial wellness has become a way to encourage and embrace conversations with customers. But if your customers are not in a good place from a financial wellbeing standpoint, they might resist conversations focusing on numbers. You need to address their emotional needs first. Many customers will turn to technology to start the conversation, but they will want a trusted advisor to confirm what was recommended before taking actions or steps toward financial wellness.

Ask Questions with Empathy

Understanding your customers’ financial wellbeing requires an awareness of how they feel they’re doing. While financial wellness might show how they’re doing from a plus and minus standpoint, it doesn’t reflect how customers feel about where they currently stand.

It’s possible – and considering the heightened anxiety over financial issues right now, possibly likely – that your customers think they’re performing worse than what the hard numbers say. This could be for hundreds of different reasons, ranging from jealousy over a sibling’s recent house purchase to fears that the company they work for could downsize. If you don’t ask, you don’t know.

In order to get a sense of your customers’ financial wellbeing, you need to have a system in place that ensures your agents reach out to customers and ask the right questions. Gaining a clear picture of your customers’ concerns and where they feel insecure will provide your team with data and a pathway to offer help going FORWARD.

Understand Customers’/Members’ Goals

Why do people feel financially unsafe, even when the numbers indicate they’re doing well? It’s because their goals differ from what the financial wellness figures track. When your representatives reach out to understand a customer’s wellbeing, they must also get a sense of the customer’s goals.

Tracking those goals within your customer management tools will help your representatives ease your customers’ concerns. From there, your team can offer your customers personalized tactics to achieve their goals. That will go a long way toward easing your customers’ financial worries.

Since financial wellbeing has to do with much more than dollars and cents, it’s crucial for agents to have these open conversations with customers about goals and needs. If they don’t, then your customers will look elsewhere for answers and a sense of comfort, which could mean a lost opportunity for your bank.

When The Economy Turns Sour, Make Lemonade

For banks, your response to these uncertain economic times will differentiate your institution for years to come. The customer is looking to banks for help. Those banks that hear the call and work to understand the needs of customers, providing them with resources to circumvent the challenges of these uncertain economic times by using technology to help, will come out stronger on the other side. According to Deloitte, banks who offered tools to overcome uncertainty have reported higher levels of retention and conversion.

You Don’t Need All the Solutions

Your financial institution doesn’t need to provide all of a customer’s solutions or answers in-house for these types of conversations to be valuable. Instead, your agents can offer a listening ear, point out solutions that the bank does provide, and connect the person with additional services or companies that may help solve the other concerns. You’re likely connected to all sorts of individuals and companies that can support your customer’s financial needs, whether they’re planning for retirement, trying to get out of debt or simply seeking to earn more money.

Think of it like this: when someone goes to a hardware store, the store might not fix an issue, but they can connect the customer to a contractor who can. Banks can offer the same type of help in the financial sphere.

Recognition Is Everything

Part of the reason that an engaged customer is more loyal, willing to try more products and willing to trust you is because the customer also understands how you’ve helped them. You’ve had conversations with them. You’ve had agents check in on their progress. You’ve provided them with tools to think about for taking the next financial steps. Maybe you’ve even developed seminars so they can learn strategies that might help them down the line.

“Ignite’s solutions were made with the bank’s sales team in mind and truly provide that extra element to drive meaningful conversations. Central Bank has enjoyed partnering with Ignite to achieve more focused conversations to help customers reach the endgame faster.”

—Dan Westhues, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Central Bank

Such customers don’t suddenly forget this attention. They begin to recognize your agents as people. And when they know there is someone at the bank that they can talk to about their next home loan or small business launch, they turn to that person for help. They recognize that they’ve built a relationship.

It’s not a one-sided relationship, though. Indeed, what’s good for the customer is good for the bank!

Spark the Conversations

By taking a proactive, even empathetic, approach to addressing your customers’ financial wellbeing, you will set your bank up as a valuable resource as your customers’ confidence grows along with their wealth. Helping your representatives ask the right questions by providing tools that prompt them with guided conversations will make the difference between selling services and becoming valuable partners in your customers’ financial wellbeing.

Ignite Sales is the leader in digital customer engagement, using artificial intelligence for engaging analytics to facilitate growth, deepen product penetration and increase satisfaction levels of bankers and customers.

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