Empathetic Banking. Is Now the Time?

“Empathy drives better customer experience and financial performance”

A blog we posted back in July of 2020 during the pandemic will help financial institutions during our new season of economic woes and concerns. Many feel those who act now, with empathy at the core, will be the financial institutions of the future.

Has your FI fulfilled the promise of “true care” of the customers and small business? Or are you in the boat that cares more about how much money you can make from consumers and businesses?  Either way, it’s time for true customer care and empathy in banking. It’s time to be more in tune with the needs of consumers. With the pandemic hopefully in the rear-view mirror but now growing inflation and hints of a recession on the horizon, change is needed now. Financial institutions must reevaluate how they work and empathize with customers going forward. The emerging model is a more empathetic banking, supported by technology, that allows bankers to better understand and meet the financial needs of consumers, fulfilling needs and helping them get over the bump or even mountains in the road ahead.

We pointed to a Gallup article from April 2020 that said, companies that provide an emotional connection with customers outperform the sales growth of their competitors by 85%. It still holds true today.  Accenture’s Banking on Empathy states “Empathy drives better customer experience and financial performance”. It went on to note that 63% of banks believe the branch is the most effective channel for helping financially distressed and just plain stressed customers to resolve issues and calm fears. What does this mean? Small businesses and consumers want to talk to someone about their needs. It’s about more than understanding their options, it’s about being guided with confidence to the right solutions and products that fulfill their financial needs today, and help them prepare for tomorrow.  Care will lead to growth.

Is it time for your financial institutions to re-evaluating the way your bankers interact with customers?  Empathy and understanding may be the way.

Here are the four keys to becoming successful at “empathetic banking” going forward.

1. Listen and Understand Consumer and Business Needs

If we have learned anything during this pandemic, it’s that everyone wants to be heard. Your business and personal banking customers have individual needs that are communicated at all different points in the customer journey. By engaging with them in an experiential way on all channels, your customers will feel that personal touch that is so often lacking in banking as a whole. Here are a few things you will learn when you listen:

  • What financial goals and needs do your customers have today, and what will their future financial goals look like?
  • How can you fulfill those needs and guide them toward their future goals?
  • What is their unique story?
  • How can you differentiate your brand and provide a true customer engagement experience to all consumers and businesses?

2. Educate

Most people are intimidated by what they don’t understand, and in the new digital world of all things self-serve, the customer has to make hard and sometimes complicated decisions on product selections, online applications, and more. For us, in the financial world, it’s easy to forget that so many customers might not know everything that we do, or even certain terms that we may consider commonplace. It’s important that we leave the financial institution jargon behind and work on humanizing our customer interactions. Here are some easy ways to make your customer’s experience easier:

  • Provide information buttons that explain, in plain terms, the benefits of the product or service.
  • Allow users to ask questions via chat, email, or by an easy-to-find customer service number.
  • Allow users to schedule an appointment with a banker or member specialist. Whether that’s virtual or in-person, make your experts easy to access.
  • Inform them of the outcomes to expect each step of the way.

With digital being the number one choice today for financial literacy, educating consumers and businesses will allow for more account openings online, as well as greater confidence in your financial institution. Nowadays, your business and personal banking customers want to learn about which road to take financially, and with over 55% of customers going to their primary FI for answers, you are in the perfect position to help get them there.

3. Guide with Experiential Service

Before the pandemic knocked everything off-kilter, using an intelligent customer engagement platform was seen as a want. During and after quarantine, it’s become a must-have. With everything moving increasingly digital, a platform that not only listens, learns, and guides, but also fulfills the needs of all consumers online, in the branch, and call center can be the difference between a customer who switches FI’s and one who stays.

We all need a little guidance, but when it comes to finances, here are some best practices to use with your customers:

  • Personalize experiences
  • Interactive and educational “why is this best for me?”
  • Confidence in selections
  • Frictionless engagement

People have so much on their plates right now and are fearful of their uncertain financial futures, having a FI that guides them through an interactive, informative, and personalized platform is the holy grail of customer engagement.

4. Recommend and Fulfill with Accuracy and Confidence

There are a lot of people out there who only know about limited banking options like personal checking accounts, personal savings accounts, and credit cards. They don’t realize that your financial institution is about so much more than just the surface level. Recommend products based on your customer’s own individual needs, and watch them stay customers for life. With an experiential customer engagement platform, you can expect:

  • Product selections accuracy
  • Full understanding of each product
  • Ease of understanding the next steps to take when opening an account
  • Ability to see and pick what is needed now and what is needed to help them later

Where guiding is intelligence-driven, fulfilling is decision-driven. AI and machine learning take the personally-driven conversations to an intelligent set of recommendations that are accurate for the needs and goals of each who uses it, regardless of the channel.

Powerful Combination

Keep your customers and members happy in economic down turns by helping to ease a lot of the everyday anxiety that we are all facing. Through active listening, education, guidance, and personalized recommendations, you can take your already good customer/member experience and make it great. A little bit of care goes a long way.

Ignite Sales is here to help financial institutions provide powerful and experiential services on all channels for FI customers, members, and businesses. We welcome the opportunity to partner with your financial institution to create an experiential service that combines all of the elements needed for powerful engagement. Give us a call >

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