The Empathetic Banker: the rush to embrace the new banking model

empathetic banking

The generally unfulfilled promise of bankers to the financial consumers of the country is that, “they care”. For the most part, that meant they cared about how much money banks could make from consumers and businesses. Although slow progress has been made towards a banking approach more in tune with the needs of consumers, the horrific environmental events over the last six months have caused bankers to honestly revaluate how they do business. The emerging model is a more empathetic banker, supported by technology, that allows bankers to better understand and meet the financial needs of consumers.

Need proof? According to a Gallup article from April of this year, companies that provide an emotional connection with customers outperform the sales growth of their competitors by 85%. Bankers now realize this to be true. On American Banker’s July 1st podcast, Wei Ke, a partner at Simon-Kucher and Partners, spoke with Penny Crosman of American Banker. Wei Ke revealed that in Simon-Kucher’s survey during COVID -19 of consumer and business banking customers, 65% of those surveyed would move banks if their branch was closed permanently; 70% prefer in-branch account opening. 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.

Bankers are rapidly re-evaluating the way they do business.

Here are the four keys to becoming a successful “empathetic banker,” the winning banking business model going forward.

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?


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.

Guiding 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.

Fulfilling needs 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.

A powerful combination

Keep your customers and members happy in a time like this by helping to ease a lot of the everyday anxiety that we are all facing today. Through active listening, education, guidance, and personalized recommendations, you can take your already good customer/member experience and make it great.

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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