Banking Practices That Can Hurt Member Engagement
Making customers happy is a key strategic advantage in banking, as in any business. Trying to determine what customers want, and how to give it to them, is a correspondingly high priority. That may sometimes overshadow the equally urgent necessity of identifying processes and practices that actively make your customers unhappy and cause them to leave.
The best customer experience strategies focus on both acquisition and retention, because there’s little benefit in attracting new business if you can’t keep it. Let’s recap a few of the most-common “pain points” that may be driving “churn” at your institution
“The Face of Your Business” Isn’t Friendly
In its 2018 global customer experience survey, consulting firm PwC found that the two biggest reasons consumers stop dealing with a company, by a wide margin, were bad employee attitudes and unfriendly service. The stakes are high: The same survey showed that 59 percent of U.S. respondents will leave a company after multiple bad experiences, and 17 percent after just one.
This doesn’t mean that employees themselves are necessarily to blame. If they’re falling short in their customer service duties, it’s often a red flag that signifies underlying problems. If the problems occur at the branch level, the cause may be as simple as interpersonal issues. If you’re seeing problems across the board, though, it may point to issues of structure or company culture.
Address this kind of problem in the short term by seeking out the underlying problems, which might be best done by soliciting anonymous feedback from branch staff. In the longer term, take care that your in-house culture — the “employee experience” — is in sync with your customer experience strategies. Deloitte calls that kind of congruence “the human experience,” and it’s extremely powerful.
Policies Don’t Align With Users’ Needs
Another perennial issue is policies or practices that don’t mesh with users’ needs. People resent being forced to do things in a way that doesn’t make sense for them, and they won’t forget about it in a hurry. That’s why customers think still of “banker’s hours,” even though most institutions extended their hours decades ago. No customer wants to hear any variation on “That’s just not how we do it.”
This can contribute to customer service issues as well, because branch staff who disagree with a policy or procedure typically find it stressful to enforce them. On a more positive note, it means staff can — if they feel safe in doing so — tell you which policies or procedures cause your members the most grief. They’ll also have plenty of ideas about what changes could and should be made.
Employee insight is a powerful resource, and drawing on it regularly can help your staffers feel empowered, valued and heard. It’s also a potent complement for your customer surveys, focus groups and A/B testing.
No One Likes Fees, Especially When Unexpected
Fees provide a significant revenue stream for most institutions, although “virtual” banks and other fintechs offer no-fee services in some niches. That’s not a deal-breaker for most customers. Clearly, there’s a cost to providing most services, and studies also show that consumers in general are okay with paying a premium as long as they receive superior service in return.
Fees can be burdensome in some cases, and disproportionately affect those who can least afford to pay them. People with low incomes or precarious cash flow are more likely to incur NSF charges, for example. It’s especially galling if the NSF was triggered by your institution taking another fee. Any change in your fee structure has to be communicated very clearly to your members, or you are likely to create unnecessary hardship or — at least — hard feelings.
Consider using analytics to identify and flag those potential conflicts. Your existing customer data should show when your members’ income typically arrives, you know when their pre-authorized payments come out and you control the timing of their service fees. With the right digital platform, you can send reminders or alerts to help members avoid incurring unnecessary fees — or even unilaterally defer taking a fee when the account is empty — as appropriate. You’ll lose some revenue, but it’s actually a win-win: You’re not only creating goodwill and building trust with members (a long-term positive); you’re going a long way toward neutralizing the advantage of no-fee fintechs.
You Lack Multi-Channel Integration
Modern financial institutions offer their members the opportunity to interact through multiple channels: traditional in-branch banking, internet and mobile banking, telephone banking, and potentially even “house calls” by lending or investment specialists.
Giving members the freedom to choose which channel they prefer is a definite positive, but only to a point. If you force them to leave a channel to complete their task, that goodwill evaporates and becomes a negative. Sending members from your app or website to the branch, or making them wait to receive something in the mail, isn’t good enough any more. Sooner or later, members or potential members will find a more-obliging financial services provider.
You can avoid this particular “pain point” easily enough by using a fully integrated platform that offers an end-to-end customer solution in each channel.
Your Digital Platform Has “Mobility issues”
When you think of “mobility issues” affecting your member relationships, it’s probably in terms of the branch layout and how well it complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act. That’s still important, but your digital platform may also have issues with mobility. In this case, it’s how mobile-friendly you are.
This applies to both your mobile app and your website. A growing portion of all web searches and online transactions originate on a mobile device, so if your site is not mobile-friendly and your app is lackluster you’ll struggle to retain members and keep them engaged.
Ideally, both your app and your web presence would have a completely consistent interface, so it’s easy for anyone – from aging hippies to 20-something “digital natives” – to navigate between them. They should also be fully integrated, so a process that’s started on one device can be finished from another. That’s the level of seamlessness expect, and their expectations are constantly on the rise. If you aren’t leading, you’re losing.
It’s Hard to Resolve Problems
It’s a sad truth that no business gets it right all of time. We like to think that, given the opportunity, we’ll at least make it right, but sometimes we fall short on that front as well. There are many reasons for this: call centers or customer support teams that aren’t always available, inadequately trained support staff or contractors, failure to identify customer needs and create support procedures to meet them, or — worst of all — policies that actively militate against satisfying the customer.
Some of these are easier to fix than others. Off-the-shelf “chatbots” are readily available, and many are good enough to deal with the majority of customer problems. Improved feedback channels for customers and staff can give you early warning of trouble spots in your processes, so you can fix them quickly and limit the damage. Customer-journey mapping can identify weaknesses in your processes or support-staff training, and should be a standard part of your customer experience strategies.
You can also reduce your institution’s support burden by choosing a digital platform that comes complete with its own support and call center.
You Convey an Impersonal “Always be Selling” Attitude
Retailers often mandate that their front-line staff routinely pitch the in-house credit card at every transaction. This indiscriminate “sales targets come first” ethos doesn’t transfer well to financial institutions, especially in the wake of episodes like the 2008 crash and the Wells-Fargo scandal. It’s doubly jarring at credit unions or community banks, which typically market themselves has having a “people-first” or “member-first” approach.
Obviously, it’s important to have (and meet) revenue-generation goals, but a scattershot approach may do more harm than good. If you truly know your members, the services and products you suggest can be rooted directly in their own financial needs and goals. This is a win-win: It provides better value to your clients and makes them feel personally understood and appreciated; in turn, your marketing efforts gain greater acceptance.
The simplest way to make this happen is through a digital platform with advanced analytics capability that can anticipate your users’ needs by drawing on their existing user data.
Lumin Digital Can Help
There is no single “magic bullet” to help you identify and avoid these practices. Staying on top of member engagement, and member needs, requires a full-time commitment to using all of the tools at your command. We believe strongly that the right digital platform is one of the most-powerful of those tools, and that Lumin Digital is the right digital platform.
It’s a fast, powerful platform that seamlessly integrates your products and services, and offers them across platforms with a modern, intuitive and consistent interface. The product includes support, fully trained and ready to go on Day One, to reduce the burden on your institution. Lumin also includes advanced analytics capability to help you refine and personalize the way you market your products, and you can use the Application Programming Interface (API) to customize it further.
Contact us today to request a demo and find out how Lumin Digital can help your institution survive and thrive in an increasingly competitive, data-driven environment.