Community financial institutions have strong relationships with their customers – closer than their much larger competitors. It’s a welcome advantage in an industry facing tough competition from big banks, big fintech and even big retail.
But with consumers demanding more convenience in their communication channels of choice, those ties that you’ve built can be in jeopardy, unless you pay attention to “The Experience Gap” – the disconnect between what your customers expect each time they interact with their PFI versus what actually occurs. And today, that gap is becoming a chasm as the digitized world expands.
This widening gap, between your customers’ expectations of a perfect digital relationship and your ability to deliver it, is threatening your business and putting your valuable customer relationships at risk.
What’s a financial institution to do?
Simply avoiding digital channels or, worse, paying them short shrift won’t work. Credit unions and community banks must offer digitized services to remain competitive. Especially if they want to attract Millennials and Gen Xers as new customers. In fact, very soon, it will be a matter of survival: Accenture’s 2015 Digital Banking Survey showed the number-one reason North American consumers stay with their banks is a good online experience.
With this in mind, here are a few things you can think about doing to bridge the Experience Gap:
Get started on the right foot – Offer a frictionless, digital customer experience when you onboard new customers or issue new loans, without all the paper and time it typically consumes. Your customers will appreciate not having to give you the same information time and time again, and your staff will get more time to have that all-important revenue-building conversation.
Engage more fully with each customer – Your customers see all of their interactions with your organization as one conversation. Do you? By deploying Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software you can ensure that every customer touch point is noted and recorded, regardless of origin, so customers never have to repeat themselves and feel like you’ve been listening to them. That way your customers’ interactions will serve to augment, vs. fragment, their overall experience with your institution.
Find out what your customers actually need and want – Collect, store, aggregate and analyze customer data across multiple channels and back-office systems using CRM and Business Intelligence. This will help you pinpoint opportunities to offer the right products and services to the right customer at the right time. Personalized and pertinent communications deliver a more compelling experience, engaging your customers and making them feel like you really understand their needs.
Identify more opportunities to communicate – Take your regulatory communications to the next level. Redesign your statements so they are more customer friendly, with targeted marketing messages that reflect the messaging used in your other promotional
It’s a great way to turn a simple statement into a powerful marketing vehicle.
Prioritize your needs then just get going – Remember, it doesn’t have to be a big bang effort. You can begin your digitization journey just about anywhere that’s most pressing and simply build from there. So long as you keep an eye on the end game – of bridging the experience gap to retain customers, attract new ones, and streamline your key customer-focused processes.
These simple, digitized approaches will help keep customers close for the long term and go a long way towards bridging your own Experience Gap.
Want to learn more ways you can overcome the Experience Gap? Download our latest eBook: “The Experience Gap: The real threat for community banks and credit unions.”
Sean O’Donovan, Chief Marketing Officer