Offering superior, personalized member service isn’t new – it’s inherent in credit union philosophy. But it is more challenging today. The digital world means consumers have more choices than ever, and less need for personal interactions. For example, before purchasing an activity tracker to motivate regular exercise, a would-be customer might start out by asking friends about their FitBit or Garmin Vivofit. Next, maybe she goes online to do some research and price comparisons. Or, perhaps she visits a retail store for a “hands-on” experience. But when it’s time to actually make a purchase, a growing number of consumers are turning to the mobile channel – one that doesn’t offer many touches.
The Internet Retailer 2016 Mobile 500 Guide reports that mobile sales were 29.7% of all North American e-commerce sales in 2015, up from 24.6% in 2014. And among North American financial institutions, mobile is already the largest banking channel by transaction volume, according to KPMG’s Mobile Banking 2015 report. As a result personal member relationships may be suffering.
Is digital hazardous to credit unions’ health?
Credit unions have a long-standing reputation for knowing their members, but can that continue when most interactions are do-it-yourself? Incomplete knowledge of members’ needs, untargeted communications and a lack of information about members’ current product and service usage can nibble away at the relationship leaving consumers feeling like their credit union is just another utility – and one is as good (or bad) as another. In fact, in a Lyris study for The Economist’s Intelligence Unit, “Mind the Digital Marketing Gap,” research showed that 70% of consumers are jaded by what they consider to be superficial efforts at personalization. And 63% say they’ve grown numb to efforts that mostly just insert their names into generic messages.
It gets worse. In its March research report, “The Power of Personalization in Banking,” the Digital Banking Report cites a study by Personetics, which says only 31% of customers feel their banks know them and their financial needs well. And nearly as many (28%) say their institutions put their own interests ahead of customer needs. The study placed customers in three groups based on their perceptions about their banks: “necessary utility” (they have to use it for day-to-day money management), “useful service” (helpful but not personal to the customer or his situation) and “trusted partner” (offers personalized guidance and support). Only one in four customers felt their bank is a trusted partner.
To paraphrase Bill Gates, why do businesses ask how they can keep their customers happy? Because if they don’t, someone else will. The retail world is getting the message: The 2016 Marketing Study by Black Ink ROI found that 79% of firms listed a customer-centric focus as their number-one priority for 2016. And while credit unions are still ahead of the game, the industry has lost ground in the past year, with a rating that has slipped to 81. By comparison, Amazon and Trader Joe’s each scored 83.
What’s a credit union to do?
Marketers often say personalization is a top strategy, yet according to the Lyris-EIU Unit study, 68% don’t even rank understanding email best practices as a critical skill. Even so, the study concluded that consumers are much more likely to feel valued when they receive digital offers that are customized and include knowledge of previous transactions.
A satisfying member experience with messaging targeted to felt needs can reap excellent returns. The Personetics study reported that when customers consider their PFI to be a trusted partner, they are much more likely to promote the bank’s brand – with 74% of customers being promoters, compared with 34% who don’t even view their bank as a partner. And recent research by CGI found that consumers want personalized services, and they want to be rewarded for their business. As Personetics CEO David Sosna says, “Success in this new digital banking era will be defined by a bank’s ability to deliver meaningful, trusted interactions that help customers manage their financial lives.”
At Doxim, the Campaign Management module of our Customer Engagement Platform is designed specifically to help credit unions personalize communications to their members across all channels, driving up satisfaction and loyalty. Our experience has shown that understanding your members’ needs and interests not only increases the value of interactions, but also increases brand loyalty. And with full support of responsive email messaging formats, that display as well on a smart phone as on a PC screen, Doxim Campaign Management ensures that your marketing messages get read, regardless of the form factor of the recipient’s electronic device.
Consistently providing an excellent, seamless member experience requires a two-pronged commitment: 1) Choosing a quality CRM service provider that has the business data-management tools and capabilities to help you target personalized interactions and engage members in any channel; and 2) providing staff with the ongoing training and support to ensure success. Personalized attention strengthens your member relationships, and keeps them engaged. As a result, they’ll be less likely to hit the road looking for another PFI.
Sean O’Donovan, Chief Marketing Officer