Superior, personalized customer service is nothing new. It’s inherent to any consumer transaction, and even more so when it comes to working with people’s personal finances. But the definition of what superior and personalized service is is changing. In today’s digital world, consumers have more information, and thus more choices than ever before.
With advances in digital marketing, bots, and targeted ads, the online experience has become more personalized than ever, and all without any sort of human interaction. Nowadays, a customer looking to buy a new electronic device might start by asking for advice for friends, then move online to research and compare products, and might go into a physical store to get the “hands-on” experience. But when it comes time to actually make a purchase, a growing number of consumers are turning to the mobile channel.
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 according to KPMG’s Mobile Banking 2015 report, mobile is already the largest banking channel by transaction volume among North American financial institutions. As a result, personal relationships may be suffering.
The downside of digital: spam
With the sheer amount of digital data and information available, consumers are able to be make more decisions independently. In order to keep up, many business giants have jumped into the digital fray. Digital communication is easy to mass-market, and companies are able to reach more customers than ever before. But there’s a flip side to mass communication: customers are already inundated with so much digital advice, they’ve become extra wary of what appears to be spam.
In a study in The Economist, “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 mostly just insert their names into generic messages.
Customers can tell when they are the target of mass, untargeted communications. When customers feel like just a number, going digital is actually working against that feeling of personalization. With regards to the financial industry, it can feel like their advisor doesn’t know them at all. A Digital Banking Report called “The Power of Personalization in Banking” cites a study by Personetics which says only 31% of customers feel their banks know them and their financial needs well. And a whopping 28% believe their institutions put their interests before those of their customers.
Digitization is a powerful tool for financial institutions, but only if used properly.
So how to go digital without alienating customers?
Going digital is both necessary and helpful for financial institutions. As technology continues to advance and customer mindsets change along with it, those in the financial sector will have to change with the times or be left behind.
Digitization has revolutionized the speed, scale, and style of communications. Not to mention it has the ability to streamline your workflow and increase productivity. But to avoid alienating customers, it’s best to combine new technology with old-fashioned customer service.
Sending messages targeted to address needs actually felt by the customer are generally very successful.
Customers want personalized services. They want to feel connected to their financial advisor. It’s about finding the fine line between feeling more connected and feeling spammed with impersonal communications. Done properly, digitization can help close the customer experience gap and stay at the forefront of customers minds.