As entire communities self-isolate, many banks are temporarily closing branches where and when it makes sense. Some are closing lobbies and restricting access only to drive-through windows. All of these developments are interrupting customer interactions.
While these are significant challenges, I believe there can be positive outcomes. This pandemic could be a catalyst for banking clients to accelerate their use of digital banking tools and to begin a migration to digital banking services for consumers who have been more branch dependent.
Over the past decade, banks have made large investments in digital banking services. Now is the time to provide customers with further education on how to use these services, thereby helping to increase adoption. This communication should be about the customer, not the product or service. This can provide peace of mind to customers who need to make a timely deposit, pay their bills, check on their savings, or have their loan application approved.
Our discussions with financial services leaders showed us they have several questions:
- How do we serve customers at this important time of need and in a way that is differentiated and shows concern?
- Are there opportunities to accelerate the migration to digital services, hich have been important to our business and can help solve problems our customers are facing?
- What strategies should we employ coming out of the downturn to capture market share and redefine our business?
- What actions can we take to help our clients and build loyalty?
Proactive, timely updates on financial matters can also display a genuine concern and make customer interactions as easy as possible. We all know the level of comfort we get from airlines’ mobile application that informs us of flight status and the fact our checked bag has reached the intended destination – not Hawaii when we’re in Chicago. Customers who are fully engaged with digital banking services can receive similar levels of service – as we know most services do not require a visit to a branch.
There are many steps that help customers, but here are a few we believe warrants strong consideration:
1. Identify customers who are branch dependent (based on internal bank data, third-party data, and targeting analytics) and develop communication strategies that educate and promote the use of digital banking services. This will improve service during a time of transition and establish digital services in an underpenetrated customer segment, which can have a lasting impact.
2. Create personalized solutions. A general message of support does not recognize customers and what they need. Communications should help customers deal with their specific issues. If they are specific and solve today’s problems, they will stand out from other communications they receive. For example, these communications could explain the status of in-progress loan applications or provide insights into how a changing financial situation will affect their credit scores.
3. Proactively provide online financial fitness tools. Anticipate questions and integrate financial fitness advice into dialogues in customer interactions. This could include new website pages, chatbots, and social media communications. A targeted approach with customers who may be in need (overdrawn account balances, missed payments) can help. By showing customers you care, your bank will be remembered fondly.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, the consumer and small business banking industry already faced an array of challenges, including changing consumer behaviors and expectations, new fintech challengers, and a need to build stronger customer loyalty.
The pandemic may create business opportunities for banks, but it should not be treated as a product or sales opportunity. That can create a reputation risk and damage customer relationships. Banks’ strategies in this time should place customers at the forefront and show concern by providing meaningful solutions to the financial challenges consumers and small businesses are facing. By doing so, there is an opportunity for banks to redefine themselves.To learn more how banks can position themselves as trusted, valued resources for customers during this troubled time, take time to check out these videos.