A few generations ago, it was normal for consumers to consider their financial institution a lifelong partner. They might open a savings account as a child, open a checking account when they got their first job, take out a car loan not long after and, before long, come in for a mortgage. Many of our parents and grandparents expected to work with the same person for each of these transactions.
Today’s financial services landscape is different.
We’re less likely to live in the town where we grew up. People tend to stay at their jobs for less time. And online fintech startups now compete with traditional financial brands for customers and members in any geographic region.
All this means that it’s rare for customers or members to see their financial brand as a lifelong partner, which can hurt everyone involved. Individuals have fragmented financial lives and may not be enjoying the benefits of getting multiple services from one provider. Financial brands are less able to provide the kind of holistic financial advice that customers want.
So what does it take to reestablish your brand as a lifelong financial partner for your customers or members? It starts with empowering your relationship managers.
Everything Starts with Relationships
A recent Fannie Mae survey found that only 24 percent of Americans report staying with their current financial institution because of its trustworthiness and reliability. Further, fewer than half said they’d be likely to recommend their financial institution to a friend or family.
To shift these attitudes, financial institutions have to empower relationship managers to engage with customers and members in more meaningful ways with the goal of:
- Anticipating customer and member needs.
- Educating customers and members about products and services that can meet those needs at crucial transition moments.
- Advising customers and members about which product or service will work best for their unique situation.
Of course, it’s only possible for relationship managers to achieve that goal by truly getting to know customers. Financial brands can enable relationship managers to get to know customers and members at scale by investing in technology that supports them in this effort.
Power Relationships at Scale
The best relationship managers are great at sprinkling personal touches into their work – sending a happy anniversary card to a couple, for example, or remembering to ask about the yearly family beach trip.
But even the best of the best can’t do the legwork required to remember every customer or member’s birthday, anniversary, vacation plans, kids’ names and so on. With the right tech platform, though, they don’t have to – the solution does that work for them so they can focus on engaging with the people they serve.
Think of this tech as a team of assistants to handle the relationship-building work that relationship managers would do if they had 300 hours per day.
A solution like this helps relationship managers create a virtuous circle:
- The better they know their customers or members, the better they can anticipate, educate and advise.
- The better relationship managers execute on the above, the more they earn customers’ and members’ trust.
- The more customers and members trust their relationship manager, the more likely they are to go to that person for their next transaction.
- The more transactions customers and members complete with their relationship manager, the better the relationship manager gets to know them.
Over time, this cycle creates a flywheel of energy, and customers and members are motivated to stay with their financial institution for life.
Reward Relationship-Building Behavior
It’s in the financial organization’s best interest to attract and retain customers or members for life, so it’s important that they not just enable relationship managers to do this but also incentivize behavior that leads to relationship-building (rather than only incentivizing behavior that drives short-term or one-time profit).
To do this, financial brands can focus on recognizing and rewarding steps that contribute to maintaining customers and members for life, including:
- Adoption and use of relationship-enabling technology (early in the process).
- Use of journey-specific customer content for existing customers and members.
- Age of customer accounts.
Attaching short-term rewards and incentives to behavior that benefits the business in the long term will help create a customer-centric culture that both wins customer trust and benefits the larger financial organization.
Let Relationship Managers Do More of What They Do Best
In the last few decades, our shifting lifestyles and rapidly evolving technology have led to decreased trust of financial brands. By restoring the human touch to customer and member interactions, relationship managers can recover lost ground and inspire loyalty among the people they serve.
Financial brands can make it possible for relationship managers to do even more of that – the work they do best – by investing in the technology necessary to understand customers intimately and communicate with them in hyper-relevant ways at scale.