Transforming customer experience in financial services with content

Selena Ricks

Selena Ricks

Brand and Marketing Communications Lead

Illustration of paper planes representing a personalized content strategy

To keep up with customer expectations, financial brands must speak authentically and take advantage of technology to meet customers where they are

Digital customer experience in financial services can vary greatly from one institution to another. A recent study by Salesforce found that 53% of financial customers would switch providers for a better digital experience.

As consumers seek financial guidance and support, providers that deliver a seamless, personalized experience stand to boost loyalty and retention over their competition. A successful approach requires consistent use of digital content to build awareness and bridge financial access gaps. With generative AI now part of the toolkit, you can show your customers three things: that you know them, you understand their needs, and you can truly add value to support them.

Know your customers: Enable personalization

Your customers are receiving many messages from competitors about the best ways to manage their finances. The only way to stand out is to deliver relevant, tailored information. Banks and other service providers have long had access to vast amounts of sensitive customer data. Digital tools such as CRM software, machine learning, and AI now make it possible to anonymize that data, automate customer segmentation, and power recommendation engines. Valuable personalization is achieved when the right products, services, and helpful content are delivered to the right person at the right time.

While implementing personalization requires investment in digital platforms, according to McKinsey, AI-based personalization can lift sales by 10% or more. However, only 6% of financial institutions say they are deploying advanced personalization technology, according to The Digital Banking Report. While there may be a perception that personalization requires technical expertise, a number of user-friendly platforms have matured to a point where virtually any marketing team can manage these solutions.

Personalization does require cross-channel collaboration to integrate siloed databases and marketing organizations and build a 360-degree view of the customer. Companies may need to create a wider range of content, offer new incentives and strategies, and deploy new tech stacks. As personalization methods are A/B tested and rolled out incrementally, key performance indicators should be captured to measure success and allow for agility, experimentation, and optimization.

Understand your customers: Meet them where they are

Opportunities for content to reduce customer friction are abundant — the key is to strike a balance between a digital and human touch. Offer information in a way that enhances a customer’s emotional connection to your organization.

According to an Accenture survey, nearly 80% of consumers view their relationship with their financial services provider as purely transactional and not advice-based. While banking may not always be the most entertaining subject, what motivates customers is the result of engaging with a financial services firm — overcoming challenges, gaining security and control, finding temporary relief, and achieving life goals, for example. Yet, according to a national study, only 16% of Millennials are considered financially literate. That means they have a lot of questions about basic tasks, such as creating budgets, deciding how much to save, and making large purchase decisions. 

On the other end of the spectrum, older generations are often slower to adopt digital banking tools and apps. They question security and, in many cases, are not given enough opportunity to learn how to use these digital solutions, may not have modern equipment, and, to be fair, many digital banking experiences have not been designed for or tested by them to ensure effective usability.

Banks and financial institutions have a major role to play in closing gaps in education, comfort level, and usability, but they must move beyond the transactional element of the customer relationship and serve as trusted advisors through lifelong financial decisions. Build better content for customers to demystify intimidating subjects such as retirement, mortgages, and investing. Launch online education and training programs that are tailor-made to reach older generations. Interactive content such as specialized calculators that give real-time feedback to users and provide a wealth of analytics can be especially powerful. 

According to the Aite Group, more than 75% of 22- to 49-year-olds say they would like to have their own virtual financial wellness coach. Consider other emerging technologies such as voice interfaces and in-app chats, and engage customers in ways that matter to them. For example, Capital One created an Alexa skill that allows users to get answers to questions like “How much did I spend at Whole Foods?” and “How much is my next mortgage payment?” as well as respond to commands such as “Pay my credit card bill.”

Capital One has also developed a program for seniors called “Ready, Set, Bank” to help seniors learn how to use online banking and to better take control of their money. The content includes self-guided videos that can be accessed through any type of device—by Capital One customers and non-customers—and offers short and thoughtfully paced lessons customized for senior learning styles. The series outlines the benefits of online banking and addresses issues of security and privacy, which seniors often identify as key obstacles preventing them from banking online. It also provides step-by-step instructions for basic digital banking functions including downloading apps, using remote deposit capture, setting account alerts, and using online bill pay.

Relate to your customers: Speak their language

The companies that can avoid MBA-speak and move past standard recommendations to deliver the in-depth, insightful, personalized, and helpful thought leadership that their customers need are the ones that will make the biggest impact. Most important is that organizations deliver messaging that shows that they genuinely care.

Even when AI tools are enabled to help generate content, financial service providers must always have human oversight to ensure customer-facing content is accurate, unbiased, and empathetic. Ensure that your messaging and tone of voice are consistent across your website, social media profiles, and marketing materials. Share editorial guidelines with your customer service employees and associates. Robots are great in the back office, but the human touch is what is called for at the storefront. 

The do’s and don’ts of speaking to customers:

Do focus your messaging on the outcomes of working with your organization. Use vivid, inspiring language such as “you can” and “get more.”

Don’t use scare tactics or lead with onerous responsibilities. 

Do break up sentences into shorter statements. It’s more conversational, impactful, and how people talk today.

Don’t lecture your audience or use industry jargon. If something is complex and needs explaining, simply explain it.

Do use inclusive pronouns such as “we, us, and our.” Remind your audience that you are their friends and neighbors.

Don’t imply that your institution is just for a certain demographic. Don’t forget everyone has different realities and aspirations.

Do show empathy by using real-life examples. When appropriate, use a positive or reassuring tone to reduce the perception of stuffiness.

Don’t use humor unless appropriate, and don’t use a crisis as a selling opportunity. Customers are on edge and are turning to your organization for authentic concern.

For financial service providers to truly resonate with customers, they must share content that shows how well they know them, understand them, and relate to them. Doing this at scale requires the right tech stack, including AI, to achieve a consistent digital experience across all channels. The sooner that financial service providers nail this strategic approach, the faster they’ll be able to meet customer expectations along their financial journey.

Written by

Selena Ricks

Brand and Marketing Communications Lead

Exploring the intersections of lifestyle, business, tech & culture.

Exploring the intersections of lifestyle, business, tech & culture.

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