As the first quarter of 2016 draws to a close, it’s a good time to look at what’s on the horizon for the rest of the year. The financial services pros at Mintel Compremedia, the world’s leading market intelligence agency, recently published their Financial Services Marketing Trends for 2016. I really enjoyed learning more about what the experts at Mintel had to say, but felt like my fellow bank and credit union marketers might want to hear more explicitly how they should be responding to these key predictions.
Mintel’s findings aren’t all directly attributed to how they affect banks and credit unions so I wanted to share my thoughts on the three trends which include: Power to the people, starting out early, watch out for me, and the human touch.
1. Power to the people
Mintel notes that technology has made people feel empowered to make their own investment decisions, without support from human advisors. This is a pretty amazing change, but while technology may be distancing advisors from investors, the opposite is happening in many areas of the banking industry. In many ways, technology has made (and will make) the lives of both customers and bankers easier and more connected for those financial institutions that are early adapters to this change in mindset.
While online banking, mobile banking, and in-branch tech tools allow customers to do more on their own, smart financial institutions are also using tech to deepen customer engagement. For example, using iPads to promote products and services in branch locations is a fun, user-friendly way to cross-sell. This approach works because, as exclusive, new research by CEB tells us, while 59% of bank and credit union customers use digital tools to learn about products and services, when it comes time to make a purchase, 64% still prefer to do so in person.
What does this mean for you? It’s no longer okay to build a great online experience and have a branch experience built for the customer of the 90s. While branch traffic is down considerably across the country, the people coming in have a purpose and are looking to have the same experiences they’ve had online. How many digital banking platforms do you have in your branches? Any iPads floating around? How are account holders greeted? It’s time to look at this experience with a new lens and determine where changes need to be made.
2. Starting earlier than ever
It’s not just a sweet song lyric — children really are the future, especially when it comes to consumerism. The cherub-faced tots of today will be the banking customers of tomorrow, and it pays to start the relationship as early as possible.
While everyone is focused on millennials (after all, they’re the largest generation ever), banks would be wise to start looking at the next generation already to ensure they don’t get left behind as they’ve been with millennials. Banks need to think about Generation Z and start answering key questions, such as:
- What does saving for college look like for them?
- How will they pay their bills and how can banks help them do that?
- What will be their communication channels of choice?
- What can banks do to be better prepared to serve them than they’ve been with millennials?
One place to look to see how to engage more with this audience is an event called Finovate. If you have never been to it, think the Gong Show for financial services. Providers are given seven minutes to a do a live demo of their financial innovation. It’s a do or die, highly choreographed event that exposes the audience to the impressive new tech that is coming out. The last few years have been filled with solutions to help engage the next generation with high-tech, fun apps to help them learn that saving is fun and easy. Deluxe even introduced SwitchAgent and eChecks to the market at this event in the past with much fanfare!
3. Who’s watching out for me?
Bank customers entrust their financial institutions with something every bit as valuable as cash — their personal data.
Consumers look for a financial institution they can trust, not only to protect their money but to protect their data as well. They have high expectations of how banks will — and won’t — use their personal data. It’s up to your financial institution to not only protect customers’ data, but to use it to help make their lives easier.
This could be something as simple as automated emails to remind account-holders of important dates like birthdays, anniversaries or tax filing deadlines. It could also mean monitoring their habits and activities to only approach them when they are truly in the market. That probably sounds too good to be true, but it’s a reality for many of our customers today.
4. We all need the human touch
Will humans one day make ourselves obsolete? Maybe, but not any time soon in the banking industry.
While tech can take over a lot, not every aspect of a customer’s banking life can be self-service. Banks should help customers self-manage simple transactional processes by building easy channels for them to do so — and at the same time let them know you’re there for them when they need more hands-on service for loans, customer service, fraud response, etc.
Every consumer study I see, including one we did with Forrester last year (you can read it here or check out the infographic, continues to reveal that the in branch experiences are still vital for the big purchases. People want to be assured they made a good decision and your highly qualified branch staff needs to be ready to validate them and close the sale.
To learn more about what Mintel had to say about these trends, download their full report.