With the growth of technology, communication options have increased. The way in which businesses interact with consumers has also evolved, and so to have consumers’ preferences for the way in which they are contacted. This digital age, defined by rapid access to information, is shaping consumer expectations and how financial institutions have to approach their customer interactions.
Why Communication Matters
For correspondence to be effective, it has to be understood in the way it was intended. In developing appropriate messages, businesses have to ensure they are easily understood, relevant, error-free, accessible and are distributed through consumers’ preferred communication channels. Ensuring your communication is effective also means that a customer will see the product or service as more readily meet their immediate need.
Clarity and relevance in all correspondence mean that the customer understands the reasoning behind why they are being contacted and why it matters. If you are not clear in what is being communicated, or you are sending erroneous or irrelevant information, then not only will this give the consumer a negative impression, but the knock-on effect becomes less interest and engagement in future messages. Similarly, errors and mistakes within communications can leave customers to doubt the capabilities of their bank.
In today’s interconnected world, consumers receive a variety of messages through multiple channels. Every individual has their own preference for how they prefer to receive information – but this can vary based upon what type of information is being delivered. Thanks to smartphones and social media, Millennial customers increasingly have expectations of more immediate and bespoke interactions with their financial institutions – meaning banks have to stay ahead of the curve and continually innovate to ensure responsiveness.
Communication in the Age of Intelligence
The challenges banks face is ensuring that necessary information and pertinent correspondence is not drowned out as a sea of spam. The application of connective data intelligence is necessary for banks to improve communications. Understanding the preferences of individual customers, and accessing them through their preferred channel to make communications feel more personal is more feasible than ever, and a feat many other businesses factor into their models. Applying digital approaches ensures financial institutions can reach their customers in a variety of ways.
Capgemini, a leading technology consulting firm, reported customer communications management (CCM) systems must be agile and fast-moving digital publishing platforms, in order to meet customer expectations. In the firm’s recent study (Retail Banking Voice of the Customer Survey), it was noted that compared to other age groups, Millennials have a lower customer experience index (by as much as 8 percent), meaning banks fall short in providing the interaction they desire. Many younger customers, especially those of the Millennial and Gen X bracket, prefer interactive and personalized communications that make them feel engaged.
Banks and Consumers
Ultimately, it is vital for financial institutions to become more agile and adaptable in ensuring their communications are responsive and reflective of the modern age. Consumers are increasingly able to tailor and modify communication preferences with a wide array of businesses, so it is natural that they would expect the same of their bank.
Both one-way and interactive communications have to respond to all of their customers’ needs, incorporating postal mail, phone services, and more modern SMS, email and app-based approaches. Customers want to hear from their banks through the channels they choose and decide when they want to receive it. This level of flexibility is a challenge for many financial institutions who also have to consider security and privacy.
A survey by Smart Communications highlighted an overwhelming 70% of UK consumers surveyed noted that their preferred channel of communication by financial institutions was via email, while only 2 out of 5 expressed satisfaction in their bank’s consideration of their preferences. Similarly, among consumers who are considering switching banks because they are annoyed with correspondence from their financial institution, a third declared they would swap banks if their recent interactions were not appropriately factored into their communications.
Consumers are empowered by the ease with which they can compare institutions, meaning if they are not pleased with how a bank is responding to their needs they can switch. Banking customers are more demanding than ever before and more impatient. They are also quick to change institutions if their needs are not being met. Simply put, banks are realizing they have to do more to make interactions positive, ensuring communications are timely, error-free and match their customer’s preferences.