Money talks. So how can banks continue to communicate with customers on an emotional level as technology continues to increase the physical divide?
Much has been made of the swathe of local branch closures in 2017, but what’s the truth about how customers want to interact, now and in the future, with their bank?
Research tells us 17% of people visit their local bank once a year or never. And only one in 10 people visit their bank weekly.
The statistics suggest there’s less face-to-face contact between banks and their customers and a rise in the use of phone, digital banking and chatbots.
Research from Accenture highlights another issue. Emotionally connected customers deliver 52% more value over and above that from customers who are highly satisfied but not emotionally connected.
Clearly, emotions influence banking behaviours that impact the bottom line. So how can banks make sure they retain an emotional connection with customers when communicating at a distance?
A smart approach
To understand how to retain emotional value, we need to examine how our relationship with technology has transformed our lives.
Customer activity on banking apps has soared by 354% since 2012, with 159 logins occurring every second during 2016. Another eye-catching statistic from dscout reports that we each have, on average, 2,617 interactions with our smartphones per day.
It will surprise no one that smartphones have become an integral part of our lives. According to Deloitte:
- 80% of people interact with their phone during conversations with friends
- 78% engage with their phones on public transport
- 68% of people use their smartphone while having dinner with family
We all know what it feels like to leave our phone at home. Connected devices are playing a part in almost every part of our lives and every emotional experience, from capturing a child riding their bike for the first time, to chatting to family living abroad.
Phasing out face-to-face
This highlights a paradox which may in fact offer the answer for banks looking to retain a strong emotional relationship with customers.
On the one hand, personal finances are people’s lives. Money not only allows us to pay our bills, it gives us the freedom to plan our future. There is a strong link between our emotions and our money.
And as our relationship with smartphone technology becomes more emotionally ingrained in our lives, our ability to connect emotionally with brands, including banks, ‘from a distance’ is also increasing.
FinTech companies such as Atom Bank are already taking advantage of this connection by offering customers the chance to customise logos and names on their online account.
The challenge for brands is to now maintain this emotional connection across every other touchpoint, from direct mail to contact centres, print advertising, radio and TV.
The future is already here
So where is the customer experience in banking headed? Artificial intelligence (AI) is already changing how firms interact with customers, and banking is no different.
A new service from Capital One allows customers to manage their accounts via Amazon Alexa-enabled devices such as Echo.
And in Asia, DBS digibank has partnered with AI platform, KAI Banking, to lead conversations with its customer base which currently stands at over 1million. The figures are impressive, with 82% of the branchless bank’s customer enquiries being handled without any human input whatsoever. The chatbot already holds the answers to over 10,000 banking-related questions, (and is learning more all the time) making it easy for customers to get an answer wherever they are and at any time.
Know Your Customer (KYC) is another area where technology is being used to make life easier for the customers of mobile-only banks. eKYC as its known, allows digital providers to verify the identity of customers through biometrics such as remote facial recognition software. Again, DBS digibank is one of the providers blazing a trail in this area, allowing new customers to take a photo of their ID documents alongside facial recognition software to open up an account.
But it would be wrong to assume that AI and biometrics will reduce the emotional connection between banks and their customers. In fact, technology will be able to learn and adapt to what individual customers want and need, giving them an improved, consistent and more personalised experience every time they interact with their bank.
So what does this mean for marketers?
While in-branch interaction may be on the wane as banks look to cut costs, it doesn’t have to lead to an emotional disconnect with customers. AI is simply providing the next phase of customer experience and has a place in the wider marketing mix.
AI and biometrics aren’t replacing marketers – they are offering an enriched transactional customer experience to elicit emotional responses. For example, a 24/7 chatbot with over 10,000 answers is more convenient than waiting in a queue at a branch during your lunchbreak to get a simple answer. Freeing up customers’ time to do others things is invaluable. Banner ads don’t have off-days, there’s no hold music to listen to before dealing with a chatbot, and the messaging across all channels still needs the human touch.
AI may be about automation, but it still has an emotional impact – you can take that to the bank.
Get in touch with us now to discover how we can tap into your customers’ emotions to create campaigns that get attention, engage and deliver a positive ROI.