The holiday season is upon us again, full of exciting events and related expenses. When important events happen, seasonal or in life in general, many of us tend to spend more money than at other times. From births to weddings and funerals, so many things happen in our lives that are marked by expenses, purchases and perhaps an altered economic status going forward.
I firmly believe that the future of traditional banks relies on developing the ability to anticipate their customers’ needs and approach them with the right offer, at the right time. To do so, the banks need to gather customer insight from both physical and digital channels – and not just the banks’ own transactional data. As we reflect our lives on social media and search strings, banks need to be there to understand what we need and when we need it.
As the financial world is almost fully digitized, the potential for value chain disruption is enormous. However, I see no need to let fintech newcomers walk away with customers’ loyalty: Banks have the same access to using existing or develop the relevant tools. Perhaps more difficult, they need to develop a culture and organisational approach that allows them to act in time.
Banks are losing customers' affection
However, judging by some recent headlines, banks need to act fast. In late November, customer loyalty numbers and net promoter scores from most major banks were released and they are not encouraging reading seen from a bank director’s perspective. Double-digit drops in customer satisfaction rates are hitting some of the most prominent banks in the Nordics.
This lack of affinity is the perfect crack for fin-techs and others to pry their way into banks’ value chain with more personalised offers and tailored customer experiences. Banks need to reaffirm their bond to customers, whether the strategy dictates a primarily digital customer journey based on self-service or a high degree of personal attention from bank advisors to each customer.
Finance options in an instant
At the same time, both traditional and digital retail and telecommunications companies, under pressure from low margins, are already making their move, the latter also driven by high churn rates. Financing options for major purchases are everywhere and available at the exact moment of need. Being the sometimes non-rational creatures that we are, consumers often accept less stellar interest rates and terms in exchange for instant gratification or a to-do stricken off our long list of chores and responsibilities.
So dear bankers, please help make our lives easier. I do not mind if you profit, as long as I can get on to the next important challenge or event in my life. I think many bank customers share my sentiment.
Right now of course, the next big event for most of us are the upcoming holidays: One of the most expensive seasons in many families’ lives - and one of the very best, as we invest time and money in our closest relationships with those most important to us.
Bankers, take note.