In a world dominated by technology and automation, the financial services industry finds itself at a crossroads. The rise of FinTechs and digital advancements has undoubtedly increased efficiency and convenience, but it has also given rise to a growing concern – the loss of the human touch.
Imagine a time when banking meant walking into a friendly neighborhood branch, where the teller knew your name, your financial goals, and even asked about your family. These seemingly small gestures played a vital role in fostering genuine connections and making customers feel valued. Fast forward to today, where most financial interactions occur through a touch of a screen or push of the button as a solo endeavor. In our fast paced world, in some ways this is precisely what consumers say they want and expect. Yet, we have also found in talking with them that it’s not nearly enough.
While digital convenience is undeniable, consumers also crave a personal touch when it comes to this vital aspect of their lives. When you think about it finances permeates just about everything including their livelihoods, relationships and emotional well-being. For many, finance equals stress, fueled by fears around risks, concerns with loans, regrets over poor choices, and worries about savings, retirement and making ends meet. The combination of the high stakes’ decisions and the swirl of confusion can leave consumers feeling overwhelmed and disillusioned. While they often want to do all the ‘right’ things and make progress, it’s often hard for them to know how best to navigate.
Without a personal connection, it's easy for consumers to jump ship. The search for better rates, lower fees, or trendier apps becomes more tempting than ever, leaving loyalty in the dust. This paints a rather dismal picture and a harsh reality check. Yet, the good news is that while challenging, there is also a significant opportunity at play. Un-met consumer needs open the door for savvy financial service providers to find creative new ways to drive loyalty rooted in the secret sauce of empathy.
From MarketVision’s experience conducting in-person and remote qualitative research, and surveys with thousands of financial services customers, here are just a few ways financial service providers can keep the human connection alive in the digital era.
1. Empathetic Customer Service: Reinforce with the staff the importance of small gestures, and treating customers as individuals by demonstrating genuine care and understanding.
2. Engaging Financial Education: Offer educational resources that empower customers to make informed financial decisions confidently. Develop interactive apps and platforms that turn financial education into an engaging experience rather than a mundane chore.
3. Enhanced Communication Channels: Provide various support channels to cater to different preferences and ensure customers can easily obtain assistance when needed. Offer video calls with financial advisors, where customers can see the warm smile of a real person, not just a static avatar.
4. Customer-Centric Insights: Actively listen to customers and embrace opportunities to better understand their needs, desires, frustrations, and challenges.
5. Personalized Offerings: Recognize that every person approaches finances from a unique lens and with different priorities. Go beyond one-size-fits-all solutions and provide tailored offerings and advice that meet each customer's specific needs.
The real magic lies in harnessing technology's power to preserve the human connection. By creating a financial ecosystem that embraces empathy and ensures customers feel heard, understood, and valued, financial service providers can secure lasting success in the digital era. So, embrace technology but never forget the power of the human touch.
About the Author:
Jean Nickels, VP Qualitative Research
Jean has been designing and executing qualitative research for over thirty years in a broad range of consumer and business categories including financial services. firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Author:
Kurt designs and executes research projects for a number of accounts ranging in size from large corporations to start-up entities. His broad base of experience includes serving as Managing Director of a mid-sized research organization and Ohio Practice Marketing Director with a large, multi-national accounting and consulting firm. Kurt has an MBA with a marketing concentration from The Cleveland State University where he also completed his undergraduate studies.