In This Article
In this article
Customer expectations are higher than ever, and for your financial brand to succeed, it needs to be able to not just meet these expectations, but exceed them. This article explores three things your marketing team can do to deliver better customer experiences:
- Understand your customers’ intent
- Automate your content delivery
- Leverage partner marketing efforts
There’s a common challenge that businesses across industries are facing, and that’s growing customer expectations. Whether they’re engaging with a retailer, their local gym, or their bank, customers expect more from their brands. They want to be understood, they want their needs met quickly and seamlessly, and they want highly personalized interactions.
For brands in the financial services sector, this trend is prompting a notable shift in how they deliver their products and services, as well as how they engage with their customers. At the end of the day, the brands that stand out will be the ones that can meet and exceed expectations — and it all starts with their marketing efforts.
A brand’s marketing efforts are often the consumer’s first opportunity to form an impression of the brand. This is the first chance a brand has to signal that it might have more to offer from a customer experience perspective than its competitors—and this makes marketing a vital component of shaping customer expectations.
How Customer Expectations Have Evolved and Why
Let’s take a closer look at how exactly customer expectations are changing and the drivers behind this shift.
Customer expectations are defined as the behaviors and actions that individuals anticipate when they’re interacting with a business or organization. Traditionally, these expectations have been limited to the quality of the product and service, fair pricing, and civil interactions with brand representatives. Modern consumers, meanwhile, have refined their expectations to include proactive services, personalized communications, connected experiences, and more.
There are many reasons behind this transformation. First, customers are increasingly exposed to seamless digital experiences that they want replicated in all their brand interactions. Second, as more and more brands emerge across sectors the power of the consumer is higher than ever.. They have options to choose from, and brands must prioritize customer experience if they want to capture attention.
Recent research from Salesforce indicates that 88% of customers believe the experience a business provides is as important as its products and services. And researchers believe that soon the value of experiences will even surpass that of products and services.
The experiences that customers are looking for include:
- A deep understanding of who they are
- Connected, cohesive customer journeys across multiple channels
- Personalized experiences that address specific needs and concerns
- A flexible approach to how they can engage with the brand
Not meeting these expectations can quickly lead customers to look for alternatives — a reaction that aligns with current churn rates. In fact, according to Salesforce, 71% of consumers switched brands at least once in 2022 as priorities, lifestyles, or financial situations changed.
So, what can marketers do to meet these expectations head-on?
1. Understand Your Customers’ Intent
The first thing your marketing team can do is get to know your customers and where they’re coming from.
Who are they? What are they looking for? Are there any shifts in the economy or the market that may be changing their behavior? How do they feel about your brand? These are all important questions to ask as you understand your customer audience.
You’ll be able to get some of this data from any demographic information you have from your existing customers. However, there’s also value in taking a qualitative approach and surveying members and prospects to get a better sense of your target audience.
Defining customer segments will also be important. Not all of your customers have the same needs, and you should be able to group them based on their level of financial literacy, household income, generation, and more. This detailed understanding of your customer groups will help you create more targeted content that meets their specific needs.
With your customer segments defined, you can then outline what the standard customer journey looks like for each one. With the right attribution data, you’ll be able to identify which marketing efforts are the most effective at getting customers to engage with your brand and convert.
2. Quality and Speed: Automate the Content You Share
Personalization is a huge component of positive customer experiences today. Customers want to feel understood and don’t want to waste time with offers or communications that don’t align with their needs.
Delivering these custom experiences effectively requires a couple of things: lots of customer data and the right technology to leverage it. As marketers, you can capture data around how a prospective customer is engaging with your website, content marketing materials, or email communications. You can then use these behaviors to automatically put customers into messaging flows that nurture the prospect based on their interests. These targeted and personalized communications ensure that you’re not overloading the customer with unnecessary information that could hinder their experience.
For marketing automation to be effective, you also need to be very intentional and transparent with the information you’re sharing. You don’t want a customer to decide they want a financial product or service, only for them to arrive at the sign-up page and learn that they don’t qualify or that there’s a surprise fee they weren’t informed about in your marketing materials.
It’s also vital to remember the human element in these interactions. As Arad Levertov, CEO of Sunbit, said in a recent Forbes piece, “positive human experiences in financial services shouldn’t be the exception but the norm.” As you market to them, think about how your customers may be feeling and give them multiple opportunities to indicate their preferences.
3. Leverage Affiliate Marketing to Meet Customers Where They Are
Trust is another key component for a positive customer experience, and affiliate or partner marketing is a great way to generate it. Similar to a customer referral, affiliates provide third-party insights on a brand, product, or service. With the right partnerships in place — and leveraging your customer segment data — you can hone your message, ensuring that you’re touching on the key pain points and needs of their specific audience.
In this way, affiliate marketing gives you the opportunity to leverage the trust your partner has already built with their community. It gives customers the opportunity to engage in a conversion journey that feels catered to their preferences and interests — thus optimizing their experience. One way to ensure your partnerships give you a competitive edge is to equip your partner with a unique offer tailored to their audiences. For example, you could offer a product, service, or discount that is only accessible via that particular relationship. Engagement with this promotion could then automatically put customers into a specific messaging flow, as we outlined above.
The other benefit of partner marketing is that it lets you reach these audiences where they already are, rather than interrupting them with ads. Digital ads are known to have a relatively low return on investment due to their prevalence and the fact that many people find them intrusive and install ad blockers on their browsers to avoid them.
Meanwhile, they are actively visiting sites they trust to learn more about personal finances and the choices they should make with their funds. As a financial brand, you can publish content on a well-known financial blog, and become a recognized entity with an interested audience that may want to become members of your institution down the line—all while you drive up to 45% of your overall digital acquisition, just like large financial institutions.
Staying Ahead of Changing Expectations
Customer expectations are in constant flux — and that poses a significant challenge to marketing teams that want to be proactive in their efforts. The trick? Keep your finger on the pulse and engage customers in meaningful conversations so that you can get their feedback early and often.
For marketers at financial institutions, there’s also the added pressure of operating within a strict regulatory landscape. Compliance is a must, especially when it comes to how you handle customer data and the type of messaging you use in your marketing materials. Finding the right balance of innovation and compliance will require added creativity as well as the right technology to support your efforts.
Navigating these challenges will be an ongoing effort for your team. But once you get it right, having satisfied and loyal customers will be more than worth it.
Want to learn more about how your marketing team can stay ahead of customer expectations with the right platforms? Talk to a specialist today.