Social currency

Customer experience is a huge differentiator for financial services providers. A .7% interest rate is the same .7% at one bank as the next, but service can vary widely. Meanwhile, we’re still recovering from – or in the middle of, depending on whom you ask – our recent economic woes. The financial services industry is plagued by consumer distrust, which has led to low customer loyalty.

Switching is both a nightmare and an opportunity for financial service providers, including banks, insurance providers, financial advisors, credit card providers, and others. The bad: your customers are looking around, so it’s more important than ever to delight and retain them. The good: your competitors’ customers are looking too, and with the right offering, you may be able to win their business. Providers are dedicating more resources to the customer experience to drive acquisition, retention, and lifetime customer value. But what’s the best way to delight customers?

To find the answer, we went straight to the social data. In our new Q3 Conversation Index, we took a deep dive into the customer content collected across our financial services clients to uncover trends in customer sentiment, language and more. Here are a few of the findings.

Acquire new customers – focus on frictionless experiences

Switching financial service providers is a major hassle. Customers typically have to jump through hoops to disentangle themselves from their current providers – the last thing they want in a new provider is complicated or inconvenient processes. Financial services customers for less than four years tend to use the words “easy,” “helpful,” “awesome,” “happy,” and “experience” in their feedback. Focus on delivering easy and helpful experiences to your newest customers to make their switch satisfying from the very beginning. Encourage them to speak up, and use these authentic opinions to attract new customers by actively emphasizing what your newest customers love most about your service.

Retain current customers – be courteous and listen

More tenured customers (10+ years with the provider) use “courteous” and “convenient” in their reviews. This is where excellent experiences separate firms with loyal long-term customers from those with retention issues. These customers are more vocal – those with the provider for 20+ years contribute more content (32% of all reviews) than any other group, and they want to be heard. To deliver an excellent experience, listen to what these vocal customers have to say, and act on it. Show them you’re listening by thanking them for their opinions – even the negative ones – and communicating changes you make based on their feedback.

Maximize lifetime value – proactively manage satisfaction

While they’re the most vocal, long-term customers are also less satisfied than newer customers. Customers with a firm for less than a year leave 8% higher average product ratings. Keeping your customers happy requires monitoring their happiness over time. Find the point where they switch from “very satisfied” to “satisfied,” and be proactive. Target marketing to this stage in the lifecycle, and reward the loyalty of your customers to keep them feeling appreciated. During the period where satisfaction typically starts to drop, what are the most common complaints? Use social data to find what’s hurting your brand, and work to fix the problem.

To retain customers, you don’t have to be the financial services provider that gets everything right. Be the one that cares enough about your customers to keep listening and improving, and your customers will tell you what it takes to keep them loyal. For more trends and recommendations, download the full Q3 Conversation Index.

Conversation Index
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    Amazing write-up! This could aid plenty of people find out more about this particular issue. Are you keen to integrate video clips coupled with these? It would absolutely help out. Your conclusion was spot on and thanks to you; I probably won’t have to describe everything to my pals. I can simply direct them here!

  • http://twitter.com/txTDM Tara DeMarco

    Really helpful search stats Kent, thanks for sharing!  And thank you for reading!

  • Kent White

    This really points out the value of inviting customer conversations on banking websites.  With trust at all-time lows, the words of real customers are vital to establishing and maintaining trust for potential bank customers.  Just as important is the insight customers provide: nothing provides a clearer road map for improvements.

    What’s really fascinating is how many people are now actively looking for the authentic voice of consumers to help them make banking decisions.  Just go to Google Trends and enter the search terms “bank reviews” or “credit union reviews” – the former is up by 4x the norm, the latter by 30-40x the norm.  Remove the word “reviews” however, and the trend is almost flat.

    This represents a tremendous opportunity for financial institutions to leverage the voice of their customers to drive business results, and provide the kind of differentiation FIs need.