In today’s world of constant connectivity, creating a good communications plan is a priority for financial institutions looking to build relationships with consumers. Financial institutions should start with a comprehensive strategy, rather than using it, and ensure that they are leveraging the right tools, channels and techniques.
The right plan will help banks and credit unions deliver important messages or educate customers about new products or services, or even promote tailored offers. However, remember that over-communicating can be almost as dangerous as under-communicating.
Here are seven tips to use when creating a communication strategy to engage customers.
1. Communicate consistently across all channels
Very few mistakes can damage a brand as much as inconsistent communications. By deploying a consistent experience across all communications, financial institutions present a unified corporate identity to consumers and the businesses they serve. The brand image and the values ââof the company must be at the heart of its communication strategy.
Sometimes consistency across different channels can be difficult, but maintaining a consistent look and feel is crucial, whether these tools are print or digital. It also results in in-person interactions, which are often driven by print or digital channels. When engaging with the people of the branch, your staff should remain attentive to the values ââand branding of the institution and strive to embody them in every interaction.
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2. Cross-sellingâ¦ but cautiously
Financial institutions must send many communications required by regulators. These mandatory messages provide the opportunity to cross-sell, introducing people to products and services they may not be familiar with. This is an opportunity to highlight limited-time promotions. Likewise, as customers receive their periodic statements, financial institutions should include new offers in these standard communications, whether delivered by mail or as electronic statements.
Using a one-to-one marketing approach can be extremely powerful. This can demonstrate that the financial institution cares about each person served. However, when engaging through these channels, staff should avoid appearing to be hypocritical or motivated by something that is not in the person’s best interests.
Carefully deployed, one-to-many campaigns can bring invaluable results. Using elements of targeted marketing will help eliminate the potentially impersonal nature of the scattered approach. For more passive cross-selling, effective use of the financial institution’s website and app can educate consumers about seasonal offers or remind them of the value of enduring products, such as home loans.
3. Make sure employees are informed and trained
Digital and print communications are important, but service often depends on people and that means they need to be trained and kept up to date. Without it, communications can seem disjointed – imagine a consumer approaching a branch employee about a new deal and the employee looking utterly baffled.
Make sure all front line staff are aware of recent product and service launches or personalized offers made to specific customer groups so they are ready when they enter branches.
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4. Remember that timing is key
Find the balance between keeping consumers happy and informed without becoming a nuisance. By encouraging digital enrollment, financial institutions can enable regular interactions with customers. Taking advantage of these channels can make it easier to implement targeted marketing. Through digital avenues, including landing pages and calls to action, consumers can engage with their financial institution when they choose to do so.
5. When possible, keep branches in focus.
Branches are expensive to maintain and branch traffic is generally in decline. However, for regional financial institutions, the presence of a branch in their communities can be important for branding. In addition, branch traffic can be an important way for consumers to establish a more personal relationship with a financial institution. Look for creative ways to use digital communications to direct customers to branches for next-level interactions – not depositing checks but engaging in conversations about wealth management or loan products.
6. Use data for informed communications
Data based on consumer debit or credit card activity can drive marketing communications that will actually serve people. By serving as trusted advisors, banks and credit unions can help them become more financially responsible by gently addressing negative payment trends. They can also communicate about tools to help clients save, such as money market accounts. As consumers identify and address overspending, this change in behavior can, over time, allow them to save for retirement or other important financial goals.
( Read more: Already drowned in data, financial marketers are asking for more)
7. Remember that printing is not dead
Even today, some consumers respond better to paper communications than to digital messages. Data has consistently shown that mail from a consumer’s bank or credit union is more likely to be opened than other types of printed mail. They generally do not consider this to be “junk mail”.
Certain communications must be printed and sent by post, which offers an important opportunity: institutions can use this print space to communicate on relevant offers. Financial institutions need a strategy around print communications.
By engaging with customers using these seven tips, financial institutions can build deep and lasting relationships with their communities.