In today’s world of constant connectivity, creating a good communication plan ranks highly for financial institutions seeking to build relationships with consumers. Financial institutions should begin with an overall strategy, rather than winging it, and ensure they are tapping the right tools, channels and techniques.
The right plan will help banks and credit unions convey important messages or educate customers about new products or services, or even promote tailored offerings. However, remember that over-communicating can be almost as dangerous as under-communicating.
Here are seven tips to use when creating a communications strategy to engage customers.
1. Communicate Consistently Across Channels
Very few mistakes can damage a brand as badly as inconsistent communications. By deploying a uniform experience through all communications, financial institutions present a unified corporate identity to the consumers and businesses they serve. Branding and corporate values must be at the heart of its communications strategy.
Occasionally, consistency across various channels can be challenging, but it is crucial to keep a consistent look and feel, whether these tools are print or digital. This also translates to in-person interactions, which are often driven by print or digital channels. When engaging with people in the branch, your staff should remain mindful of the institution’s values and branding and strive to embody those in each interaction.
2. Cross-Sell … But Carefully
Financial institutions must send many regulator-required communications. These mandatory messages offer the opportunity to cross-sell, introducing people to products and services they may not know about. It’s an opportunity to highlight limited-time promotions. Similarly, as customers receive their periodic statements, financial institutions should include new offers in these standard communications — whether they are delivered by mail or as e-statements.
Using a one-to-one marketing approach can be extremely powerful. This can demonstrate that the financial institution cares about each individual served. However, when engaging through these channels, staff must avoid coming across as insincere or driven by anything 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 scattershot approach. For more passive cross-selling, using the financial institution’s website and app effectively can educate consumers about seasonal offerings or remind them of the value of evergreen products, such as home loans.
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3. Make Sure Employees Are Informed and Trained
Digital and print communications are important, but often service hinges on people and that means they have to be i trained and kept in the loop. Without that, communications may seem disjointed — imagine a consumer approaching a branch employee about a new offer and the employee looking completely baffled.
Ensure that all frontline staff know about recent product and service launches or tailored offers made to specific customer groups so they are prepared when they come into branches.
4. Remember 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. Leveraging these channels can make it much easier to implement targeted marketing. Through digital pathways, 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. Yet for regional financial institutions, having a branch presence in their communities can be important for branding’s sake. In addition, branch traffic can be an important way for consumers to make a more personal relationship with a financial institution. Look for creative ways to use digital communications to point customers to branches for higher-level interactions — not depositing checks but engaging in conversations about wealth management or loan products.
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6. Use Data for Informed Communications
Data based on consumer’s debit or credit card activity can drive marketing communications that will genuinely serve people. By serving as trusted advisors, banks and credit unions can help them become more financially responsible by gently addressing negative payments trends. They can also communicate about tools to help customers save, such as money market accounts. As consumers identify and address overspending, over time this behavior change can enable them to save for retirement or other important financial goals.
7. Remember Print Isn’t Dead
Even today, some consumers respond better to paper communications than 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 print mail. They don’t usually consider see it as “junk mail.”
Some communications are required to be printed and mailed, which offers an important opportunity — institutions can use that print real estate to communicate about relevant offerings. Financial institutions need a strategy around print communications.
By engaging with customers using these seven tips, financial institutions can build deep, long-lasting relationships with their communities.