Mobile apps, direct deposit and online banking have all improved the consumer banking experience from a time-investment and ease-of-transaction perspective. But, in the process, these tools have also removed the everyday personal interactions that the banking industry was largely built on.
People no longer have a need to go into their financial institutions to check account balances, deposit money or apply for loans. And as long as COVID-19 and its variants exist, many people will continue to actively look for ways to avoid going into public buildings altogether.
But just because consumers don’t physically visit their financial institution’s branches as often as they once did, it doesn’t mean they want to completely abolish the human interactions they associate with their bank or credit union.
According to a recent study, consumers still want a strong connection with their financial institution — but on their terms. They want to know that their funds are protected, their data is secure and that they can get the information they need when and how they want it.
Often the best way to reinforce that strong connection is through a phone call. But there is a catch:
If the consumer initiates contact, more than half of them prefer to reach out using their provider’s mobile app. But, when the roles are reversed, only 18% of people want their financial institution to contact them through a digital means. Instead, it’s the phone call that gives consumers a greater sense their information is being handled safely — particularly in situations that require more security like suspected fraud or loan applications. The personalized attention reassures them that their business is valued.
What People Want
When they need something, people would rather hop on their banking provider’s mobile app. But, if the bank has to reach out, consumers prefer a phone call.
As consumer demand for technology and digital innovation grows, an increase in security threats follows, especially in regard to financial matters. When asked to rank the most secure form of communication with their primary financial institution, one out of three respondents said they believe a phone call is the most secure — more than twice as secure as mobile banking (18%), email (18%) and text/SMS (12%).
It’s no surprise that this sentiment only increases when the bank or credit union is calling about an urgent matter, where 86% of respondents said they prefer to speak with a live person instead of text or an alternative message. Phone calls are also preferred when financial institutions are calling in regards to suspected fraud (36%), financial planning (36%), new loan information (32%) and investment opportunities (31%).
While it’s true that consumers want their banking providers to call them, that doesn’t mean they’re answering their phones. Nine out of ten consumers want banks and credit unions to clearly identify themselves when calling, because nearly two-thirds of survey respondents reported missing a call from their financial institution because they did not recognize the number. For better or worse, people generally assume that unidentified callers are spam or unwanted calls, despite the fact such calls can be important.
While on the surface, an unidentified phone number may not seem that significant, it can however lead to major implications for the financial institution: 70% of respondents stated they would leave their current bank or credit union for one that could properly identify themselves when calling (with all other things being equal).
Branded Calling As An Engagement Option
Given the need for institutions to provide consumers with a level of familiarity, transparency and trust so that they want to answer the phone, banks and credit unions should consider adopting a technology to make that possible: branded calling.
Some organizations think the solution to getting consumers to answer their phone is to tell them they’ll be receiving a call on a certain date, around a certain time and to just answer every call in that window. The problem with this approach is that it asks consumers to open themselves up for additional risk and unnecessarily exposes them to scam callers. Instead of guaranteeing a positive and trusted consumer interaction with the financial institution, it is being left to chance.
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Branded calling on the other hand — also known as enhanced calling technology — takes a different approach. It is essentially a marketing technology that enables companies to display their name, logo, and reason for calling prominently on the call recipient’s mobile device so the caller is instantly recognizable. It alerts the consumer as to the purpose of the call, so the interaction — and conversation — can begin before the call is even answered.
It takes a previously unbranded channel (quite often the only unbranded channel for organizations) and customizes it to the brand using it. It supports and augments branding efforts happening in other channels. Branded calling increases call answer rates, which provides a competitive advantage in cultivating closer relationships with people (and therefore more brand loyalty) to spending less time tracking consumers down on the phone and more time on tasks that matter.
Branding the call (and owning the channel) gives financial institutions the opportunity to control the consumer interaction from the moment the phone rings, improving the odds of a live connection. In an increasingly digital world, businesses should strive to meet people where they want to interact, and branded calling could play a key role in improving customer service and increasing loyalty.