“Content in context: how to change communication in financial institutions”

Taking communication to a new level. This is today’s challenge for financial and insurance companies. And customers, that are disoriented, frightened and not prepared about financial issues, need it more than ever. The crisis effects caused by the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing measures have changed almost every aspect of our lives, in the short term – how we work, how we inform ourselves, how we buy and, of course, how we communicate.

The feeling is that today, very few bank and insurance managers have really understood that the old world is gone forever and will not return.

” A standardized communication built according to the needs of the business, not those of the customers.” So what? Sure, there is the ability to check the online balance, there are the “functional” communications, those in which the bank or insurance company informs us about security measures and initiatives taken as a result of Covid 19. Although at the end of the day the overall effect is that of a huge copy-and-paste without any pathos. Then there are the call centers, the reassuring phone calls from financial advisers and private bankers and, of course, the websites. And many newsletters – even too many – invitations to conference calls or webinars explaining what is happening on the financial markets, the economic scenarios and the possible impact on savings.

But this is not enough and does not mean having a real dialogue with clients.

Not customer-oriented communication yet

Most banks, insurance companies, or wealth managers do not have a customers’ dedicated blog where they can easily communicate with ordinary people. A blog or a repository of content that provides real financial education for people, helping them to understand and manage their everyday doubts and problems, and possibly also offering the opportunity to interact.

This is not communication, but at most a transmission of information.

Today, Financial institutions should transform the transmission of information into a customized communication experience. Communication if done well attracts the reader’s attention, the content must capture it, creating a desire to share and have it more.

Financial services are a business based on relationships and trust, representing a golden opportunity to build a real relationship with the customers who need it. So, to speak about “relationship” there are certain conditions to be met:

– “Two can play that game”. For there to be a relationship, there must be two people. An information and value exchange are needed. The customer lets himself be ‘known better’ in order to obtain a tailored service.

– The customer is at the centre and his life events are important. Remember this: your customers don’t give a damn about financial products. Savings are just a means to a good life.

– Emotions are important. The communication feelings left to the customer are often more important than the content quality to generate loyalty and engagement.

Today it is no longer time for broadcasting, even TV has become on demand, just think of Netflix and Amazon prime video success. We live in a personalized experiences era.

And according to Forrester authoritative words, a tailored experience is an experience that uses customer data to shape, guide and improve interaction based on personal history, contextual preferences and customer intentions.

Effective communication in 4 steps

1. Content is king

In 2020 and in an environment that precludes physical interaction with customers, many financial institutions do not have any kind of “digital container” for their customer’s content. Without content, there can be no communication. Content can be of various types: posts, infographics, quizzes, videos. The form does not matter, nor does the purpose, which can be informative, engagement or other. The content must be understandable for the client. The linguistic register must be adapted and differentiated according to the level of the audience’s financial knowledge. The form must be short, simple, graphic… not the usual “mappazzone” full of PDF graphics. Expert language only serves experts.

2. Understanding the audience and its needs: relevance

The engaging and quality communication imperative is that content must first be relevant to customers and therefore be able to create a connection with them. What does this mean? That the language is that of the customer’s needs, preferences and values. Commercial purposes can also be achieved, but gradually, and only by connecting the proposed solutions to the client’s needs, not by putting the product in the foreground. Nobody is interested in the new low volatility fund, so get this straight into your head.

3. Understanding the context: data analysis

Many institutions claim to know a lot about their clients, but they do not. The data on which these institutions claim to tailor their communications are simple batch extractions and not based on real-time, or even frequently updated, data. Life events change people’s needs and attitudes. Do you have any idea what effect it would have had on a “grasshopper” customer, inclined to spend everything, if before this crisis, based on his behaviors you had suggested to him to save a little to create a buffer for emergencies? Or if you could tailor-make suggestions for a young couple about having a baby, because you have seen pram purchases on their card?

4. A DEM is not enough: you need a consistent customer journey across all touchpoints

The new digital storytelling and the content customization require a continuous customer experience linked to different touchpoints. The focus cannot be limited to improving the digital campaign conversion rates. You need a continuous and integrated process at various bank/insurance touchpoints. Otherwise, you will never increase customer engagement and loyalty. You will just be one of many financial product providers chosen on convenience basis. Customers are actually willing to pay for the service, and for feeling “special”.


The Virtual B solution

The Virtual B team has a strong experience on these issues, providing content and infrastructure to several financial realities that, even before this crisis, had understood that grounding an intelligent (data driven) and customer centric communication process is important. We have built a working scheme where our storytelling perimeter is made up of data analysis and our managed communication process for our clients is structured in 3 phases: content strategy, engagement strategy and digital strategy, that are consequential but closely integrated to achieve a satisfactory result.

And if you would like to discuss this with us, we are at your disposal.

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