Meeting customers where they are: Channel of choice matters. - Shinyverse

Meeting customers where they are: Channel of choice matters.

April is Financial Literacy Month. As experts in marketing financial services, we’re big believers in financial services brands having an obligation to help its customers first and foremost. And ultimately, that help should yield financial literacy in some small or large way. But like all service-oriented brands, there is no one-size fits all when it comes to financial literacy – what’s most important is meeting your prospects and customers where they are and providing the specific help they need. 

For Financial Literacy Month this year, we’re sharing a series of articles with some thought starters for you to consider for how you can help both prospects and customers where they are on their financial journey. Ultimately, we think the brands that are most successful with delivering help will set both themselves and their customers up for success.

We were recently doing a research project into chatbots for one of our clients and we were amazed at just how consistently awful chatbot experiences are. And while our focus was financial services, we looked outside the industry as well and it seemed that awful chatbot experiences transcend industry. 

One of the things that jumped out at us the most was how frequently brands’ chatbots would boot us out of chat and onto a catch-all page to figure things out for ourselves. Most chatbots we encountered were ready to boot us out of the chatbot with a link in the first or second question. This is counterintuitive and goes against a key best practice in user experience – keep people in their channel of choice for as long as possible. 

Worse than just taking people out of their channel of choice, it  happens seemingly with no regard for why the customer went to a chatbot to begin with – they likely need a deeper level of help than what they could find on your site. So dumping them back into an existing page on your site probably doesn’t solve their problem. In other words, customer expectations are that you meet them where they are in their journey. And experiences like chatbots open up a great opportunity to both educate and be helpful to your customers, but most brands squander that with an ill-equipped digital experience that is built only to be helpful with select topics. 

And no matter how advanced your digital experiences may be, financial brands must never forget that – to most folks – money is complicated. And they need help. In the near constant one-upmanship that can surround best-in-class digital experiences, brands would do well to remember that there is a big difference between self-servicing and self-help. 

Going into an experience that is inherently personalized (i.e. answering my specific question in a chat interface), means my expectations for getting help with exactly what I need are high. So when it fails, it feels like a very big failure. This reminds us of a quote from an article in The Financial Brand we frequently reference because it’s a great north star to reach for in all digital channels:

Digital banking has come a long way, but in a sense it remains a mass product, somewhat like off-the-rack clothing in a time when customers are coming to expect greater tailoring…the industry must work towards a sense of digital channels being used as if there is only one human interacting with the glass.

For that to happen…institutions must deliver “smart interactions,” digital delivery that is personalized to the customer. To succeed, these interactions will have to approach the level of personalization that banking customers had back when nearly all banking was conducted face-to-face. Until institutions can do this, the glass will continue to be both a connection and a barrier.

Of course, supporting customers in their channel of choice goes well beyond chatbots. If a customer takes the time to call your bank and go through a phone tree, the last thing they want is to be directed to the website for help any more than the customer handling a routine task in digital servicing channels wants to make a phone call.

Need some help delivering against customer expectations? We use a ruthlessly customer-centric approach to build ruthlessly helpful experiences that meet your customers wherever they are in their journey. 

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