We frequently talk to our financial services clients about time to value. The concept of time to value is fairly simple. What is the elapsed time between when a customer makes a decision to purchase/apply/engage with your brand and when the customer receives value from your brand? If you want to keep the competition behind you, figure out your brand’s time to value and focus on how you can make it shorter.
Take Netflix as an example. Let’s say you want to watch a movie and don’t have an account. To open an account, you just need to provide an email address and credit card info. That’s it. Assuming you’re prepared with your credit card (or have your browser set to auto-populate) the time it takes from deciding to open an account to watching a movie is under a minute. That is awesome time to value for both the consumer and the business. The customer got what they wanted in under a minute and the brand gained a subscriber with nearly zero friction.
Compare that to the Blockbuster days and you can understand why streaming services killed the in-store video model. Is the video you watch on Netflix materialistically better than what you could get at Blockbuster (changes in video resolutions over time excluded)? I’d argue it isn’t. On the DVD experience, I get cover art, bloopers, interviews with the cast, alternate endings, etc. What Netflix did was deliver a time to value light years ahead of the in-store experience. And for that, consumers gladly sacrifice all the extended features of the DVD, and agree to a recurring bill, regardless of whether they watch more content or not.
How does this apply to financial services? There’s endless handwringing about the impact of fintechs on larger established financial brands, for good reason. And it’s critical to realize that many of the fintechs out there focus on improving the time to value first, and product second.
Look at what Apple did in the credit card space. While they changed many things about the credit card experience, time to value was one of the biggest. Get a decision on your phone in seconds and use your card in your Apple wallet immediately. Literally. Start the application while you’re in line at the food truck and use your new Apple card to pay for your order. Great time to value and the ability to make the transaction isn’t inherently different. (And since we know that being top of wallet is what matters to drive card usage, Apple just made it a lot easier to keep its card there.)
Consumers, especially those who correctly know they’ll qualify for a product, increasingly think of the “apply” button as the start of onboarding. They’ve already decided they’re ready for whatever it is they need the financial product for – your brand’s time to value is the only thing standing in their way. They’ve been taught by Netflix, Apple, and others that it’s reasonable to expect an immediate approval, and the ability to use your product immediately. Of course, time to value still matters for those with credit risks and the underbanked, but that’s a different post and likely a different product funnel anyway.
If you’re doing more worrying about competitive offerings than improving time to value in your acquisition funnel, then quite simply, you are doing it wrong. And a good creative agency with deep roots in financial services can build your brand a dramatically better experience. Shiny can help.
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