Fall. Possibly my favorite season. When I think of fall, I think of cooler weather, an extra hour of sleep (well, in theory), festivities, a warm bowl of something for dinner (that’s been simmering in a pot all day) or a piping hot cup of tea.
For others, fall has become more synonymous to pumpkin flavored… well, anything. Can you imagine fall without the infamous Pumpkin Spice Latte? It seems as though everyone is jumping on the pumpkin flavored bandwagon… pumpkin spiced M&Ms, Special K cereal, butter, yogurt, goat cheese, dog treats… If you don’t believe me, see 91 Fall-Flavored Things You Need to Ge Your Hands On.
I heard some groans out there – for the pumpkin haters see 20 Ways the Pumpkin Spice Obsession Has Gone Too Far.
Before I get too far off topic, I’d like to steer back to the real reason for this blog which is how some financial institutions have adopted their business practices, and how they need to “fall out of step” with said business practices.
Many institution have a tendency to get pulled into what everyone else is doing, or industry standards that were set in place decades ago, and forget to focus on what is actually happening with account holders right now. Take for instance the whole in-person branch experience. Are branches really essential or useful in the financial industry space? Cornerstone’s article, “ Life After Branches: What's Your Value?”, challenges why branches are necessary in today's industry. In a nutshell, are banks and credit unions really gaining any business value from keeping their branches open to their account holder base? If not, Cornerstone maintains that banks and credit unions should rid themselves of the old methods of processing typical daily transactions, because they are outdated to the current demographic.
Temenos has also done research on the future of branches. (Check out our white paper “The Rise of the Digital Bank”!) We’ve seen in the industry that branches, as they function today, will not long be able to meet the needs of either financial institutions or their account holders. But it’s not necessarily that brick and mortar is no longer relevant. Rather, banks and credit unions must transform their business, and that means both in their technology and in the way they approach branches. Now when an account holder walks into a branch, it’s most likely not because they are looking to deposit a check, but rather because they need to speak with a representative on a particular issue, such as financial advice.
But back to the digital aspect of how you can “fall out of step” with the way that you approach account holder relationships. Rihannon Stone wrote a fantastic article, “Building Stronger Member Relationships, Digitally”, where she stated that, "Digital Platforms [and emerging technology solutions] are meant to be bridges, not barriers". She goes on to say that it’s increasingly important to direct our efforts towards forging and strengthening personal relationships with your financial institution’s account holders digitally.
So what does that mean? Stone defines it as anything that empowers your account holders to gain more information, insight and inspiration, which in turn helps you to gain a deeper connection with them, additionally helping to improve your bottom-line.
Think of your digital channels as educational tools. Consider offering:
- Helpful tips and tricks
- Educational resources (including post or follow up)
- Interaction through your social media accounts
- Hosting informational seminars
I found it interesting that Stone noted that user interface design also plays a critical role on whatever platform you are using to communicate with your account holders. Communication with the individual account holder should be two-way and interactive. Some effective methods include sending surveys, offering and participating in online forums, and welcoming feedback and comments directly on your social-media posts. These are all great opportunities to keep your account holders involved and forge stronger relationships.
When thinking about fall, it also comes with some trepidation because winter is around the corner, and with it a long period of waiting for sunny and warmer days in the calendar year, which can seem daunting. Instead of looking at your business strategy goals as a bleak and long road ahead of you, sip on that Pumpkin Spice Latte (or hot apple cider, if you’re opposed to pumpkin everything), and “fall out of step” with the way you, and others in the industry, have always approached account holder relationships. There are warm and sunny days, and great digital and in-branch relationships with account holders, ahead.