Financial Marketers: Here’s What Consumers Want From the Lending Experience.
Financial-services companies — such as banks, mortgage brokers, and credit unions — are working hard to provide consumers with better digital and mobile banking experiences. Bank of America alone spent half a billion dollars on mobile banking between 2011 and 2014 and says it will continue to invest in mobile at this rate for years to come.
While a mobile-centric approach makes sense for day-to-day banking needs (like checking your balance, transferring money, or paying bills), the more valuable and complex transactions (such as taking out a loan) typically involve at least one conversation with a real human. And it’s critical that banks get this experience right, since lending is one of the principal ways in which they make money.
Four Key Insights Into Consumer-Lending Behaviors
Consequently, one of the major challenges that financial marketers face is connecting what happens online with what happens offline to ensure a seamless and consistent customer experience. To help financial marketers better understand consumer-lending behaviors, and subsequently make better-informed marketing decisions, Invoca surveyed 1,285 US consumers who had recently taken out loans of $15k or more. Let’s take a look at the key findings.
1. Offline Actions Dominate Loan Research.
Banks need to think beyond digital, as offline interactions have major impacts on consumer decisions and trust — especially when it comes to taking out loans for big-ticket items like cars, homes, or higher education. In fact, 84 percent of survey respondents made at least one phone call during the loan-research phase, while the majority of respondents listed ‘visiting a branch’ or ‘making a phone call’ as primary drivers when evaluating financial institutions for a loan.
2. Big Spenders Want to Talk.
Think about buying a pair of socks on Amazon. Now, think about putting your life savings into buying your first home. These are opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to monetary spend, and the level of emotional investment involved in each purchase is vastly different. It should come as no surprise that 93 percent of people who took out loans of $100k or more made at least one call to the financial institution they ultimately chose for their loan. Further, a majority of these conversations typically lasted for at least five minutes, indicating a quality discussion or purchase.
3. The Customer Experience Matters.
Nowadays, consumers expect personalized experiences across channels. For example, if you click on a paid search ad for a loan product and place a call, the agent on the line should know which marketing channel prompted you to call and what type of financial product you are researching. Eighty-four percent of respondents said that immediately being routed to the right representative had a positive impact on their decision to take out a loan from that financial institution.
This not only creates better customer experiences overall, but also — with a call-intelligence solution like Invoca — enables banks to follow up with emails or display ads that are personalized based on what was discussed during the calls.
4. Voice Conversations > Chatbots.
It’s difficult to go very long without reading an article about chatbots and how they’re revolutionizing the customer experience. For certain transactional use cases, it’s certainly a gamechanger; but, when it comes to issues that are more complicated (such as clarifying a bank statement or evaluating a loan), people want to have a conversation. Just look at the numbers: 81 percent of respondents are comfortable talking over the phone about loan options, while just 43 percent would be comfortable talking to a chatbot about loan options.
So, What Should Marketers Be Doing?
1. Get a Clear Picture of Your Customer.
Make sure you have the marketing technology in place to gather data about your customer. For online interactions, this might include website behavior, shopping cart status, engagement on social media, and email preferences. Offline behaviors (such as phone calls) can reveal things like buying stage, product interest, competitor awareness, and probability of purchasing. All of this — combined with demographic data — paints a clear picture of the customer, and marketers should use this information to refine their strategies and tailor their messages.
2. Prioritize Personalization.
Consumers today demand that brands — especially financial institutions — treat them as individuals. If you’ve done your online research and even provided your personal information to request a quote, it’s incredibly frustrating to receive a marketing email that’s not personalized or to repeat information over the phone that you’ve already provided online. If personalizing the entire customer journey feels overwhelming, don’t be afraid to start small — begin segmenting your email lists or using a tool like Adobe Target to create a more personalized website experience.
3. Create a Seamless Customer Journey.
Once you are comfortable with doing some personalization, begin tying the customer experience together across channels and devices. For example, if someone begins the loan-purchase process online but finishes it over the phone, he shouldn’t receive display ads reminding him to purchase the loan. Marketers should be suppressing those ads with their ad-serving platforms. Showing that you really know your customer can have a significant impact on sales, which is why customer experience isn’t just a marketing priority — it’s a business priority. In fact, Accenture found that “improving customer experience” tops the list of business priorities that companies have over the next 12 months.