Financial Services Require an Artist’s Touch
How to seamlessly blend human and digital interactions.
The color wheel brings together many hues. Some complement, others clash, and all communicate different emotions. Gray areas, green energy, and rose-tinted glasses, for example, are all expressions that use the language of color to denote meaning and mood — ambiguous situations, restorative environmental policies, an optimistic approach.
Blue is the brand color of many financial organizations, from Merrill Lynch and Visa to Goldman Sachs and Barclays. Trust and credibility are their lifeblood, and blue is a calming choice. According to Pantone, natural associations to clear skies and clean water make shades like Classic Blue — an appropriate choice for the 2020 Color of the Year — evoke stability.
Financial services organizations catering to business customers must communicate in calm tones, particularly under volatile circumstances. Currently, they’re navigating increased queries, client stress, and internal instability. Companies want reassurance now more than ever, whether they’re looking for investment services, searching for the right insurance policy, or trying to access capital.
Each customer interaction has a unique shade, and B2B financial services brands need to reach their clients in complementary ways — at the right time, with helpful information, and in the most suitable medium. This is especially true considering the shift toward B2E (business-to-employee) models that require businesses to communicate their value in more dynamic, exciting ways. Prioritizing this now will help these organizations and their customers weather future crises.
The two moods of human and digital
Digital services put all financial services customers on the same frequency. Online banking and trading platforms, for instance, provide crucial services transnationally. Business customers can apply for credit, make investments, get market updates, and file claims away from branches and offices.
Still, human interaction is far from obsolete. Harvard Business School found a chain reaction with market downturns — they cause investors high anxiety, which in turn leads them to feel dissatisfied with decisions they make using self-service technology.
To address these clients, financial services brands must find a balance between providing digital avenues for them to explore on their own and stepping in to offer personalized guidance. This is an especially important consideration to make with hard-hit companies. Those in industries facing turbulence are particularly vulnerable, and they could benefit from a steady voice.
Much like a green light, personal interaction gives clients and prospects a “go ahead, we’ve got this” assurance in times of strain. Global trauma only reinforces our existing need to connect.
The right mix of shades
The trick is understanding when human interaction best suits customers. Customers use digital effectively for research and discovery, but when they have complex financial needs, human interaction is at its most meaningful.
Emerging technologies can help financial professionals rather than replace them. Insurance brokers, for instance, can offer personalized recommendations after artificial intelligence uses corporate account data to determine policy eligibility.
Human and digital interactions both play a vital role in a company’s demand generation strategy. Depending on the execution, they can clash or bring out the best in each other. Triage customers, services, and situations — and determine how to seamlessly shift between human and digital.
Data is the warmest hue
Warm hues are thought to spark passion and empathy, both indispensable parts of building trust. Financial services players can similarly project warmth by proving they understand what clients and prospects need.
Data management and analytics solutions can help with segmentation. Asset management firms, for example, can use predictive analytics to target institutions, intermediaries, and advisers with personalized investment advice. Commercial banks can extend repayment leniencies, provide low credit risk loans, and offer discounts and fee waivers to businesses whose profiles and financial behaviors suggest vulnerability.
Data reveals our true colors, including how we prefer to interact, so drivers of demand marketing should collect information from multiple channels to get perspectives across the demographic spectrum. For example, think of how many times you’ve heard that start-ups gravitate to digital and legacy enterprises to analog — those assumptions don’t lend themselves to adequate personalization, especially in times of crisis.
Web and app statistics, user journey drop-offs, and phone and email surveys are all revealing wells of preference. And financial services brands can use them to create journeys that speak to every customer’s communication and service preferences. B2B demand generation marketing is a continuous exercise, and organizations should invest in real-time analytics to adapt these journeys in the wake of disruptive events.
Changing the tone of crisis
There’s no room for black and white on the color wheel, nor is the ideal blend of human and digital interaction absolute — especially not during crises. As the demands intensify, and the priorities of B2B customers shift, fresh insights and market analyses are no longer enough to demonstrate value.
Demand marketers in financial services must constantly identify evolving audience preferences, pinpoint areas for improvement in communication and service, and address precise situational needs — data management, analytics, automation, and lead scoring are all essential to this. Financial organizations must pivot to new demands while planning for the future.
Financial services and insurance institutions need to scale their human and digital interactions to accomplish this, with some core guiding principles: understand the business, respond rapidly to it, and keep creating and measuring journeys. Make well-informed changes to technology and service structure, and you’ll be ready to face the future.
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