How banks can use unconventional efforts to create conventional results
Last time I promised you an update on Blockchain 3.0. Stay tuned – it’s coming. Today, though, I want to challenge those of you in financial services to turn yourself upside down and look at the world through a different lens.
Most bankers would never think of themselves as being in the merchant retail business. With different markets, different products and different goals, that stands to reason. But with similar issues now facing each group, it can serve financial institutions to take a page from retailers’ playbooks in order to attract customers, drive business and cut costs.
We’re all in this together
Just like the average merchant, retail financial institutions are in need of increased foot traffic from customers, and they must compete with online options that can deliver services more directly to customers at a lower cost.
The solution to these challenges lies with the customer. A customer-centric business model gives merchants as well as financial institutions the ability to demonstrate their value to customers and highlight their differences from their new online competitors.
Many retailers already have found success in customer focus. Stores have expanded hours and redesigned their floor space to maximize returns; “super” stores have combined groceries with general merchant goods; retailers sell gift cards to other stores and restaurants; some stores have opened banks within their walls; and some major retailers even have dipped their toes into offering financial services. The goal of all these efforts is to provide consumers greater access to all of their needs so they stay in one place longer, spend more money while they are there and deepen their relationships with a particular retailer.
Why can’t financial institutions follow the same steps to success?
Customer-focused efforts already have paid off for many financial institutions. TD Canada, for instance, recently transformed ATMs inside four branch locations into “Automated Thanking Machines,” machines that dispensed gifts as thanks to customers. The videos, which you may have seen on TV or online, recorded the reactions of customers who were delighted by the recognition.
This type of outside-the-box thinking is great. But there are simpler, more direct ways financial institutions can follow the lead of retailers to connect with customers.
Seven simple steps
Financial institutions that want to connect with customers the way many retailers have, are encouraged to try the following seven steps.
- Consider some non-financial services
- Use a retail consultant
- Host a grand re-opening
- Adjust hours
- Establish a game for customers
- Host events or activities for customers
- Host seminars or workshops
Meeting customer needs has always been essential to financial services. In today’s market, however, needs of customers have become more important than ever. Customers want what they want, where they want it, when they want it, how they want it. And anyone who can’t deliver that will lose that business to a competitor who can.
Retail merchants already have made strides to address these issues. It only makes sense that financial institutions follow their lead and make changes themselves. What’s your next move?