Tuesday, May 19, 2020

How Can Banks Meet the Challenges Created by COVID-19?

The current pandemic has caused seismic shifts in the behavior of people, especially when it comes to how / when /where they do business with banks. It begs several questions: “What will the new normal look like?” and what can banks do in response from a marketing and customer service perspective.

According  a recent study conducted by Qudini of 2,000+ US consumers – 87% of respondents indicated that outside of the COVID-19 outbreak they would normally visit a bank branch.

But now over half of branch customers avoid their bank branch, and another 39% have reduced their branch visits. The research went on to reveal that nearly two thirds of banking customers now want virtual banking services – by either phone (55%) or video (15%).

J.D. Power’s 2020 US Retail Banking Satisfaction Study identified the following trends:

·     Approximately one-third of retail banking customers plan to increase their use of online and mobile banking services post COVID-19 (This percentage is expected to increase as the duration of the crisis extends longer).

·     Key digital banking functions that will be impacted the most include mobile check deposit and P2P payments.

Large financial institutions have a greater penetration of high-engagement digital customers than regional or mid-sized banks.

·     Midsize banks have a significantly lower online and mobile banking satisfaction index than larger banks.

No alt text provided for this imageThe COVID-19 pandemic could well be a catalyst for a new omni-channel banking future, if banks are able to respond by evolving their customer service model. This can include online events / thought leadership to help engage and support customers. 
A good example of this was a recent webinar and  blog post by First Republic Bank on helping customers avoid COVID-19 Scams.

Financial institutions will also need to get more creative in term of the ways they serve their customers remotely. For example, banks should make it easier to for a branch manager or customer service representative to access specialists – like a residential lending officer – via video conference call. This way the bank can give their customers personalized “high-touch” service via a remote digital channel.

Banks can also employ Artificial Intelligence (AI) in their customer service platforms to better meet the needs of customers and “reduce friction” in the process. Common customer question like “What is my balance?” and “How do I re-set my debit card password?” can be quickly and efficiently provided by encouraging customer to use a chat functions vs. having a customer service rep answer the phone.

This is also the right time for data and analytics to take center stage in bank marketing. Predictive Analytics can use data, statistical algorithms and AI (artificial intelligence) to help predict a customer’s “next need” in terms of banking products /services. Behavioral data combined with clearly architected customer journeys can identify engagement points for cross-sell / up-sell efforts. According to a study by the Aberdeen Group – predictive analytic users are twice as likely to identify high-value customers and market the right offer.

This approach is in stark contrast to the “one size fits all” marketing approach that many banks have been taking during the pandemic. For example Citibank recently sent out a blast email to their small business customers encouraging them to take advantage of “a robust set of digital solutions that help you get what need more quickly” with a somewhat simplistic call-to-action that encouraged them to sign up for online banking if they were not already using it.

Customized digital messages, informed by data, tracked by a CRM platform (e.g. Salesforce)  – can create more relevant and timely marketing communications for customers. This will help evolve the bank’s relationship with customers from being purely transactional to building a mutually beneficial, long-term relationship.

In turn customer satisfaction and loyalty will increase, resulting in positive word-of-mouth, favorable online reviews and new customer referrals to the bank from existing customers. 
All of which will help drive long-term profitable growth – a silver lining indeed for banks coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Top 7 Tips to Nail Your Elevator Pitch

In an era of increasingly short attention spans by most people it is important for entrepreneurs to refine their “elevator pitch” or 2-minute speech on their start-up. At the first event in the Empress.world Fall 2017 Business Innovation Series, held in NYC on 9/12/17, a panel of venture capitalist offered tips on how to do this.

The panel included Byron Ling from Primary Venture Partners, Meghan Cross from Red Bear Angels, Sally Jin from Seed Invest and Todd Breeden from Kiwi Venture Partners.  They offered the following advice to a group of founders who pitched that night:

1.     Explain right upfront what you do / how you do it / show it (if you can) / explain why it is a good business opportunity.
2.     Focus on numbers and key business milestones as well as notable accomplishments – like SKUs and Revenue Targets.
3.     Don’t define yourself by your competition, but do have a good sense of your competitive space.
4.     As the founder - emphasize your relevant business experience.
5.     Know the size of your addressable / primary target market(s).
6.     Be careful not to say: “there’s nothing like this” – instead focus on what makes your business model unique.
7.     Have a checklist of key points you want to make, and then cover all of them.

A special thanks to the founders who pitched at the event, including Helena Fogarty from MI OLA swimwear – sexy bathing suits that stay on.

Victoria Flores from Lux Beauty Club – luxury hair extensions at affordable prices.

Jean Poh from Swoonery – a luxury marketplace for designer fine jewelry.

Kash Vyas from Perftily – a 3D visualization solution that revolutionizes how people shop for clothing online.

Om Kundu from InSpireAVE – a social e-commerce platform that inspires people to multiply their savings and afford big purchase.