How to elevate your customer's banking experience

Wondering how to add value to take your brand from a seeming utility to a helpful, meaningful and inspirational service? D&P Strategy Director, Paul West, reveals how.

By Paul West
Posted 23. 04. 2020
Nationwide hero image

As the current pandemic accelerates a change in behaviours and raises considerable challenges for plenty of brands, it also offers opportunities for innovation and growth.

According to Gartner, 80% of financial institutions will need to adapt their current form in order to remain relevant in 2030.

It’s safe to say, you’re probably familiar with statements like this. Also, you’ll be familiar with articles and transformation programmes on how to ‘elevate the customer experience’ through digital platforms, services and rethinking the roles of branches.

Everyone shares the same views and ambitions that the path to customer acquisition, satisfaction and retention has to evolve. Yes, we need to create innovative customer experiences, be customer-centric, be digital-first, build new digital tools, redefine the role of the branches, close branches that are no longer working, develop emotionally driven campaigns, define a compelling new challenger brand… the list goes on.

It’s hard to disagree that this all needs to happen. However, the biggest challenge for these individual strategies and programmes is their very nature of being individual – often driven by individual experts, teams and business divisions. These strategies and programmes need to be integrated as one coherent experience (or at least built with a connection to the wider brand experience) if they are to be meaningful, inspiring and helpful for the new consumer – and ultimately achieve the desired impact.

In our experience, working with innovative businesses from all walks of life, the answer is to think of any transformation programme as a total brand experience – from the vision and purpose of the brand, to how it inspires, serves and sells across channels. This holistic transformation always shines through regardless of sector because your customer (or future customer) can experience your brand in multiple touchpoints in seconds, and is savvy enough to stay put, or go elsewhere.

6 Ps pie

At D&P, the total brand experience is everything that you do to connect with your audience. Time after time, we have tested our model – the 6Ps of creating an Engaging Brand – with our own partnerships and projects. The results are clear, the most Engaging Brands in the world are coherent and creative in all 6 pillars:

  • Purpose - the ‘why’ behind everything
  • Personality - brand image and narrative
  • People - everyone who works for, or with, the brand
  • Place - the places and spaces where your brand exists
  • Process - the step-by-step journey, platforms and tools of engaging with your brand
  • Product - what your brand sells or provides to generate revenue

Brands that develop strategies and programmes that consider (and ultimately deliver on) all six areas are the brands that people find meaningful, inspiring and helpful. We call them Engaging Brands. They’re the brands that thrive in the new economy.

Using our unique 6P’s approach, we’ve helped brands across a range of industries - including those that are financially regulated - reinvent their brand experience and disrupt their sectors. Rockar, Knight Frank and Nationwide were all brands battling to engage with their customers in sectors plagued with inherent distrust. We enabled each of them to stand out with our six-pillar approach.

Nationwide community

Purpose: Be clear on why you’re here

Build a visionary brand experience with a meaningful purpose. With traditional advertising losing its effectiveness, consumers are becoming less interested in ‘what you sell’ and more about why you’re selling it. They’re looking at what brands stand for, seeking those that share their values.

It’s essential to understand the evolving role you play in people’s lives and the impact you can have - here lies the opportunity to be fundamentally different from your competitors. It’s no surprise that digital disruptors such as Monzo are releasing manifestos instead of taglines and displaying a higher level of transparency.

Do your customers know who you are and why you exist? It might be time to issue your rallying cry.

Personality: Be more than just a different colour

Stand out with a distinctive personality and engaging narrative - there has to be more to differentiate you than just a colour palette, logo or tagline. Your personality should be present in everything you do - the way your brand looks, the way it talks to customers and the way it behaves.

ANNA’s novel approach to small business needs gives the brand a playful edge and shows their human side. Their sense of humour surrounding the serious topic of money distinguishes them from their competitors.

Are you communicating real customer benefits in an engaging way? Prove yourself to be memorable in a world where consumers wouldn’t care if 74% of the brands they use vanished.

People: Be brand ambassadors

As technology becomes more pervasive, 75% of customers say they want more human interaction, not less. Rethink the role of your people - they are a huge part of your brand experience and should be your strongest advocates.

You should empower your staff to embody your purpose and values and enable them to engaged with customers in the most effective and helpful manner, all with a distinctly human touch. The Financial Gym has redefined their store employees as BFFs (Best Financial Friends) who not only work one-on-one with customers to help them set goals, but also offer support along the way to make sure they achieve them, offering a more human connection.

Employees should be your best brand ambassadors, not ‘scripted’ customer service or commission-based teams. Consider the way this might affect your customers’ trust in you.

Place: Be where your customers need you

We live in an age of convenience where transactions and services must be instant and intuitive. But your physical places can still offer tangible spaces where people can be completely immersed in a brand’s world.

You could say that historically, bank branches were designed to keep money in, and people out. But with modern consumer needs, that’s now completely changed. Banks need to open up their spaces and bring customers further in to allow them to form a deeper connection with the brand.

What is the purpose of your space, how does it help and support your customers and employees? Do you know where your customers need you to be? Prepare to be flexible on your location and proposition if you want to reach the right audience with the right offer.

Financial gym
© financial gym

Process: Be pre-emptive and surprising

Design a process that puts the customer in control. A brand with a process that’s too lengthy or confusing will just send customers to competitors that are more convenient and transparent.

It’s not just what you do, it’s how you do it. IdeaBank’s innovative BMW cars with built-in deposit points give their business customers the secure option of having their bank come to them - a clever move in the on-demand economy.

Do your customers value a convenient experience, or a magical one? Allow them to engage with you the way they want, with fast and slow service options that anticipate their needs.

Product: Be a good listener

Define how you inspire, sell or serve in ways that resonate with new and existing customers. People aren’t going to spend time or money with a brand that delivers mediocre experiences - you need to make sure what you give customers is relevant and helpful.

Building a business model around customer needs has helped Metro Bank to shape their innovative product line. The brand has monopolised on a security service that their competitors weren’t willing to offer with the introduction of safety deposit boxes, enabling their customers to access their valuables seven days a week.

How well are you listening and responding to your customers’ needs? Being creative, inventive and disruptive with your offering can lead to considerable commercial gain.

Atm car
© idea bank

Each one of these pillars is important, but considering them in isolation won’t build an engaging and successful brand for the long term; it needs a holistic approach. Our 6Ps framework is a simple way to align internal teams within your wider business and not only reshape, but reinvent your entire brand experience.

By uniting experts from all walks of life - digital, property, brand, marketing - we are able to define a holistic vision that differentiates, gives you something to say and connects you with your customer wherever they are.

Get in touch if you’d like to know more about how our framework and approach has helped other clients across the world and how it can help you.

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