Over the past 10 years, digital technology has radically altered the way people interact with their financial institutions. Not long ago, online banking was something of an added convenience — a nice feature to go with your traditional banking experience.
Today, it’s an absolute necessity.
Still, banks have been slow to “get with the times”, leaving the industry as a whole vulnerable to widespread disruption.
Add that to the fact that 1 in 4 Americans have lost all trust in their local banking institutions, and you have a recipe for widespread panic.
Millenials, in particular, are increasingly ditching traditional banking products for unbundled solutions targeted for their specific needs ata fraction of the cost.
Your typical 30-year-old is not likely to ever set foot in his local branch. He’d much rather fire up Credit Karma to check his credit score, use PayPal to send cash to a friend and head over to Rocket Mortgage to apply for a home loan.
What’s a poor bank to do?
Holistic Customer Care in the Age of Online Community
There was once a time when the community bank served as a one-stop shop for all things financial. We’ll never get back to the "good ol’ days” of personal bankers and local lending, but there’s hope to be found by way of one key word: community.
Unfortunately, legitimate concerns over privacy, security and compliance have kept the vast majority of financial institutions from making a full-throated attempt to create digital community.
Firms like Morningstar have managed to cut a path through the red tape to engage existing and potential customers on a deeper level – more than any direct marketing or mass media campaign ever could before.
Using forum-based solutions, Morningstar has built a substantial online community that directly feeds into their premium analysis products. To survive continuing disruption, more and more banks will need to do the same, taking what was once a very personal analog relationship and turning it into a thriving digital connection.
Here are three ways in which online community can help banks do just that:
1. Social Channel Diversification
The ubiquity of smartphones and social media has conditioned customers to expect instant access to the organization with whom they do business. Moreover, they want businesses to communicate with them wherever and whenever they see fit.
This means that if your customer is on Facebook and a question pops into their mind about CD interest rates, he’ll expect to be able to contact you on Facebook and receive a response right away.
Banks can take that as either an obligation or an opportunity. Yes, it may require additional staff to monitor social channels, but the digital relationship-building opportunities it presents will far outweigh the investment.
2. Relevant Content Marketing
Most executives in the banking industry have no idea what content marketing really is. If you asked them, they might say something about their latest direct mail campaign around a new credit card offering.
Unfortunately, that’s just not going to cut it in the digital age. Developing content means focusing less on selling customers and more on educating them. Having an online community will help you, both to discern what people really need and to get your content out there after you publish it.
Again, this can be seen as either an obligation or an opportunity. If a bank takes the latter route and intentionally creates relevant content designed to help their customers succeed in the realm of personal finance, then their tribe will only grow.
3. Deepened Trust and Loyalty
When a bank begins to engage customers on a number of social channels with useful content, not only will its online community grow in numbers, but it’ll deepen in trust.
Trust is critical in edging out the neverending array of unbundled competitors in today's marketplace. When customers develop a strong relationship with their bank, they’re less likely to dive into that latest app.
Instead, they’ll check with their bank first.
This all may sound a bit squishy for some, but focusing on community is the way the world used to work before banking went digital. It’s also the way that it can continue to work for your bank if you decide to leverage the new tools of digital media to accomplish the old — yet still relevant — goals of community banking.