The Financial Services sector has been massively hit by COVID-19 just like other industry sectors. As the world gradually moves away from the lockdown, the customer scenario has changed immeasurably. Customers are no longer visiting offline branches to conduct their transactions. They are scared to venture outside their homes and it will take a lot of time for them to regain confidence for in-person branch visits. As a result, financial institutions are forced to focus their customer targeting efforts on channels that are readily available viz digital channels.
For banking and insurance companies, the person-to-person connect that worked well in offline branches needs to be maintained online. This is a huge challenge for marketers. There needs to a total shift in company tactics that can somehow retain that human connection with customers. The financial sector is poised to undergo a drastic change in the near future and marketers should be ready for it.
Let’s look at three major changes that can happen for Financial Services post-COVID:
1. The Website will be the “Main Branch”
Well, believe it or not, the need to have physical branches for Financial Services companies is going to be redundant. The focus instead is going to completely shift towards digital. The company website will be the “main branch” and all offline branches will act as secondary branches for the time being. But eventually, it is expected that the number of offline branches will be reduced considerably.
A financial institution’s website will be the primary go-to branch for customers where they can seek all kinds of information. The website will address all their needs and concerns just like any offline branch. If person-to-person interaction is needed, virtual consultation with the branch staff can be arranged.
2. A Significant Increase in Digital Investments
We knew this was coming. The future was always going to be fully digital and the company or organization that achieves it first will have the first-mover advantage. The post-COVID world will rely on digital businesses that make optimum use of technology to increase customer engagement and conversions. Therefore, it’s expected that the number of investments in various martech platforms will go through the roof.
Technologies like Customer Data Platforms (CDP), Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence are going to play a very important role in sustaining businesses in the long run. Hence, financial marketers must seriously evaluate each martech vendor and choose one that can help them adequately meet their business objectives.
3. Personalization will become a Pre-Requisite
In the pre-COVID era, financial marketers realized the importance of 1:1 personalization and were starting to implement it in their businesses. The post-COVID era will have an increased indulgence in martech tools that deliver personalization. A recent Accenture study revealed that the average consumer will not forget how a service provider treats them in the next 6 to 12 months. Customers are now aware of personalization and are demanding it from their service providers. It’s just a matter of time for them to start expecting it as a pre-requisite with any organization.
For new customers, the level of personalization will be the fundamental criterion for choosing a martech vendor. Existing customers would want their providers to continuously improve their personalized engagements. In both cases, if expectations aren’t met, the users will immediately move on to the next service provider who can meet them. Financial marketers should, therefore, use an innovative martech tool such as a CDP that can assist in data-driven decision making.
The post-COVID era is going to be vastly different from the one that we have now. Digital channels are going to be the new norm where financial businesses primarily operate. Financial marketers need to be quick in adopting the right martech platform that can help them in boosting customer acquisition and retention. It’s time to change this crisis into an opportunity!
As Socrates once said, “The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
By Bijoy K.B | Senior Associate Marketing at Lemnisk