Last week we talked about customer expectations and buying trends, so what have businesses and brands done to adapt to maintain presence and retain a customer base?
The financial sectors have been the centre of many news stories and as a result, lost a lot of consumer trust. Customers are being told they have had services mis-sold; new businesses cropping up to encourage people to fight banks, insurers and financial advisors for money back which they are owed. Customer have become extremely cautious and all industries have had to adapt to ensure they are transparent, understand their customers exact needs and provide solutions which the customer has a genuine need.
At one point we were being offered insurance for our cars, homes and pets at the supermarket checkout, we were being incentivised to take out store cards which gave an opportunity to up sell PPI giving customers piece of mind that they have no worries if they ever find themselves in a situation where they are unable to pay all the credit agreements they were signing. Businesses and their team members were benefitting from commission and financial providers enjoying a whole new income stream.
Need for change
The financial industry are now paying back these benefits, customers are educated and they are taking control of their own finances, asking better questions and rightly expecting clear information to help them decide who to invest their hard earned cash with. We now have financial advisors finding fame by sharing hints and tips. It’s been a tough time and financial service providers are adapting to reach customers and give them confidence in the services we provide.
One of the ways businesses are doing this is through branding, ensuring the brand is on the consumer side and helpful for the policy holder. One insurer boldly recruiting the fixer Winston Wolf who threatens to take care of your problems, however for the fainter hearted we have our old favourites such as the agreeable nodding dog who only says yes. Branding enables us to attract specific customer segments and build their trust.
One of the biggest changes over the past ten years is the increase in comparison sites, where customers are empowered to act as a broker in their own home, entering a few basic details to find hundreds of quotations, easily presented so they can compare key facts and a summary of benefits for each policy. Financial suppliers have had to adapt to take a slice of the powerful marketing tool, even some of the most respected providers who vowed never to feature on these platforms have had a change of heart and created aggregate specific brands which promise to quote customers happy on these sites.
Again putting the customer in control, some providers give the customers access to their system to literally manage their own file! You can now access a portal to input your own information, set up an account or policy, make changes or payments as and when you choose plus save on the standard admin fee because we work for ourselves. We never have to speak with anybody who might misguide us because we are competent in managing the system for ourselves – our minds are put at rest knowing it is right, because we are doing it for ourselves!
Some companies know that there are customers who prefer personal service; self service is less their appeal. These brands become “Your” brand, they can be higher priced or have an additional premium but in exchange we receive better benefits - a courtesy car regardless of blame, a preferential rate on other financial services we may be interested in or a personal assist who will manage our finances and make decisions on our behalf, in our best interests.
As we can see the financial industry has faced huge challenges and businesses had to adapt to reassure the customers who have lost faith. We have had to show initiative and embrace innovation to become customer centric, but what is the impact on doing so internally? Next week we will look at some of the internal challenges encountered with the dramatic and diverse demand of customers.
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