#VCAlumni | How to Adapt to Banking’s New Normal

Posted on April 20, 2020
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How to Adapt to Banking’s New Normal

By Alana Levine, CRO, Fintel Connect 

They say it typically takes four weeks to form a habit – a regular tendency for how we do things. How habits form is a long-studied subject, and recent evidence now suggests that under the right conditions, habits can form in as little as seven days. And habits form best when they are small and specific, easy to do, and involve an action.

We are in unprecedented times, and people worldwide have been thrust into circumstances demanding rapid adaptation of day-to-day behaviors, many of which are small and specific, easy to do, and involve an action. These behaviors include how we work, shop, and pass our time – and the same is true of our banking habits.

Thankfully, it won’t take long for these behavioral changes to become newly formed habits that we likely carry forward into our future behavior, including how we bank. Consequently, there has never been a more critical time to adapt to consumers’ new habits and in anticipation of a new tomorrow. So, what can banks do who may not be ready for this swift evolution? Here are four focus areas for banks as they prepare for a new normal in banking. 

One: Use this time to understand what’s most important to your customers

One of the most impactful ways to prepare for the future is to understand and focus on your customers’ true priorities. Go directly to your customers or leverage industry insights from the resources you have at your disposal for discovery.

For example, JD Power and others have conducted numerous surveys since the start of the pandemic on consumer preferences and behaviors. According to JD Power, the most important topic to people surveyed (second to the virus itself) are money matters. More specifically, 35% of those people were most concerned about what their banks are doing to prevent service interruptions and continue normal business operations.

As a bank, what are some ways to collect this data and use it to communicate with your customers efficiently and effectively? The easiest way is to use the digital channels at your disposal to:

•    Leverage your existing social media channels to create conversations

•    Host webinars with informational sessions that provide tangible takeaways

•    Create engagement by sending surveys via email and social media to collect data

•    Find digital outlets or partners to help amplify your bank’s message to assist consumers in need

Two: Iterate where it matters most – quickly

Focus on the areas that matter most to your customers and where you can implement quick, cost-effective solutions. At the moment, access to government relief and solutions supporting digital bill pay are areas of high importance. 

The great news is there has never been a better time for fintechs and banks to collaborate for mutual benefit. A number of these fintech solutions have already committed resources to help community banks quickly adapt and better serve their customers. 

Many solutions are free for several months or are subsidized, and many can be implemented with a light or no integration required. You can find an expansive list of fintechs donating their time and tools here. In addition, a number of the ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator cohort companies have come together to create offerings with little to no barrier to entry to help banks in need of these innovative services.

It does not have to be big, and it doesn’t have to be 100%, but showing you’re moving the needle to adapt as an institution will make a big difference and deposit into the emotional bank accounts with your customers.

Three: Be transparent with your customers

You’ve worked hard to build relationships with your existing customers, so include them and have them be part of the solution. You’ll create even stronger rapport and maintain loyalty at a time when they could look to competitors that can offer the solutions they need now.

Many of your customers will have direct relationships with your bankers and can have a direct line of communication to access the information they need. Others will likely be left in a long queue waiting for a response or may not have a direct touchpoint and not know where to turn.

Use this opportunity to become a resource for your customers in a helpful, informative way. Show them what you are doing as an institution to adapt to the current environment and how you’ll be in an even better position to support them in the future.

And it’s even better if you can segment your messages. For example, send your mortgage customers targeted communications with relevant solutions you can provide them. Don’t send this content to customers who may not find this information relevant as it can do more harm than good.

Four: Prepare your strategy now, so you’re not left behind

While it’s a delicate time for outward marketing, it is the perfect opportunity for your marketing team to start planning and adapting your marketing strategies for what could become a whole new era of banking.

For those banks that haven’t yet allocated budget for digital communications, the time to do so is now. Start small and create a sustainable and easily scalable plan. The key is looking at the channels currently at your disposal, the skillsets of your team, and your support structures that can fill the gaps if you need help.

Even more critical is measuring your marketing efforts to determine what is making the most significant difference. Whether through Facebook Insights or Business Manager, Google Analytics, or even specialized tools that measure conversions, have the transparency on where your marketing dollars are working for you.

For helpful tips on how to use the various digital channels in your marketing mix, we’ve put together a resource for you here.

Key Takeaways

Today is the perfect opportunity for community banks to assess their marketing and communication goals, and to proactively implement strategies to meet consumers where they we know they are going. Your customers are changing their habits, and we must adapt our solutions to match their needs and keep their business.

The one thing that we can bank on? Innovation will undoubtedly continue. Those who can adapt to the times will survive and be stronger than ever because there is no doubt that today’s newly forming banking habits will ultimately be our future.