No two people or businesses are the same. We all have unique challenges, joys, and experiences. We all desire to be seen, heard, and understood by those around us, particularly those closest to us. Those personal moments matter, like when your co-workers remember your birthday or your spouse surprises you with a meaningful gift. It makes you feel special. It makes you feel like you matter.
The same applies to your customers, whether consumers or businesses. They want to be thought of as unique individuals and organizations — as people rather than numbers. They want to feel like your brand understands them, knows them, and cares for them.
Radius recently performed a Macro Trends Analysis that looked across a wide range of research initiatives conducted during the past 18 months within the financial services space, including retail banking, business banking, insurance, fintech, investment banking, and financial advisory services. From that analysis, the idea of personalization rose to the top as a consistent and important theme across both B2C and B2B audiences.
Below are some questions that dive a little deeper into what personalization means within the financial services sector, why it matters, and what your brand should do about it moving forward.
How do your customers define personalization?
In short, consumers and businesses alike define personalization as tailored content, advice, recommendations, and communication from a brand. It is a deeper, more meaningful connection with a brand that enhances the customer experience and tailors content to customer needs and wants. This could be as simple as using a retail banking customer’s first name in an email (instead of “Dear Customer”) to giving financial advisors more tailored education materials based on the needs of their unique clientele.
Why is personalization important?
Within financial services, our macro analysis indicates that personalization is an important trend for several reasons:
- Finances are stressful. Managing money and budgets is a large source of stress for many people and organizations. Generic communication and advice related to these topics do not help reduce that stress. People and organizations are seeking perspectives that relate directly to their situations.
- It’s about individuals, not just numbers. Consumers and businesses want to believe they matter, that they are seen and heard, that they are important to and valued by the financial institutions they trust with their money. That means they are looking for signals from their financial services partners indicating that those partners recognize and understand their unique needs and situations.
- Relationship building is essential. Many want to build a relationship with financial institutions, seeking a partnership that helps make their individual or organizational financial goals a reality. They are looking for institutions to take steps that will enhance the relationship. In many ways, these steps link to treating each retail or business customer as a unique individual with unique needs and situations.
- People process things differently. People absorb and process information differently, including when they engage with a brand and brand content. Therefore, whether it be with a B2C or a B2B customer, institutions are expected to share information in a variety of formats to allow people to engage in ways that best suit their preferences.
What should brands do based on this information?
Those brands that haven’t already should seek to reshape how they think about their customers. It is vital to remember that each customer, whether a single individual or an entire organization, has unique needs, experiences, and goals. A blanket approach to your customer base will not suffice. Brands need to truly understand who their customers are, what makes them tick, and how they can help them achieve their financial objectives — both big and small.
Here are a few ways financial services brands can enhance their personalization efforts, bringing more value to their customers, increasing engagement, and building greater brand loyalty and trust.
1. Understand how your customers segment.
By now, we all know that treating customers like they’re the same isn’t beneficial to the bottom line. Segmenting your customer or prospect base into subsets of consumers or businesses that have common needs, attitudes, behaviors, and/or priorities allows you to prioritize the low-hanging fruit by creating content, developing products, buying media, and so on that are all personalized to the unique wants and needs of your target. This approach leads to greater engagement with your brand.
2. Map out customer decision pathways.
Decision pathways reveal the underlying patterns in decision-making that lead to engagement, providing your brand with the details required to prepare for and impact every situation along the customer journey. Mapping out these pathways provides personalized targeting opportunities for your brand to intervene across all customer segments and to convert consideration into purchase, whether in the B2C or the B2B space.
3. Create experiences that match up with preferences.
Knowing the different decision pathways or journeys is vital, as is understanding what differentiates your various customer segments. Taking that to the next level requires brands to build experiences that match up with what their customers are expecting or desiring. That will mean engaging with them via different touchpoints based on their needs and preferences. Customer experiences must align with their priorities and requirements.
4. Tailor product offerings and advice to match unique needs.
From your product development pipeline to the way you promote offerings and advice to your customers, it’s critical that what you are focusing on lines up with the individual goals, preferences, and circumstances of your different target groups. You need to show through the things you offer up that you understand the situation your customer (B2C or B2B) is in, whether that be by acknowledging financial goals, life stage, business size, industry type, or something else.
5. Pinpoint messages that customers resonate with most strongly.
When you know what messages strike a chord with your target customers, you interact with them more efficiently at key moments in the customer journey, breaking through the noise in the marketplace and creating personalized content that speaks directly to them as unique individuals and organizations.
The trend toward seeking more personalization offers a breadth of opportunity for financial institutions to differentiate themselves in the minds of customers — both personal and professional. By taking steps to show you understand and are mindful of the distinct needs, goals, and circumstances of your various customers, you’ll put yourself in a position to grow via both new customer acquisition and deeper customer loyalty.
Want to learn more about the impact personalization can have on your firm?