Financial Institutions: Building Trust via Customer Service Marketing

What makes marketing financial institutions very different today than ten years ago?  Trust.

Ten years ago, trust was assumed.  The stock market was booming,successful dot-coms were popping up everywhere and jobs were plentiful. But then September 11th happened.  And  the dot-com “burst.” And let’s not forget about the stock market crash, the fall of Lehman Brothers, government bailouts, the real estate market hitting an all-time low and the highest unemployment rate in decades. Today, trust is non-existent.

Marketers who focus on regaining trust will make it into the next era.  Companies- especially financial institutions- will start earning trust by reaching their customers exactly when and where they need something.

Simply put, that means better customer service.  But today’s definition of superb customer service goes beyond, “thank you for your business ma’am.”  Customers today expect instant gratification.  Customers want to be seen as individuals.  And today’s customers have bigger problems to solve and bigger voices than ever before.

Old Components of Great “Customer Service Marketing” for Financial Institutions

  • A friendly smile and a thank you.
  • A fancy lobby, suits & nylons.
  • A call center.
  • Great interest rates.
  • Online banking, conveniently located ATM’s and longer hours of operation.

New Components of Great “Customer Service Marketing” for Financial Institutions

  • A totally awesome iPhone app.
  • A response from a real person when tweeting a complaint about the financial institution.
  • Listening to the blogosphere and making adjustments.
  • Creating financial products that offer value, rather than offer high interest rates.
  • A customizable online banking interface that allows the customer to create a budget, track investments, create a plan to payoff debt, get financial education and earn rewards that are relevant to their situation.

My online marketing business card says, “get into your customers hands” (yes, it’s a sassy play on another common phrase). Today, customer service marketing is about getting in your customers hands-meaning getting into their iPhone, Blackberry, text messages, emails and social media networks-at the right moment.  It’s about paying attention to individual needs and providing ways to solve their financial problems.

It’s easy for consumers to blame large financial institutions for the economic downturn.  Smart financial marketers should accept this and turn their focus on regaining trust.  Financial institutions in particular should change their definition of “customer service marketing” and prove that they can once again be trusted by providing instant,  applicable and individualized customer service beyond high interest rates.

What do you wish your financial institutions would do differently?  Do you trust financial institutions?  What would make you trust them more?

Nicole Emerick

Nicole Emerick founded Ms. Career Girl in 2008 to help other ambitious young professional women thrive in a career they love. Ironically, growing MsCareerGirl helped Nicole transition her own career from commercial banker to digital marketer. Today Nicole leads the social media team at a large advertising agency in Chicago. Nicole also served as an adjunct professor at DePaul University where she helped develop the careers of PR, Advertising and Communications students. Tweet with Nicole @_NicoleEmerick.

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