During an unprecedented time of uncertainty, however, “Effortless, efficient transactional banking is simply table stakes,” as Allison Netzer wrote for Forbes recently. Your brand can no longer rest on data alone. Now is the time for humanity.
As consumers rapidly transition to a digital-first if not digital-only world, their reliance on FinTech will only grow. It may be tempting to think your FinTech brand will be able to rest on its laurels in such an environment. But think again. Prior to March 2020, the most satisfied banking customers, for example, used both branch and digital services according to J.D. Power & Associates. The least satisfied? Digital-only customers. Moreover, J.D. Power found that just one-third of Americans believe companies genuinely care about their situation. With 40 percent of Americans believing “the worst is yet to come” for their personal finances, a brand steeped in trust has never been more important.
According to the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer, 81 percent of consumers “must be able to trust the brand to do what is right.” Consumers want brands who actively solve problems, who collaborate, who make a difference. FinTech brands should communicate transparently and tactfully, even if the communication is “we don’t know yet.” During times of uncertainty, one thing may be certain: mistakes will be made. Quickly acknowledge them. Apologize, don't make excuses. Take responsibility. Correct course, multiple times if needed.
A recent Harvard Business Review article summed up the new normal in two sentences: “People feel vulnerable right now. Empathy is critical.” Before 2020, a notification of an overdraft could stick to the basic fact: your funds are overdrawn. Now such a notification could seem insensitive if not panic-inducing. Facts must be coupled with empathy and compassion. Your brand must be more consumer-centric than ever before with more emotional nuance and delicacy. Notifications in the new normal should aim to help and educate as much as they alert. They should put the person ahead of the product.
Your empathy will ultimately communicate the value you create for your customers and result in stronger relationships and brand loyalty. While there’s been a veritable “empathy explosion” in tech design in general over the last few years, the current climate ups the ante. A brand’s emotional intelligence must now be as strong if not stronger than it’s technological intelligence.
The brand story and storytelling in general has gotten a lot of play. “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make,” said Seth Godin, “but about the stories you tell.” But as financial marketer Juliet D’Ambrosio said, “This is not the time for chest-beating, celebrating your brand or making strong competitive claims.” Now is a time for people. And it’s also a time for their stories. Make your customers your top storytelling priority. What’s the on-the ground story of your products and services in people’s lives? How are they doing? What are you doing to help? What are you doing to improve their story? As with trust, make authenticity your base foundation in your storytelling strategy.
Personalization has also gained a huge amount of traction lately with increasingly targeted messaging, content and experiences. Here's the paradoxical thing about stories: the more specific they are, the more universal they end up being. One person’s highly specific story ends up appealing to a wider audience. Nonprofits have long leveraged this tactic in their fundraising campaigns, telling the story of a single person or family in order to illustrate the bigger mission. Storytelling is, as Margaret Atwood said, “built into the human plan.” Make sure it’s built into your business plan, too.
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