How a customer-centric approach can help banks support consumers with money worries

By Brandon Aitken, Global Commercial Director | Financial Services Sector at Webhelp

The global pandemic, sky-high inflation and the cost of living crisis are the perfect storm that has worsened the financial situation of many people around the world. In the United States, a quarter of Americans say they’ve felt financially stressed all last year. And in the UK, three in eight adults say they have seen their financial situation deteriorate since the pandemic, with 15% fearing it has gotten significantly worse, according to CAF.

Unfortunately, there is an undeniable link between money worries and mental health. The financial crisis is leading to a mental health crisis that is just beginning to hit. Fortunately, this is a situation that is not ignored. It can be said that there has never been so much awareness of the impact of money worries on a person’s well-being. It must be a good thing. Society has a golden opportunity to dramatically change the way it supports and helps people with money issues.

An opportunity to rename

Banks have inevitably been pushed to the front line. The good news is that consumers have taken their stand. Banks see this as an opportunity to rebrand themselves not just as providers of financial products, but as providers of financial care.

However, to do this effectively, offering non-judgmental support is crucial. A customer-centric approach will help banks provide support while minimizing consumer confusion. This is especially important at such a stressful time. Taking such an approach can help foster goodwill and have a positive impact on the bottom line.

Widespread financial confusion

A consumer’s ability to adapt to changes in taxes and inflation can have a significant impact on what they are able to put on the table for their family. However, this often confuses the average consumer. Just look at the widespread confusion caused by the Energy Bills Support Scheme earlier this year.

It is not a surprise. Banking and tax use rich language that seems designed to confuse. So much so that a 2019 study found a clear downward trend in financial literacy among young adults, with four in five fail a basic financial literacy test.

Improving financial literacy will help improve economic outcomes for millions of people. This will lead to less unmanageable debt and less need for difficult conversations with loved ones. Knowledge is power and will allow people to regain control of their money. Addressing financial literacy and being more candid with customers can be the perfect opportunity for banks to show they care. They can pivot their brand to become a friendly financial care provider, not an enemy to people trying to make money at every turn.

A change of direction

Digital service is increasingly important and can make a huge difference if built with empathy. However, it can only go so far and is most effective when combined with real human contact. Rationalizing with another human being can help a worried client and tackle their issues head-on. Putting problems into perspective can also reduce worry.

Focus on shaping your frontline customer experience. Support Advisors can talk to customers about detailed products, solutions, and support programs while providing salient advice on what to prioritize. This requires a shift in focus – a shift from debt management to financial care. In our experience, language is a big part of it, especially in digital services.

Technology can be designed to recognize consumer concerns by analyzing their language and tone of voice. These smart algorithms can be used to sound the alarm. Likewise, using technology to find the right words can help reassure customers. A human voice and empathetic language will make the conversation genuine and sincere.

Additionally, technology can also be used to recognize problems before they arise. He can spot trends in data. For example, he can identify and report cash-strapped customers and help refer them to the financial services team.

Build loyalty

To secure their future, financial services organizations must consider their customers to be humans and build their approach around that. Support teams can deliver breakthrough customer experiences and drive brand loyalty by focusing on long-term results rather than short-term solutions.

Banks are financial experts, and consumers are not. Now is the time to take a more customer-centric approach to helping consumers with money worries. Banks that can provide support and advice will accelerate their success. However, investing in customer support teams will be crucial to doing this effectively. Experience shows a clear link between investing in customer experience colleagues and positively impacting customer well-being. It makes perfect sense. By covering and making sure to support their best interests, colleagues will feel more engaged in their work and add more value to the customers they serve.