Customer behaviour is essential in any part of the customer journey of every organization, and it comes even more crucial when we discuss financial services.
Banking and financial services usually tend to scare people a bit. They look like monstrous and cold entities can’t develop a relationship with the citizens, aware of their needs and their reality.
However, customer behaviour can help to change this myth.
In this article, we will explain why customer behaviour is essential for financial services to better know their audience and craft a fulfilling experience for them.
What is meant by customer behaviour?
Before analyzing its importance in financial services, we must understand what customer behaviour is.
According to the dictionary, the definition of customer behaviour” is “the study of consumers and the processes they use to choose, use (consume), and dispose of products and services, include consumers’ emotional, mental, and behavioural responses.”
This definition – and this concept – covers several disciplines, for instance, sociology, psychology, economics, and many more. Customer behaviour tries to understand why and how people make buying decisions.
As you can see, multiple factors can make people change their minds before they take action. Also, we have biases, and many factors can completely change the result marketers could imagine.
In particular, three main factors influence people’s buying journey:
Personal factors: customer’s interests and opinions also change with different ages, gender, cultures, and other demographic aspects.
Psychological factors: customers feel about the marketing message they receive.
Social factors. How people in our social group think and act and how their choices affect us.
According to a Salesforce study, 76% of consumers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations.
Knowing people’s insights and understanding why people act as they do, helps marketers better understand how customers react to advertising messages. It will help them know users’ tastes, preferences, and habits.
In this way, experts can understand what moves people’s decisions and why.
It will also lead to the definition of target and buyer personas.
Also, it becomes useful in several departments and fields, financial services included.
Why is understanding customer behaviour necessary for banking services?
Lots of people feel not so comfortable when it comes to banking services, not to talk about banking customer care. They see it as something too complicated and even a bit intimidating.
Usually, if we discuss the middle-class, average person, clients’ wishes are pretty simple. They want the services to help chase their goals, easy to understand, reliable.
They don’t want complex processes and infinite queues of action, but simple steps to make their life better.
It leads to another problem users often have with banking services – the experience. Suppose the idea of a positive experience with a bank sounds pretty weird to you. In that case, this is precisely the reason why people need it – better: they deserve it.
Sometimes, the banking experience is not a dream. People see it as difficult, frustrating, time-consuming and exhausting. It is not the kind of adjective someone would like to hear about his own business.
Customer behaviour can be the game changer to stop this rhetoric, which is not so much rhetorical, after all.
People want their bank to be at their side and help them in their daily tasks, with a personal connection.
It is the reason why customer behaviour is so crucial for banking services. Thanks to this kind of study, banks will know better how their customers act and think, and they will understand a lot more about their desires, aspirations and issues.
They will be able to provide better service, improve their communication, know which elements of their offer works best for different customers and requests.
Customers, on the other hand, will receive an improved experience and a series of services which perfectly aligns with their needs and necessities. It is a win-win.
Let’s see how we can apply customer behaviour to financial services, especially in the after-2020-world, in which customers’ habits are slightly different from the past.
How pandemic has reshaped customer behaviour for financial services
It is no secret that 2020’s COVID-19 pandemic changed a lot of our way of shopping and communicating with businesses, and financial services are no exception. It is even possible that some of these changes will be permanent even after the end of the global emergency.
Already before these last crazy months, people’s minds were changing. Digital was becoming more and more prevalent in everybody’s life, and COVID-19 only accelerated this process.
It was happening to banks and financial services, too.
However, what exactly means that pandemic reshaped customers’ behaviour? It is a change that pervaded many fields, and we still don’t know how permanent it will be. Nevertheless, we can already see that many things are going to be different from before. Shall we see a couple of them?
The use of cash is declining
If cash already started to fall out of favour with people, COVID-19 surely didn’t help. Because of lockdowns and closure of physical shops, people had – and still have – to buy almost everything online, even essential products like groceries. It led to effective use of the online payment, which started to convert even the most sceptic among us.
If it wasn’t enough, the pandemic didn’t help the image of cash: not only is it one of the dirtiest things on Earth, but people were also worried it could spread the virus.
All of this led to a 57% fall in cash usage and a rise of payment with cards of 70%. Also, online purchases rose even more, and people started to feel more secure with online payment methods.
Contactless and online payments seem to be the future, and the cash may become a weird, out-of-date memory of the past.
Even financial services will have to adapt and perfect their online services.
Banks need to be as ethic and responsible as possible
We already discussed activism and ethical principles in brands and how companies should now rise to fight for their beliefs.
The same is going to happen for financial services and banks because it is time and customers ask it loudly.
It is not pure flattery. It is a crucial signal that banks are becoming more friendly and caring about their customers. Customers will appreciate it and will be more likely to trust and choose banks that care about it.
If before having ideals, believing in something and communicating it could be optional, now it is not any more.
Clients will need more flexibility, transparency and security
People desire a bank that is transparent and efficient, supportive, and that sends clear messages. Communication has never been so crucial, and banks should learn it as fast as they can.
In such insecure times like the ones we are living, people need stability and transparency, and banks are one of the main places where they will look for them.
They need a bank that speaks, with services and operations that everyone could understand without any – or little – explanations. A flexible bank, adaptable to everyone’s needs.
Of course, security is another important theme that customers will crave, especially after 2020.
People need a smart, efficient, transparent and flexible banking system. Something very different from the common idea of the marmoreal, cold, inscrutable and formal financial services people sometimes still dread.
How can financial services become more customer-friendly?
Thanks to customer behaviour analysis and AI.
How financial services can use AI to meet customer needs
Yes, even financial services can take advantage of Artificial Intelligence to improve a lot of their services!
In this case, you can use AI to understand their customers’ behaviour, and create an environment their clients will love and in which they will feel more comfortable.
We selected three things AI can help you to accomplish.
Who are your customers?
You can’t improve if you have no idea on when to start.
To understand what people are looking for in financial services, well, the best thing to do is listen to their own words!
For instance, using social listening to understand what people are on. Listening activity puts you in their shoes and makes you feel appreciation, stop a potential crisis or know what they love and what they don’t.
On the other hand, you can also look for what they would like to understand and know from you. Maybe mid-age customers want to know more about investments, or young people may need help in the first phases of life on their own – so, how to read and pay a bill and more. Here you could use your buyer personas or analysis tools like Ghostwriter.ai profiler to dig into your customers’ mind and preferences.
Knowing people’s habits is one of the most precious things a marketer can do. Practices are potent to tell us what people want, and it doesn’t make an exception when it comes to financial services. Banks need to know who their customers are.
Customer behaviour can help to understand people’s consuming habits and profiling. Not only thanks to buyer personas, but also thanks to their analytics. Collecting, selecting and analyzing people’s data with the help of AI will give now to marketers and banks a lot of information about their customers’ habits, ideas and personality. A goldmine to implement services!
What do your customers’ want?
Sentiment analysis allows you to analyze people’s comments and opinions about you and use those data to fix or implement your strategy.
Artificial Intelligence algorithms handle a large amount of data. They extract patterns and analyze the tone of voice and other elements thanks to NLP.
Moreover, adding sentiment analysis to NLP and AI leads to a focus on emotions and how your customers handle them.
That’s what makes all the difference and allows you to understand if that comment full of pleasant words is a real compliment or a sarcastic critic. Client experience needs to consider the human factor. The more you engage and connect with your customers’ emotions, the more your brand will benefit from that.
Especially when it comes to financial services, it will help to understand how people feel about the banks, what they like and what makes them feel uncomfortable.
How can you make them satisfied?
AI can help you organize and analyze data, collecting it in one place and then breaking it down by keyword – for example, by request type or sentiment.
So, when you customers try to reach you by email, by phone, by ticket, to ask you about your services, or for information, you can help them with a terrific time to respond!
You are using data to understand and anticipate requests. Your bank can also foresee a possible crisis. There may be inefficiencies in a particular geographical area, or your branch can have a hard time for some reason. You can join the dots, understanding in advance and make the right decisions.
Again, collecting observations and requests and having them processed by AI solve many of your problems.
Customer behaviour is essential for many brands, so they can understand what their customers do, their reasons and their needs.
Financial services can’t avoid and, honestly speaking, it became even more critical after the Covid-19 pandemic. Banks need to know what their customers want, think and believe, and they have to adapt to new times.
One of the most useful tools to do this is studying customer behaviour and pairing it with Artificial Intelligence. Services will improve, and customers will be happier!