Doing Customer Engagement Better: Some Practical Advice

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7 September 2021
Daniel W. Latimore

Start small and keep building

Let me put this plainly: as product commoditization accelerates across financial services, firms’ critical differentiating factor will be customer engagement. How customers feel about their bank or broker, their insurer on adviser, will be the make-or-break factor in the longevity and profitability of the relationship. That’s why we’ve aggregated content from across Celent into a hub page devoted to customer engagement. There we host new interviews with practitioners from across the financial services spectrum, aggregate more than 100 research deliverables, and point you to the vendors who are providing customer engagement solutions to financial institutions.

What’s particularly compelling is listening to FIs who have embraced customer engagement talk about exactly how they’ve done it. We have a host of interviews on the hub page; I’ve highlighted some of my favorite bits from across the ecosystem.

Citizens Financial Group notes that humans are motivational; if something has friction or pain, they’ll disengage. But the good news, and a way that Citizens generated support for change, is that the best process is usually the cheapest one, since it eliminates inefficient steps and duplicative procedures. The waste has been engineered out.

For Brown Brothers Harriman, client engagement has always been important. In today’s world, data and analytics have assumed a central role. Long gone is the idea of periodically pushing a static statement. Clients today access their data in real-time; they pull it to meet their needs, rather than having to wait for a standard format to be delivered. Part of that new value proposition is BBH enabling direct real-time access to third parties, like those providing independent verification of transaction cost analyses.

On the life insurance front, John Hancock has Vitality, an engagement platform for its life customers. Engaging customers helps them live longer, healthier lives. One way of doing this is awarding points for good behaviors; another is mechanisms like grocery discounts. In the early days of the pandemic the company sent facemasks to its Vitality customers, and more recently gave them 400 points for getting the Covid vaccine.

As cutting-edge as Vitality is, Hancock is still working through the different experiences on the app and its legacy systems. The CEO tells a great story about showing off the app to a group of 30-somethings a few years ago; they all loved it and pulled out their phones to enroll. They couldn’t, though; onboarding was still done the old-fashioned way, and not a single one followed up. That being said, a two-track proposition is much better than nothing. Pre-Vitality, Hancock would interact with its life customers once or twice a year; now it’s 20 to 30 interactions. Per month.

Those are just a few of the tidbits available on the hub. I’d encourage you to browse through it and take away what’s most relevant for you. The volume of our client inquiries around this topic shows that you’re not alone in wanting to do customer engagement better.


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Asia-Pacific, EMEA, LATAM, North America