Unlocking Customer Engagement: Strategies for Enhanced Experiences

The process of customer engagement begins even before you’ve done the hard work of acquiring a customer. It’s crucial to start off the relationship on the right foot before you can hope to deepen it and reap the benefits that come along with it.  

“Customer engagement should begin from the first moment of communication between the organization and prospect and should last throughout the relationship. This means during acquisition, during onboarding and for as long as you still value that customer’s business.” – Forbes

Customer engagement is the process – or journey – that can result in increased loyalty, advocacy, and customer lifetime value. But how does a financial institution go about attacking the customer engagement challenge? While there is no simple or comprehensive list of strategies, Tom McGill, PRI Director of Customer Experience, tackles a few topics to consider that can be effective as you move down the engagement path. 

6 Tips to Unlock Customer Engagement

  • Leverage the data you own to optimize each customer’s experience.

Financial institutions bulge with data but are often scarce with useful information. Understand what you have, how you can access it, and how to turn data into a strategic weapon. The goal here is personalization. Personalization can be delivered via segmentation as an intermediate step, but individual personalization should be every FI’s target.

According to McKinsey & Company, “Research tells us that organizations that leverage customer behavioral insights outperform peers by 85 percent in sales growth and more than 25 percent in gross margin.” It pays off to pay attention to trends and customer behavior.

  • Embrace digital.

Understand what the term digital transformation means for your FI. Is your digital platform flexible enough to take advantage of products and features provided by outside vendors? Can customers complete transactions digitally without needing to contact a call center or branch? Do wet signatures remain a part of your organization’s DNA? It is critical to have a truly representative team – not just from sales or IT – that is monitoring the digital space for new developments and translating those into an internal plan that fits under a broader digital strategy.

  • Don’t forget your people. 

It’s easy to spend all your time focusing on technology, but don’t forget that your customer-facing staff still have an immense impact on Customer Engagement. Make sure they know how to have conversations with current and prospective customers and how the digital tools work. If we walked into one of your branches and asked one of the branch staff to explain the value proposition behind debit cards, could they? Do they know what interchange income is? How about mobile wallet technology? Can they explain the benefits to customers or is it just some tech thing that the kids use? 

  •  Prioritize security and privacy. 

A banking relationship is built on a foundation of trust. Anything that diminishes that trust erodes the level of engagement a customer has with the FI. Make sure that the entire enterprise understands the importance of maniacally protecting security and privacy and that appropriate tools are in place to isolate risky transactions for further review. Debit card fraud tools,  managed by the FI and the customer via the mobile app, along with Positive Pay solutions to catch check fraud, are simple, yet effective ways of protecting the foundation of trust and enhancing the level of customer engagement.

  • Break down internal barriers. 

Today’s economic environment heightens the need for FIs to capture the totality of a customer’s relationship. Thinking of oneself as a lender is no longer acceptable. Further, the concept of customer ownership is stale and inappropriate.

“Hearing ‘my customer’ or ‘your customer’ being tossed around is unacceptable,” McGill said. “Every customer is ‘our customer’ and deserves that we all do everything we can to collectively enhance that customer’s experiences and improve their overall engagement with the FI.”

  • Monitoring industry trends is everyone’s responsibility. 

The developments with Generative AI over the past few months are a great example of why we need to keep our eyes on new developments. Is anyone in your FI thinking about how AI will change what you do in your shop? How about the potential for Intelligent Automation (the marrying of RPA with AI)? Are the right people interacting with your key vendors to understand where they are headed with their products, particularly those with which your customers directly interact?

Finally, who owns pulling all this together and turning it into increased revenue for your FI? 

“It’s easy to get caught up in the game of adding new features, functions, and capabilities,” McGill said. “Even if all those additions were the correct business decision, they still need to be turned into something that takes the enhanced level of customer engagement and turns it into improved profitability for the FI.”

While loyalty, advocacy, and lifetime value are some direct impacts of improved Customer Engagement, other critical elements such as brand reputation, risk management, operational efficiency and long-term FI sustainability are also outcomes. It’s time for all of us to up our games and understand that the stakes are high. Customer Engagement is not a “nice-to-have” for the thriving FI of the future, it will increasingly become table stakes.


Undivided Attention: How To Improve Customer Engagement – Forbes

A marketer’s guide to behavioral economics – McKinsey

Methods to Create Effective Customer Journeys for Your Bank – PRI 

Customer Journey Mapping: The Key to Improving Customer Experience – PRI

Digital Features Every Customer is Looking for From a Financial Institution – PRI

Profit Resources specializes in identifying profitability improvement areas for financial institutions through revenue growth, cost control, streamlining processes, and effective use of technology. Contact us to learn more about our personalized approach to propel growth and improve profitability.

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