Canadian Francois Brunelle photographs doppelgangers, “people who share an uncanny resemblance but no family ties.”
He’ll find two identical people and bring them together. “When they meet they will be in shock. And then I will take a picture of them,” says Brunelle.
Of course, each photographed person is unique. But casual observers remark on their similarities, not their differences.
Does your credit union closely resemble other financial service providers, perhaps imitating another institution you perceive as successful? Can consumers tell you apart—or do they remark on your similarities?
The danger in striving to meet the generic needs of all is that you meet the unique needs of no one and jeopardize your special identity in the process—one that would attract business.
Research shows consumers expect personalization of services. Credit unions have distinct advantage as they know members well and can differentiate from “one-size-fits-all” providers.
Discover how your “amazing picture” is the one where you differentiate and personalize to meet consumer expectations.
‘Listening, not imitation, may be the sincerest form of flattery.’–Joyce Brothers, psychologist
“Conversation is the key to good business,” says MarketingProfs . Survey results reveal low tolerance for poor relationships as 89% will seek services from a competitor following a bad customer service experience.
Ninety-percent of consumers are “increasingly frustrated” with long hold times, 84% are unhappy when access to account information is not readily available, and 30% of first-time callers disconnecting after long hold times will not call back.
Interestingly, 96% of unhappy consumers will not complain.
“Succeed by taking on the goals of your customers,” says Forbes. Relationships are important. “A business often insinuates itself best into a customer’s life, memory, and loyalty by being a backdrop to the story of their lives.”
Businesses will never be the center of consumers’ lives, rather, the customer needs to be the center for the business.
And consumers like to be asked about their preferences. “A service or product is only started by the company; it’s finished by the customers.”
‘If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.’—General George S. Patton
“Customers Want Personalized Experiences, Quality Customer Service from Their Banks,” says an NGDATA survey. “Consumers demand more from their user experiences;” 42% indicate customer service is a top priority, but only 20% think their bank understands them.
“The best way for banks to increase and maintain loyalty is to gain a deeper knowledge of the customer.”
Key survey findings:
“Banks Have One More Shot with Customers—Maybe,” notes Forbes. A Cisco survey reveals 43% of U.S. customers don’t think their bank understands them, and 31% feel their provider does not help them reach financial goals.
One in five respondents indicated “they would turn to a competitor if they don’t get the service they want.”
One way to connect is through personalized digital services, according to Digital Disruption in Banking by Accenture. “By bringing digital personalized financial advice to the heart of the relationship, banks can boost engagement,” notes the study.
Many do not feel a connection to their financial institution. Almost three-quarters of U.S. customers indicate their banking relationship is “merely transactional.”
More than 50% of customers want proactive recommendations of financial products and services, and nearly half would like to see analysis of their spending, “forward looking and available in real time.”
Given this largely bank-based research, what opportunities exist for credit unions?
‘Great artists are people who find the way to be themselves in their art.’—Margo Fonteyn, English ballerina
Consumers have unique perspective and needs. What techniques might help you differentiate to create special appeal?
“Every Brand Needs a Distinct Tone of Voice. Here’s…How to Do It,” says MarketingProfs.
Five steps to creating distinction:
Perhaps targeting a particular audience will help you differentiate. “Expand Your Business by Attracting a New Demographic,” says American Express. “If you’re not identifying new opportunities and markets, you’re simply stagnating until your inevitable demise.”
Prior to moving ahead, prepare by asking:
Reaching that new audience may require change. “Rush to Serve Underbanked Spurs Innovation,” says American Banker. This target group of consumers prompts “development of creative products with appeal beyond their initial target audience.”
Notes an executive from the Center for Financial Services Innovation, “What it speaks to is banks getting a better hold on what all their customers really want out of a banking relationship.”
Innovation can help you differentiate. To assess your progress toward this aim, consider 10 questions about reaching innovation goals as suggested by strategy+business.
Among them: Were adequate resources available? Do employees work together? Were industry norms challenged? Were consumers consulted? Did senior leadership participate?
Realize consumers are not alike, and you are not like all financial providers. Your credit union has a unique presence, capabilities, and opportunities you can leverage to foster loyalty-building relationships with members.
As Charles Barkley noted, “We’re not all supposed to think alike.”
LORA BRAY is an information research analyst for CUNA’s economics and statistics department. Follow her on Twitter via @Bray_Lora and visit the CUNA blog, “The Research Roundup: Economic Perspectives.”