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How finance brands can tackle customer apathy head on

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Turn indifference into care

For finance brands, one of the biggest enemies to customer loyalty is customer apathy. Just consider the low number of customers who switch banks. In this survey by Deloitte, 20% of participants had changed providers for one or more products in the three years leading up to October 2019.

Which means 80% hadn’t. And, for 50% of this 80%, there were three reasons why: ‘there were no better options available’, it was ‘too hard to pick an account’ and they ‘couldn’t be bothered’.

Such apathy might sound like a roadblock for finance content marketing, but it’s also an opportunity. Transform indifference into care — and you’re on the road to winning big customer love.

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The antidote to customer apathy #1- Taking customer feedback seriously

Key to breaking down apathy is listening — and listening hard.

Take Melbourne-based neobank Up, which was launched by a team of software engineers.

“We came into the finance space, not as bankers, but as customers,” says Anson Parker, head of product. As a result, Up is keenly attuned to how banks relate to their customers and where they fall short.

By way of example, Parker gives the Australian launch of Apple Pay. Available for two years overseas before it took hold Downunder, Apple Pay was hotly anticipated, yet banks were reluctant to release details on its roll out, which, consequently, came as a surprise.

“Banks were telling people their feedback was important, but wouldn’t give yes or no answers,” says Parker. “Sometimes, banks can be too afraid of sharing information, in case they miss deadlines or create unrealistic expectations.”

Up turns this approach on its head, through open conversations powered by its app, which facilitates two-way chats. Customers can get support, ask questions and submit ideas, while Up can send notifications. It’s friendlier, more intimate and more interactive than secure email or hard copy letters.

The antidote to customer apathy #2 – Inviting customers on a journey

Historically, big banks have presented themselves as distant, authoritative experts.

And they’ve been slow to adapt to contemporary expectations. These days, customers, enabled by social media, seek mutual, interactive relationships with their brands, which means it’s okay to admit fault, propose ideas and launch experiments. Trust comes, not from the appearance of infallibility, but from transparency.

Up has embraced this from the get-go. On launching in October 2018, the bank offered only a limited set of features: essentially, a debit card with a pretty app that let the customer manage their spending, but not do much else.

“It was obvious we were the new, small guy in an old, established space, so we transformed that into an honest dialogue with our customers,” Parker says. “We started sharing what we were working on, what we were going to do next and what challenges we were facing.”

We started sharing what we were working on, what we were going to do next and what challenges we were facing.

This approach excited — rather than alienated — customers. As of March 2020, Parker reports Up has attracted more than 200,000 customers. Plus, with hundreds of people signing up every day, it’s one of the fastest growing banks in Australia.

What’s more, this transparency has given rise to finance content marketing opportunities in the most unlikely of places.

Our release notes, posted on our blog, have become a cult favourite,” says Parker. “We’ve embraced them as a place to inject personality and humour, instead of publishing a typical bullet list of bug fixes. People look forward to hearing about our updates and share them with one another.”

See, too this blog post, in which Parker takes his Up card on a five-week honeymoon in Europe, and the Up roadmap, which is visible to absolutely everyone. Product and business development are not secretive processes, but explorations shared openly with customers.

The antidote to customer apathy #3 – Empowering — not frightening — customers

Traditionally, finance marketing tends to play on customers’ fears, such as financial insecurity and status anxiety. But, while this might help to sell products, it doesn’t help build long-term relationships.

If you want your customers to engage with you the way they do with their favourite clothing brand, then you need to empower, not frighten. “At the core of the way we talk to customers is our desire to take them from a state of stress and anxiety about their finances, to a happier place, where they’re in control,” says Parker.

To this end, Up’s app hyper-informs customers about their money. Among its features are a map that displays spending geographically; the ability to sort spending by brand; real-time recording of transactions, including names and locations of businesses; and optional balance notifications (visible without the need to login).

How could you transform customer apathy into fandom? Get in touch.

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Jasmine Crittenden
Jasmine Crittenden has written extensively for major finance brands including Westpac, BT Financial Group, Suncorp and Aberdeen Standard Investments – across both digital and print. She’s an expert in content that puts the human element in finance marketing, be it connecting with local communities, inspiring millennials to care about super or clarifying the complexities of personal loans.