By Chris Chronis
Capitalize on returns one touch at a time.
In a world increasingly enabled by the evolution of technology, you would be forgiven for thinking that the humble paper statement was going the way of the dodo.
While there is no doubt that consumers today are moving through every aspect of their lives with speed, what they are looking for from banks is to be met where they are today. In practical terms, this means they desire two things when it comes to how they interact with those banks:
- Choice in how they receive communications
- Confidence that all of these communication channels meet their rapidly rising expectations
Believe it or not, paper remains the dominant form in which all age groups access and use statements.
This is despite the growth in digital channels, acceptance of digital transactional communications, and the ubiquity of the phrase “turning off paper.”
The 2016 Consumer Preferences Documents and Delivery survey by Fiserv showed that 68% of consumers receive paper monthly account statements, and a sizable percentage receives paper and electronic statements.
Only 32% receive electronic-only statements. And—perhaps the 1biggest surprise of all—baby boomers are moving away from paper more than those tech-savvy millennials.
Let’s shatter another myth about monthly statements—the notion that nobody reads them. In fact, Fiserv research found that consumers—irrespective of what form they receive them in—spend on average five to six minutes per month reading their monthly statements, which adds up to more than an hour a year.
With people so engaged when it comes to their finances, financial institutions are missing an opportunity if they are not proactively using statements, bills, and other transactional documents as valuable touchpoints in the overall consumer experience.
So how can you take advantage of such a willingly captive and connected audience?
Grasp the opportunity to actively interact with your accountholders, tailoring and personalizing the content, so that the individual knows your bank is speaking directly to them.
Witness the advent of targeted marketing online. People no longer want to be bombarded with blanket offers for products and services that are not relevant to them. Instead they want suggestions for goods and services that are specific to their interests and likes, wants, and needs. The same rule applies here—listen to what consumers want and act accordingly. The more it resonates, the more engaged they will be.
It goes without saying that statements should be attractive, eye-catching and innovative to earn attention.
Achieving this can be as simple as using full color—and formatting documents so that it’s easier to zero in on specific important and actionable promotional or educational information. For e-statements, a URL link to a web landing page or QR code that takes the reader to special offers can create a more seamless bridge between channels. Some progressive financial institutions are even experimenting with using video with their e-statements. For paper statements, it needs to be made clear how the consumer can take the next steps.
The matter of delivery matters far less than the message conveyed within.
Monthly correspondence through transactional documents can highlight new services that are available. For example, you can highlight notification and alert options to let people know about:
- Potential fraud activity
- Fee avoidance
- Account access changes
Think about the individual consumer and what matters most in their lives. Are they new parents? Perhaps they are interested in starting a college savings plan for their recent arrival. A college graduate, on the other hand, could be interested in learning about options for auto financing to buy a car. Think strategically about leveraging transactional communications in a way that enhances relationships with accountholders by empowering them and enhancing their trust in your financial institution.
The best way for financial institutions to understand what accountholders are looking for in a monthly statement is to ask them. Fiserv research shows that 33% of consumers recall seeing personalized messages, but those aged 50 years old and above are the least likely to have perceived seeing personalized messages on account statements.
An interesting trend we are seeing is that non-parent households are more inclined to receive digital-only statements than households with children. This suggests that those accountholders with children at home have a greater desire for physical records, possibly because this format better suits their busy lives.
This time it’s personal.
All consumers are challenged to keep up with the busy lives they lead, but they are still making time to read their statements, regardless of how they receive them. Your accountholders are not overlooking the statement, so you shouldn’t either.
If you are merely viewing this document as a compliance necessity, then you are missing out on transforming statements into a dynamic marketing and educational tool.
The statement, both paper and digital, is an effective medium for making the customer feel that their bank really understand their wants and needs. Combine transactional data with promotional and educational campaigns to reach the right accountholders at the right times. You will be meeting people at that point of convenience, and position your bank to drive meaningful engagement and brand loyalty.
Chris Chronis is director of Product Marketing, Output Solutions at Fiserv, a financial services technology firm based in Brookfield, Wisc.