Emotional Connection Is Key to Customer Engagement

By Barbara Sanfilippo

In the drive for organic growth, chances are your bank is evaluating every aspect of the customer service experience. This can include your branding, branches, call center, communications, products, promotions, on line experience and much more.

This is certainly a time-consuming and worthwhile venture. However, I was struck by a comment in a Harvard Business Review article stating that among companies going through the exercise of tracking the customer experience, “overall customer satisfaction is often already high, and seldom a competitive differentiator.”

What’s a more effective differentiator?

The HBR article is unambiguous: “Emotionally connected customers buy more of your products and services, visit you more often, exhibit less price sensitivity, pay more attention to your communications, follow your advice, and recommend you more.”

I don’t know about you, but I expect a high level of service and when I get it, I appreciate it. But really—it’s no big deal. In fact, I bet you pride yourself on delivering outstanding service.

However, in a transactional business like banking we often focus on being efficient, friendly, professional and responsive. I ask for a loan; you give me a loan. How about a credit card or checking account? No problem. The challenge is we tend to focus more on the product and process rather than on the customer.

So here’s a key question. Do you really know your customer’s emotive drivers? What are they trying to accomplish in their lives? Why do they want your credit card or loan?

I can assure you they don’t want a product. You think someone really wants to borrow or go into debt? Of course not. They want to achieve a sense of security, buy that new home or plan for the future.

Our job is to engage and make an emotional connection. Always ask, “What don’t I know or understand about what is most important to my customer?”

Emotional motivators build strong customer relationships.

The HBR article lists ten significant “high-impact motivators” that affect customer value. On that list I was delighted to see the following four items that I believe your frontline staff can definitely affect:

Every day you have an opportunity to help customers improve their financial well-being. You help them save for the future, improve their credit score, invest wisely, adopt sound money management skills and achieve peace of mind.All of these impact the four key emotional motivators: confidence, a sense of well-being, freedom and security.

Emotional connection affects the customer experience.

If you are serious about creating a differentiated customer experience stop focusing on products and start engaging, educating and connecting. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. How skilled, confident and proactive are our people in uncovering goals and dreams?
  2. Is it time to upgrade our training and process to focus on building deeper relationships rather than selling a product-of-the-month?
  3. How can we elevate the role of our customer contact staff and managers to be viewed as professional relationship managers and financial partners?

Emotional connection is the key to organic growth and loyalty. If you want to be relevant in the lives of your customers you must move beyond a transactional experience.

In fact, during a recent telecoaching call with a group of financial service representatives, one banker shared how a customer commented, “No one has ever asked me such important questions or demonstrated such a concern for my welfare!” It’s important to note that the banker is from a community bank with a strategic goal and commitment to truly being a financial partner to its customers. That means all retail and business bankers are expected to build deeper relationships through proactive outreach.

Imagine your staff making powerful emotional connections with customers. Their conversations with customers would be empowering and transformative. As a result, opportunities for future business, loyalty and referrals would multiply. Caution: do not let digital products, devices and email communications replace the power of personal connection. Genuine connection is irreplaceable.

Barbara Sanfilippo is an award-winning speaker, coach, customer relationship consultant and founder of High Definition Banking. Her training and consulting firm partners with banks to instill a structured relationship management process to accelerate organic growth and focus on the financial health of customers. For white papers and more visit: www.HighDefinitionBanking.com. Email: [email protected]. LinkedIn.