“Ghosting” – if you’re not familiar with the term – is when someone you’re in a relationship with stops communicating with you, leaving without a trace.
Customer Tom may have chosen your financial institution for a low interest auto loan. Maybe he sought you out for his primary banking activities by opening a checking account, transferring IRA funds, and refinancing his mortgage. Whatever the reason, this customer engaged with your company to fulfill a financial need. Tom wants you. Tom needs you. And, in the beginning, your staff and Tom most likely had several face-to-face interactions or phone calls. But, as time passed, your communications have been met with radio silence.
Many financial institutions are quick to point out that once someone becomes a customer, that person is a customer for life. However, as with any thriving relationship, the how, what, and when of communication is key and ongoing exchanges are essential to building a partnership.
How you communicate
According to Forbes, a key marketing trend for 2019 is understanding how customers communicate and that customers expect companies will communicate with them in the ways they like. “That’s why it’s so important for marketers to be aware of their customers’ communication preferences.” If you are not already capturing and storing your account holders’ preferred contact methods, make it a priority so that you can easily communicate by text, email, print, or whatever method each customer prefers.
Quora, Inc., recently reported that the most comprehensive communication strategies include both email and texting, but if only one had to be chosen, texting appears to be more effective.
- “90% of all text messages are read within three minutes.”
- “SMS produces engagement rate 6-8% times higher than emails.”
What you communicate
In addition to communicating through your customers’ preferred delivery channel and taking advantage of the high read rate text messages receive, the content is just as important as the method. Most important is that messages are personal. As Shep Hyken stated in a Forbes article about customer service predictions, “Personalization continues to become more personal – people are impressed with how the companies they do business with seem to know them.” While that spring home equity promotion may be top of mind for your marketing staff, it may not be important to the customer who just got married, had a baby, or lost a job.
Cornerstone Advisor recently reported that Pete DuPré, CIO of Elevations Credit Union, shared how Elevations found that integration of key systems was key to making customer information more accessible via a 360 view. And to display comprehensive but consolidated information, staff need a convenient and accessible method of documenting all interactions the customer has had with your financial institution. Tom may have called or come into the branch to add his new spouse as a joint owner. This could trigger a “congratulations” text along with an offer for Tom’s spouse to transfer funds into the credit union. Millennial customers want to increase their credit scores to have more access to credit, so notifying them periodically that they qualify for higher credit card limits gets immediate attention. Capturing and analyzing past activities can help you personalize future notifications.
When you communicate
You may have a successful on-boarding program for new customers, but when’s the last time you reached out to them personally? Focus on the customers’ needs – keep them updated about the status of a mortgage application or periodically notify them about progress toward a life goal, like saving for college or buying a home. Birthdays or anniversaries of account opening, reaching the halfway point on paying off a loan, reaching a higher tier for certificate rates – all warrant individualized communications with your valuable, lifetime customer.
No more ghosting
Customers are not just comparing you to other financial institutions anymore. They’re comparing you to the best service they have ever received – from any company they do business with. Staying in touch through a customer’s preferred contact method with personalized communications that are timed based on an analysis of the customer’s past interactions and activities, can help ensure the relationship lasts – and that your financial institution doesn’t get ghosted!
 Hall, John, “5 Marketing Trends to Pay Attention to In 2019,” forbes.com, June 17, 2018.
 Hyken, Shep, “Ten Customer Service/Customer Experience Predictions for 2019,” forbes.com, December 16, 2018.
 Kaushik, Preeti, “What is SMS marketing vs. email marketing?” quora.com, December 9, 2016.
 Myers, Ryan, “How mid-size banks and credit unions turn CRM into success,” gonzobanker.com, June 26, 2019.