Data Snacks, Member Exclusive

Data Snack: Only 41% of consumers are satisfied with their financial services messaging

  • New research shows that 17% of financial services brands use only one communication channel, and only 28% deliver unified campaigns across all channels.
  • Meanwhile, only 39% of consumers find the communications by financial brands relevant to their needs. This gap must be addressed, but how?

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Data Snack: Only 41% of consumers are satisfied with their financial services messaging

Banks and FIs are starting to recognize the need to engage with their customers on multiple channels, which has opened up a larger discussion around what customer engagement means in the financial industry. Recent data by Braze shows that there is a noticeable gap between how satisfied FIs perceive their customers to be and how satisfied they actually are. As the chart below shows, while 82% of FIs think their customers are satisfied with their messaging, only 41% of customers report being so.

a) 82 % of financial services brands think customers are satisfied with their messaging.
b) 41% of customers say they are satisfied with their financial service's messaging.

c) 60% of consumers prefer to receive communications from their financial services brands less than once a week.
d) 49% of financial services brands send communications at least a few times a week.

Source: Braze

In turn, this gap leads to limited visibility into how well any individual messaging channel is doing, or indeed, what it should be doing. For example, while 60% of customers would like to hear from their FI less than once a week, 49% of FIs send communications at least a few times a week. Excessive communication is exhausting for customers and resource-intensive for FIs. It also limits the possibility that customers will pay attention in the long term.

FIs rely on their proximity to consumers’ finances and enjoy prioritization over the run-of-the-mill social media apps in a notification bar. This differentiation can disappear if consumers are pinged more often than they absolutely need to be.

The other gap: perceptions of consumer trust

69% of surveyed Fintech companies believe their consumers have "a lot of trust" in them
12% of surveyed customers hold the majority of their assets with Fintech brands

46% of surveyed traditional financial services companies believe their consumers have "a lot of trust" in them
12% of surveyed customers hold the majority of their assets in traditional banks

Source: Braze

Despite the heightened scrutiny and competition, banks have been able to retain consumer trust in their services. While 75% of customers continue to hold the majority of their assets in traditional banks, only 46% of banks believe that consumers have a lot of trust in their institution. Fintech, on the other hand, has the opposite problem.

One explanation perhaps lies in the inherent differences between the problem statement for banks and fintechs. To put it simply, banks have more to fight for, and new fintechs have a lot less to lose. Their strategies, therefore, differ accordingly.

Building trust is difficult but central to customer engagement

Trend line about public trust in financial services between 2008 and 2022, which shows that trust has historically been difficult to achieve (in year 2012) but has been on a sometimes troubled rise ever since. A recent dip is noticed in the year 2021, which is showing signs of recovery.

Source: Edelman

Banks may be doing well with trust in comparison to fintechs, but maintaining that trust is very difficult. Financial services have historically struggled to maintain trust, which has become an even bigger problem over the past two years. 

On the bright side, though, the numbers are on an upward trend overall, which looks a lot better than a decade ago. 

Weighted bar chart of consumer sentiments about messaging by a primary bank on strategies to manage inflation from 2019 to 2021 where 31% received information from their primary bank on strategies to manage inflation and 31% didn't, but wish they had. 

2) Weighted bar chart of consumer sentiments about messaging by a primary bank on strategies to save for a recession from 2019 to 2021. Where 31% received information on how best to save for a recession, and 31% didn't but wish they had.

Source: J.D. Power

Given the current economic landscape and the pressures of the past three years, customers expect banks to abandon their historical passivity and serve as more than just a secure vault for their valuables. Addressing this change in expectations is central to defining what customer engagement is and what it should look like. As the data by J.D. Power shows, 31% of people didn’t receive any communication from their primary bank regarding important financial events like managing inflation or saving for a recession, and they wish they had.

Trend line of how Healthy, Vulnerable, Overextended or Stressed Consumers have been over a 13 month period. Where consumer's health remains unstable and finally reaches new peaks at 45% near the end of June.

Source: J.D. Power

There is a growing need for it as well. The graph above shows how fragile consumers’ financial health has been over the past 13 months, with nearly half (45%) becoming financially vulnerable from June this year. This means that banks have a unique opportunity to serve as a point of information and financial knowledge for their customers. Owing to strong bonds within their communities, often accompanied by deep histories, banks and traditional FIs are uniquely placed to serve as an information hub for consumers.

Some, like Timberland Bank, are taking this role head-on. The firm recently partnered with Plinqit, a digital saving tools provider that pays customers for engaging with education materials. These kinds of partnerships allow banks to play catch-up without having to reinvent the wheel. Kathleen Craig, the CEO and founder of Plinqit, previously said, “Banks have these beautiful websites, with great financial education content, that they’re trying to get into the hands of the consumers. But unfortunately, 90% of the clients go right through the beautiful website and go into online banking,” said Kathleen. 

To make sure that this content finds its audience, Plinqit offers Build Skills, which pays customers for engaging with educational content. “Our hypothesis was, if we rewarded them for it – even 5 cents, 10 cents – and we put that into their savings, they’d be more likely to click.”

Developing effective customer engagement channels doesn’t have to mean long development queues and rounds of trial and error. What it does mean is thorough engagement with what your consumers want and need, and the role you can serve in delivering it. That may mean a departure from tradition for a future where the bank not only manages money, but educates people on how to do it as well.  

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