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6 Ways Financial Institutions Can Make “Cents” of Customer Centricity

By Caitlin Davison

“When you listen to your customers, they will reward you.”

Magic Johnson, 5X time NBA champion and sports legend, kicked off the 2022 Financial Brand Forum by energizing the crowd with his chest bumps and engaging with audience members with his talk. The business and entrepreneurship mogul also imparted some marketing words of wisdom to the 2,000+ financial institution employees who traveled from across the country to attend the CX, marketing and digital growth conference.

“Whenever you over-deliver to your customers, they become your brand ambassadors,” Johnson said.

This theme of putting your customers at the center of your marketing strategy set the tone for a consistent message shared by many other speakers during the three-day conference hosted in Las Vegas, Nevada.

This blog will detail why a customer-centric approach should be a part of your financial institution’s business strategy, with insight, data and key takeaways from top business and financial institution experts who presented at the conference.

Define Your Customer-Centric Approach

Fifty-three percent of U.S. adults say their primary bank does not offer any unique value to them, according to a 2022 Forrester Mobile Banking Survey.

So it was no surprise to hear behavioral scientist and customer-centricity expert, Andrea Belk Olson, say that traditional banks are trusted but not differentiated. So how can your institution stand out amongst its competitors?

Olson explains that customer-centric companies focus on their customer and their core needs by bringing meaningful, unexpected, genuine, and proactive experiences to the forefront of their products and services.

To your customer, what differentiates your bank or credit union when your mortgage loan rate is similar compared to your competitor? How do you plan to stand out?

One of Olson’s many tips was to create a customer mission statement clearly outlining how you plan to serve your customers/members.

Your customer missions statement should:

  1. Detail what customers want to accomplish and achieve.
  2. Explain how your customers want to be served.
  3. Describe the impact on your customer.
  4. Explain why customers care about what you do.

If you are looking for a prime example of a customer mission statement, take a look at how Netflix puts its customers front and center:

"At Netflix, we want to entertain the world. Whatever your taste, and no matter where you live, we give you access to best-in-class T.V. series, documentaries, feature films and mobile games. Our members control what they want to watch, when they want it, with no ads, in one simple subscription."

Key Takeaway

Customer Centricity is about differentiation. Differentiation is about owning one thing. The key to success is defining and understanding your customer and their needs more than anyone else.

Re-evaluate Your Indicators for Customer Engagement Success

Providing fast, timely and superior customer experience is paramount to landing and retaining customers/members in the financial industry. Betty Moon, Senior Principal/Financial Services Industry Advisor at SAP, debunked three marketing myths when considering indicators for success.

  • Myth: NPS scores are the best indicators of how your customers feel.

Not always. Net promoter scores can often be overly simplistic. They don’t get to the “why” and explain customer behavior.

  • Myth: Brand awareness is the most important.

It’s not as important as brand equity. More than half of Gen Z and Millennials would switch to financial service organizations for one more committed to ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) and DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) efforts, Moon explains.

  • Myth: Personalized marketing messages are the ultimate goal.

While personalized marketing messages are important, delivering hyper-personalized messages to your audience at the right time should be the ultimate goal.

Key Takeaway

Consider hosting a working session with your internal and external tech partners to co-create your brand’s next-gen customer experience.

Create a “Phygital” Customer Experience

With the rise of “Embedded finance,” the integration of financial services into non-financial firms’ websites, apps, and business processes, how do traditional financial institutions stand out from the fintech crowd? How do they appease Generation CX, who wants a digital, frictionless banking platform that can provide proactive financial literacy advice?


According to Sue Woodard, Senior Advisor to Total Expert, a leading Fintech company, one answer is by providing physical + digital or “phygital” capabilities. She said that generation CX wants a “financial friend” with proactive advice.

Local banks and credit unions have the unique opportunity to still “humanize” the banking experience by offering unparalleled service through personalized connection with their members and communities, delivered at the most opportune time. And with the help of technology, financial institutions can extend and scale their personalized service in all channels.

Key Takeaway

When you can help solve financial problems, you can help turn “moments that matter” in the customer journey into “moments of magic,” Woodard explained.

Optimizing every customer journey stage is critical, especially when human outreach is initiated at the right time using predictive data and analytics.

Unlock Your Data to Serve Personalized Products + Services

Cross-selling using transaction data can be a powerful marketing tool for your financial institution.

Becky Summers, who provides thought leadership and strategic guidance for Raddon, a financial services company, detailed how using data can unlock other ways of identifying and offering someone a Home Equity Line of Credit.

Traditional Marketing Criteria for a Home Equity Line of Credit

  • Retail Household (Core/MCIF)
  • Homeowner (Demographic)
  • Current Mortgage Holder (Core/MCIF)
  • Exclude if they have a HE/HELOC and other normal exclusions (Core/MCIF)


Data-Driven Marketing Criteria for a Home Equity Line of Credit

  • Paying a Competitive Mortgage (Transaction Data)
  • Paying Property Taxes (Transaction Data)
  • Paying Home Insurance Payments (Transaction Data)
  • Shopping for a HELOC (Browsing History)
  • Shopping at hardware stores frequently and recently (Transaction Data)

Key Takeaway

Financial institutions have the unique opportunity to provide personalized services through the power of data. How is your bank or credit union utilizing your data to market to your customers when it matters the most?

Incorporate a Financial Wellness Strategy

Less than ⅓ of adults in the U.S. are financially healthy, according to a report by the Financial Health Network.

The Financial Health Network also reports that while 80% of consumers want their primary financial institution (PFI) to improve their financial health, only 14% of consumers “strongly agree” their PFIs actually are doing this.

“Financial health is not marketing lingo,” Naomi Adams, VP of Communications for the Financial Health Network, said in her presentation. “It should be a part of your financial institution’s business strategy.”

NPS scores ultimately measure business success. But does your financial institution have a method to track customer/member success? You can empower your customers to reach their goals by offering valuable financial wellness metrics and tools.

And financially healthy customers often display long-term loyalty and value to your institution.

Key takeaway

So what tactics can you incorporate into your financial wellness strategy? Consider a platform that can help measure the financial health of your customers/members and suggest solutions for growth and improvement. Also, look at other tools that can complement your current products/services, such as budgeting apps, overdraft solutions, loan and payment reminders, or credit score reporting and analysis.

Transform Your F.I.’s Member Engagement with the Metaverse

Fifty-six percent of people said they would be willing to talk to their bank in virtual reality, according to a survey conducted by Accenture.

Jeremy Quainoo, County Operations Director & Strategic Partnerships Lead at JUMO, a banking as a service platform, previewed what is upcoming for customer-centricity and challenged listeners to see the world through your consumer’s eyes with the help of technology.

So, how can you take your customer engagement to the next level using next-gen technology?

Quainoo outlined the following opportunities for financial institutions to enhance their customer service utilizing the metaverse:

  • Training employees and enabling banking in the metaverse
  • Engaging with members in a virtual branch
  • Re-imaging ways to create loyalty reward management systems and digital assets services in the metaverse

Key Takeaway

Quainoo referenced a quote from Michael Abbott, Global Banking Lead at Accenture, when giving metaverse advice to banking leaders:

“The important thing for financial institutions to do is to form a metaverse strategy that aligns with their brand and purpose. Just being there for the sake of being there is not a strategy.”

For more information on how your financial institution can start thinking strategically about the metaverse, check out this article from the Financial Brand.

Financial Brand Forum Final Thoughts

“Chaos creates opportunity.”

Jeremy Gutsche, New York Times Bestselling Author, futurist and CEO of Trend Hunter, reminds a packed audience during his keynote that now is a great time for organizations to take advantage of a disrupted flow to the consumer buying journey that the chaos of COVID created.

Consumers are now more comfortable interacting intimately with brands online and expect better and faster products and services.

So what customer-centricity strategies will your institution take to drive deeper engagement and provide value to your customers/ members?

At Ideas Collide, we lead our clients toward content that converts, strategies that stand out, and consumer experiences that drive results. Are you ready to take that step? View our entire suite of services for how we can support you.

Caitlin Davison is a Senior Project Coordinator and a member of the Ideas Collide business development team, supporting new business and community partnerships for our Portland and Phoenix offices. She also has over seven years of experience providing marketing, digital, and technology strategies and solutions to TruWest Credit Union, a $1.5 billion credit union headquartered in Arizona.