There’s no doubt the current climate has challenged every single sector. For the Financial Services industry, it’s been no different.
With the huge shift across the globe to adapt to a ‘new way of working’, Financial Advisers (FAs) are finding themselves having to evolve rapidly as they try to continue to support businesses, individuals and families in an ever-changing climate.
Communication has been of paramount importance throughout COVID-19 – a challenge that has truly swept the rug from underneath everyone. So, what considerations have advisers had to make when speaking to people whose needs have vastly changed, in light of the crisis?
The disruption has meant advisers can no longer base their previous communications on past customer behaviours and assumptions. They’ve been tasked with going back to the drawing board almost, focusing solely on the point-in-time needs of a person – and their current situation.
Following recent months, a broker’s portfolio is likely to now include people who have lost their jobs because of the virus. Therefore, the last thing they want to receive is an email asking if they’d be interested in exploring a mortgage for a property they can’t afford – even if that’s what they were previously interested in.
And a broad piece of communication – covering payment holidays for example – might sit better with someone who has been made redundant compared to a furloughed customer who can still afford their monthly outgoings, with money to spare in some instances.
On the other side of the coin too, if an FA presumes everyone is struggling financially – and therefore doesn’t align with the evolving wants of their customers – they’re missing out on killer opportunities to secure new mortgage deals.
Why smart tech can provide the detail that manual processes can’t
Of course, mortgage-related communications are just one very small piece of the jigsaw. From helping individuals make new investments, to freeing up cash tied into existing portfolios, FAs have lots to do at present.
But, overall, effective communication is about understanding everyone’s real-time interests, and that’s where marketing automation comes into its own. Through intuitive engagement analysis – on an ultra-individualised level – it enables professionals to ‘segment’ customers based on their interactions and of-the-moment behaviours. And that vital information helps to power hyper-personalised communications to reflect what will resonate from person to person.
Delving even further into the data it gleans, brokers can use this savvy tech to create a ‘lead score’ system which automatically ranks how engaged a person is. For example, a ‘hot’ customer could be listed with a mark of ‘99’ – and therefore trigger the adviser to follow up with a personalised phone call – compared to a cold prospect sitting at ‘1’.
It enables a clever and efficient use of time during this busy period and means the humanised ‘chat’ is likely to be more personable.
Collating all this crucial data, automation then paves the way for brokers to map out targeted customer ‘journeys’ – a sequence of tailored, conversion-led communications – where they know content is delivered to the right person, at the right time and via the right channel such as email, SMS or direct mail.
Committing to vital customer needs now to power future growth
Of course, there’s an upfront investment of time from FAs, in order to plot these user journeys. However, automation allows for more streamlined, commercially savvy comms that can ultimately take care of themselves, without the recipient ever realising they’ve been ‘pre-programmed’.
Now is the time for advisers to understand the current appetite of each customer. Do they want to move home or remortgage, for example? Are their online behaviours focused on releasing equity? All these questions can be answered with confidence, via automation, and provide killer content that’s empathic, trusted and authentic – when customers need a helping hand the most.
Of course, automation won’t do the entire communications role of a savvy broker. It’s down to the professional to identify when the time is right to utilise data-rich information and power personalised, valued conversations – that convert.
And finally, if advisers don’t act on their customer’s evolving interests now, not only could competitors steal a march, but an FA is likely to restrict their own vital growth during a truly turbulent climate.