Take the First Step to Becoming a Trusted Advisor

September 26, 2016 at 4:30 PM

Does your financial institution have your most current email address? Are they using it? Or are they still relying solely on snail mail? Chances are it’s the latter.

Based on my experience, a typical bank or credit union has up-to-date email addresses for less than half their customers when many consumers actually prefer to receive emails over physical mail. In addition to people preferring it, emailing customers as opposed to using physical mail can actually work better. For instance, my family are First Niagara customers, and following the merger, when Key Bank sent three copies of their 90 page conversion kit, they naturally only arrived by snail mail. This was not of much use to either of my daughters, who are off at college. Not to mention the forest in Canada that was leveled to provide the paper. I wonder if Key Bank could have saved a few dollars by using a digital channel?

What is true for service applies equally for sales. Many existing customers are much more likely to read and respond to an email message that was triggered by a life event. But the same fundamental issue exists – your institution simply doesn’t have your email address.

How can this be? The reason I hear most frequently is that the customer never provided an email address, or the one provided is out of date. Next I hear that branch or call center staff are too busy to ask for an updated address.

That just doesn’t happen with other “trusted advisors.” For instance, my accountant sends the attached post card every year prior to tax season. My auto insurance provider asks if my email address has changed every time I call her office. And I receive a meaningful discount on my premium if I allow the firm to communicate electronically with me.

Asking for your customers’ email address is not an intrusion. It demonstrates that you are in fact a trusted advisor and that you want to ensure you are able to contact them with important information in the manner they prefer.

With reduced branch volume, shouldn’t bankers be looking for opportunities to actually have dialog with their customers? I have to believe that when customers visit or call, the employee has the extra 10 seconds it takes to validate an email address. Bankers aspire to be trusted advisors. Making sure they have valid email addresses is a small step your financial institution should take today.

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Mark Gibson

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