Banking on Digital Growth
Banking on Digital Growth

Episode · 1 year ago

72) #ExponentialInsights: 5 Steps to Improve Your Customers’ Financial Wellness


When it comes to the virus, the end of the pandemic is in sight.

But the financial implications will be felt for years.

And financial brands need to step up and help.

That’s why Whitney Loe, Director of Business Development at Ignite Sales, has outlined a 5-step plan every financial brand can follow to help their customers’ long-term financial wellness.

In this episode, we discuss:

- The pandemic’s impact on financial wellness

- What “digital” really means

- The 5 steps you need to take to improve your customers’ financial wellness

You can find this interview and many more by subscribing to Banking on Digital Growth on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or here.

Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for Banking on Digital Growth in your favorite podcast player. have to be out there taking care of your customers, and that's how they're going to continue to thrive and evolve. But part of it is adapting, and it's adapting at a much quicker pace than what we have seen in the past. The pandemic showed us anything. It's we have to move faster. MM, mhm. You're listening to banking on Digital Growth with James Robert Lay, a podcast that empowers financial brand marketing, sales and leadership teams to maximize their digital growth potential by generating 10 times more loans and deposits. Today's episode is part of the Exponential Insight series, where James Robert interviews the industry's top marketing sales and fintech leaders sharing practical wisdom to exponentially elevate you and your team. Let's get into the show. Greetings in Hello, I am James Robert Ley and welcome to the 72nd episode of the Banking on Digital Growth podcast. Today's episode is part of the Exponential Insight series, and I'm excited to welcome Whitney Low to the show. Whitney is the director of business development and ignite cells where they are digitally guiding customers to wise financial choices. Welcome to the show with me. Thank you. I'm excited to be here. Thank you for having me today. Well, you know, we're a couple months in two 2021. And what I'm interested to start this conversation is what are you most excited about right now for financial brands, when you just reflect on the progress that has been made over the past few weeks since we started this year together? Um, first of all, I'm just happy to be and what I would call like the post pandemic stage. I think we're all finding Army normal. I think everybody is coming up for air and, you know, catching your breath and and getting ready to move forward and in the new environment that we're in. And I'm excited for financial brands in particular because 2020 was the most devastating year for Americans in many capacities, but especially with their finances. And I'm excited for financial brands to be able to guide those customers back to financial wellness and to be there to help them get where they need to be on their journey. And I think it's something that we should all aspire to do. And it's something as an industry, that should be our number one priority right now is to help everyone recover from what took place last year and what's still happening this year. Yeah, What's still to come? Because we're not We're navigating through this. And if I go back and listen to some of the early podcast, I was making predictions that, you know, a couple of things were gonna happen. We're gonna have the health crisis. We were going to have a financial health crisis. We were going to have a societal crisis that knowing what that looked like. But it's like I was going back to study the 1918 1919 flu pandemic. And it's like you start identifying these patterns and and then we're going to have the mental, the mental health crisis coming out of all of this and a lot of it is tied to. We're just There's just so much on our plates right now, you know, as individuals as you know, personally, professionally, organizationally and and and for you, I think and and really, for me, I I try to just keep a positive mindset with all of this because it's so easy to go down the negative dark rabbit hole and one of the ways that that I look at keeping a positive mindset is just reflection, like what has been going well and also what have we learned? So could you articulate and maybe distilled down a Just a key lesson that you've learned navigating this journey over the past year? One of the key takeaways, I think in everything that has occurred in a lot of things have occurred, but from a perspective of financial perspective. And I choose that because, actually, you know, come from the financial...

...industry. I worked in banks, and then I ended up getting a job at a credit union, drink the Kool Aid and that was it. And so you know that that motto of people helping people really means something to me, and it really resonates to me. And what I've learned through this pandemic is that, you know, there are people out there that are really suffering, and they really do need help with their finances. In the financial capacity of 2020 it wrecked people's lives overnight in some cases, and the fact that there are people that are having these, you know, mental health issues. I mean, suicides are up anybody that is choosing to end their life because of their financial situation, because of the embarrassment that they feel and anything like that just breaks my heart. And so as an industry, I take it personally to think that, hey, you know, we really do need to make this. Our number one priority is to help them on this financial wellness goal, and we have to do it quickly, and we have to do it also the right way. We have to have the right tools to actually help customers and consumers and members that are out there. So that was my biggest takeaway. Was just watching the, you know, the pain and the hurt and and being like, Let's do something about it, Yeah, no, exactly like, let's turn those lessons and that insight. We start to turn it into action, and that's you know why I appreciate the work that you're doing and and and the rest of the team at ignite cells and and and to that point, when you think about this idea of cells digital cells in this post covid world, what is a commonly held belief that the banking industry might have but you passionately disagree with, um when I think that the word digital has honestly almost become overused. And I think it's become confusing to a certain degree because I think sometimes when you're talking to financial institutions and you say the word digital where their mind goes really is technology and delivery channels. And so I feel like sometimes we get off topic and we're more concerned about the pieces of technology and the delivery channels versus actually the real engagement and what is actually like digital engagement and member engagement in customer engagement. And so I think sometimes we need to step back and say, Okay, what is it really that we're trying to solve and in what capacity delivery channels are great, But what are you going to do to actually solve the problem in order to be able to put it into a delivery channel and get it to that customer? So that's one thing that I think sometimes we just get too focused on the technology part of it and not focused enough on actually how we're solving the problem, because the technology is just the tool. The vehicle to help guide someone from point a to point B. But the conflict of that, the challenge is when, at the executive level, a technology purchase decision is made not really thinking about how that's going to not necessarily impact the account holder, the customer, the member's life, but those that have to deploy the technology, the employee experience. And so it's a double edged sword of looking at. How is this technology going to either help enable or could maybe create some fear? Conflict resistance? How do we navigate those conversations more so internally when it comes to helping others say, You know, technology is used to empower what you're doing to empower the lives of others, not to be a threat or to take away your job. How can we put people's minds at ease? So that's a really good question. And, you know, I read your book and you made a really good point in your book, which was all of the departments and financial institutions have to come together to make this work. This isn't just for the I t department or the marketing department or anything like that. So you all have to to come together and decide. Ultimately, you know what is...

...your goal. And how are you going to identify the problem? Sometimes I think we all get together. And we're just, you know, we were brainstorming and we're talking, and we're like, Okay, well, this sounds really cool. And this looks like a really good shiny object. And maybe this will be really good. And sometimes I think we end up throwing things against the wall and hoping it's gonna stick. When if we were actually engaging with the consumer on the level that they're desiring and asking the right questions and guiding them, I don't think we would have to sit there and wonder what new technology is best and what they're going to want. Because if you're asking them when you're interacting with them and you're asking in the right way, you're already gonna know. So then all you do is you take that information, that data, you analyze that you put it together and come up with a plan and implement what it is that they are actually looking for. So you're not assuming anymore. You're taking the Assumpta part out of it. Yeah, let's talk about that. That idea of coming up with a plan because you and the team at Ignite Sales wrote a guide, which is a five step plan for improving your customers. Financial Wellness. What was the impetus to to sit down and put together? It's It's a great piece of content, very practical advice. We'll talk through some of the the insights, but I want to get into why do this to begin with in the first place? And really, what role does financial wellness play for the future growth of financial brands? That's I mean, that's a great question, you know, ignite. We've been in the industry for 20 years more on the bank side than the credit unions, and our goal has always been customer service and customer engagement. But when the pandemic came up and we saw the toll that it was taking on, you know, Americans across the country and and also in the financial institutions who were scrambling, trying to figure out how am I going to continue to interact with these customers and help them get where they need to be? When we can't open our branches right, we can't. Nobody can come into a branch, and our online communication platforms might not be where it needs to be. And so really, it just came to like a screeching halt for some financial institutions, and it was really scary as an industry to try to figure out Hey, how are we going to get back and get connected to these customers again and help them? And so when we're talking about, you know, writing this this white paper and talking about financial wellness, financial wellness is the key to success. For financial institutions to continue to exist, you can't be complacent, can no longer sit back and wait to see what everybody else is doing. You have to be out there taking care of your customers, and that's how they're going to continue to thrive and evolve. But part of it is adapting, and it's adapting at a much quicker pace than what we have seen in the past. The pandemic showed us anything. It's we have to move faster. Absolutely, and it's that idea that AQ adaptability quotient plus e Q Emotional intelligence is going to They're going to be too competitive advantages, and you talk about this idea of speed, Jan Belen is quoted in the White paper quote. Banks have a window of opportunity to lead in financial wellness. But they need to move faster if they want to stay at the forefront of this amazing opportunity and and, for some clarity, say, financial wellness. How is that different than what this industry has spoken about for years? I think with some half truths or not really big commitments behind, which is that idea of financial education, financial literacy. How is financial wellness different than financial education or financial literacy? So it's incredibly different. And if you had asked me that question five years ago, I would have told you you're crazy because I would have been like, Oh, no, it's all about financial education and credit Unions are big on financial education and they should be. I just don't know if it was absolutely executed in the right manner at different times. Um, you know, we have in credit unions, you have a lot of certified financial counselors and things like that. But you've got humans asking other humans questions. So what does that mean? That means everybody...

...asked something differently, and everybody does something their own way, and there's nothing wrong with that. But if you're not asking the same questions consistently, and you're not engaging in a consistent manner. It's really hard to have financial education, take whole and so financial wellness, that is, that's just the customer journey. To be able to have peace at night when they go to sleep to not worry about you know where they're going to get the money for their next mortgage payment or have their water cut off for their electric cut off. Or, you know, am I going to be homeless, especially since the pandemic, especially with, you know, people losing their jobs and getting furloughed. So this goes way beyond financial education. You can sit there and talk to them and try to teach them things, and not that you shouldn't and they want to learn. People want to be good with their finances, but it goes so much deeper than the education. It's how you make my life better. How can you improve my situation? And they're looking for that from their financial institutions, financial wellness, financial empowerment and this is This is not a very popular thought that I'm about to share and definitely will ruffle some feathers. Financial literacy and there's research coming out showing that financial literacy alone is actually more detrimental to a person's financial well being, because you're giving them the knowledge that's creating a false sense of security or expertise. But there's not the follow through to apply that knowledge or the expertise to guidance, the counseling to make that knowledge stick and create those positive behaviors. So I really like what you're talking about getting getting good at asking good questions because you break down here a five step plan to do just that and and I want to talk through each one of these points here because they're very practical, which is number one Discover customer needs, which is number one in this process to build a plan for financial wellness. Can you talk about what that is and how to apply that thinking? So when you're talking about when we talk about discovering, um, customer needs, it sounds like a really simple concept, and in most people's minds it is. But it's actually more complicated than what even we realize. It goes so much beyond saying, Hey, you know, do you want this checking account or how do you want? You know, this loan, it's about actually deep diving into the customer's financial situation and learning what it is that's actually going on. And so at at night, that's the big thing that we do is. We're asking the questions, but we're asking the questions in the right way and then the right capacity, and it's a deeper level than and then just a lot of this is, you know, at the at the basic level. It's just okay, what You know, I'm gonna push this product or service because it's what I know and I don't know these others, and I really don't know what that's going on with them. But this just looks good and I'm going to offer it to them. And what happens is they end up getting in the wrong product and service, and they end up getting frustrated and they go somewhere else. You haven't really accomplished anything. You haven't really discovered what's going on with them at the financial level. You just gave them something and hope that it will work for them. But part of discovering the needs and asking the right questions, it really it comes down to service, and when we talk about service, service is not where you point the consumer to what the financial institution is wanting to sell services objectively, providing the consumer what they need. Two totally different different concepts. And if you think about it, a lot of times financial institutions do want to run promotions or specialist and push certain products and services, and there's nothing wrong with that. But at the same time, we have to still be asking what it is that they actually need. And we have to be guiding them. They want to GPS. They don't they want to know, Hey, where do I need to be going? And how can you help me get there? And how can you tell me things that I may need without me even knowing it's no more of this looking back at this historical data...

...and things like that. So when it comes to Discovery, you've got to ask it in the right way, helping the unaware become aware like it's almost like if we're looking at this as health care, it's a diagnostic, and we're going through because you know, people if people come in and their self diagnosed meaning, uh, well and and and we and we asked the wrong question. What what type of checking account do you want? It will lead them down the path to your point of potentially frustration and confusion, and they'll just leave. But when we put those guard rails on the bumpers of of a bowling lane to guide that that ball down the the alley so that they can get a strike and and and feel really good about the progress that they're making, it's providing a framework, which which brings us to point number two. Not only should we ask or, as I teach here go all in, ask, listen and learn and then lean in to to offer the solution to the to the pain points. But you said something here, Number two, which is to record goals. That is probably one of the most important things you can do in your digital transformation journey. And this is this is where digital becomes so powerful. Imagine you're having these conversations, you know, with your customers. And, um, it's your front line staff and whether it be through call center in your branch, um, even a chat bot. However it is, if you're not recording that information and taking it and storing it and analyzing it. How are you going to know what to anticipate or work to next to provide to that customer? And that's where the digital comes into play. So with our platform, we're asking these questions, but we're taking the answers and we're saving them. And we're putting them in reports that you just basically log in and you've got all of this data at your fingertips ready to go. And no more like analyzing it, trying to pull it out of your core, throwing it into an Excel spreadsheet, trying to clean it all up. Now these are reports that you just get in and look and you know exactly what's going on. And we can tell you so many different things with our Data Analytics, and that's incredibly powerful because you're going to discover that maybe that customer does need a home loan, or maybe they need a car loan. But maybe it's not right then. Well, if you're not keeping up with that and you're not going back and touching base and saying, Hey, you know, you said you might be buying a car or house or something. I just wanted to check in. You're losing that opportunity. He's going to be able to remember all of those conversations and remember to pick up the phone or send an email and call that customer. It's taking a proactive stance. It's a proactive stance. It's actually really interesting that we're talking about that. We have an article coming out with you in sight. I think it's next week and it touches exactly on this. And the title was it of it is you say you want a home? Oh, do I have a car loan for you? Because right so they told us they wanted all they told us they wanted to hold three months ago were completely forgot about that. So we're gonna send them this, you know, mass marketing email about about a car loan. It's much deeper than that. But that's what's going on there, telling you one thing. And sometimes we're doing the exact opposite, and we've got to stop that. Yeah, So we asked good questions. We diagnosed. We discover customer needs number one. We record goals number two, and and that's really where we can turn. And I love how you frame this. We turn the data into analytics and the analytics become the insights that we can take action on. Which brings us to point number three offering accurate and easy suggestions, and that almost echoes what was mentioned before. It's about small steps, small steps. It is definitely about about the small steps. It's about the the guiding. It's not just going, Oh, hey, what you need because they don't always know what they what they need. It's about uncovering what's going on and you being the one providing the solution and some people liking it now. I mean, we have a lot of terms that we use in the industry cross selling deep selling. But actually, one of my colleagues at IGNITE has the perfect phrase, and she calls it deep advice. And that's exactly what it is. We're advising them what they need they need to be doing and where they can get... their financial wellness journey. And and one of the statistics out there is 57% of consumers. They just want to be heard by their financial institution. They just want to be listened to, and and that's what we're doing in this capacity with these guides and this level of engagement. Well, that that's your digital EQ. That's your digital emotional intelligence. You know, you're just offering that that ear to listen to and then provide the prescription, the cure to the solution to their pain points. Which brings us to number four tracking and measuring progress. Because if you can't measure it, you can't manage it. And then how are you going to know if you're moving forward on that journey? Which point Number four is to provide a wellness score? Yeah. So this is, uh, this is one of my favorite concepts when it comes to financial wellness, and basically, their wellness score is having an analysis for where they stand. It's similar to your FICO score. Score, score, score. Excuse me, but we're giving members away, you know, to actually gauge their progression because financial wellness is a lifelong journey. It's going to be forever adapting and changing or each individual consumer. But this gives them the ability to gauge where they are in that journey, so it's able to give them some confidence and some security to know that they're actually reaching those goals. And for the financial institution, it's the same thing. It's letting us see that there were working towards that goal and it's showing us that we're helping them get there. So we're on this path together and so we can both set the same goals and set out to accomplish them together. And that's why we're focusing on this wellness score and also, you know, to get more even practical. We want to get it to a level where you can actually see what's going on with your peers to, because we all like your peer comparison. So you know, we want to take it to that next level as well. It's definitely a new way of looking at financial wellness and it definitely a new way to help the consumer get to where they want to be. I'm a big believer that financial coaching is the next level up, like every checking account gets packaged with a financial coach and the financial coach is not there to tell someone what to do because I was having this conversation with someone here at the Digital Growth Institute the other day. You never want to ask someone what they want, but you also never want to tell someone what they need. You ask the good questions. You get good at asking good questions, and then you can provide a recommendation and a path forward for them. But you have to provide a way to measure the progress that they're making. Progress must be greater than perfection because I think it's so easy that when we look at the journey, the path we're always measuring against the future state, which as you move forward, that horizon line is always going to move forward. So you're never going to feel like you're making any progress. You measure progress by looking behind where you came from. This is a great idea with the wellness score. Which brings us to number five. That idea of the coach, the accountability number five here is just check in. Yeah, just check in. That's really important. That's something that I think sometimes we don't do enough and we all get busy. Let's let's be real. We all have busy lives, personally and professionally. We all wear several different hats, but sometimes I think that the consumer experience stops after the account opening. I don't think that sometimes we follow up in the ways that we should, and one thing at at at night that we really work on with our partners, and what we're really proud of is we give them away to actually check in with their customers. And I I'm a firm believer of taking care of the customers you already have. I know that we all have to get out there, and we have to get new customers and bring in, you know, new consumers. But if you're not taking care of the ones that you already have, you're not really doing yourself any service by not going back. And I liken it to like a financial wellness checkup, and and we keep...

...talking about this analogy. But if you go to the doctor and you tell them what's going on, you expect him to be able to diagnose you and then give you the tools to fix it. And I think what happens sometimes in financial institutions is we'll talk to them, even like the financial education, and we'll be like, Okay, this is what you need to do, but we're not giving you anything to help you get there, and so I think it's really important to go back and do this financial check up on your existing customers while you're still working on garnering Newlands. So it's very important to have those touch points. And and that is something that you know we believe firmly in at night and our clients due to and we've seen the results from it. And 79% of consumers say a personalized service is more important than a personalized marketing. And they want to be able, you know, to have their conversation, the seamless between the channels, which is while we're talking about this digital, and they don't want to have to repeat their information if they told you something once, they don't want to walk into a branch and have to go through the whole conversation again. So those are all those touch points that we work in, and that is our way of keeping in touch with these customers and and taking them on that journey with the financial institutions. It's really about micro moments. It's about micro experiences because I think you know, the idea of masses still found its way into digital, and I'm going to give a shout out to Linda Jarman Johnson, who was a guest on episode number 45 titled Creating Servant Oriented Content. Lynn had just shared in one of our digital growth book clubs that her team is doing outbound outreach, literally just calling their account holders not to sell anything but just to simply check in. And I think this is key. See how they're feeling right now? And it's opening up so many more opportunities for growth by just asking good questions. So there's a very practical application from someone else that has shared this in the book club with what you're speaking, and that's what I try to do. I try to connect dots and people together who are doing amazing things and this. In fact, Whitney has been a very good conversation, a lot of amazing practical insights. If we could just sum it all up. What is one key action that you would recommend for financial brands to commit to take over the next 6 to 12 months to continue to make progress just along their digital growth journey? When it comes to this idea of guided insights, I think most importantly, and I've said this earlier, it really is. This year needs to be focused on the financial wellness of your customers. And how are you going to get back there? You know, I would suggest Take a step back. Look at what you're doing now, and and look at ways that you can actually make some improvements and change some things. And then look also for the right partners. Let's be honest, we can all do this on our own. We all have to work together, but find somebody in the industry that has been there and done that and and and has been around and can work with you and and has numbers to give you in data and somebody that really wants to be a partner. And I'm not talking about just vendors. I'm talking about everybody, like, look for somebody that can help you get there and step back and go. Okay. How are we going to ask these questions? And how are we going to capture this data? And what are we gonna do with it? To make it better for our customers? Get good. Asking good questions. Good questions. Yeah. Yeah. And And get this and get get us back on track. Because it was a hard hard year Last year in 2021 year of recovery, And, uh, we have a big task ahead of us. We really do. We really do, and it's time to It's time to really get serious about that. Absolutely. If someone wants to continue this conversation with you, Whitney, what's the best way for them to reach out and say hello so you can find me on LinkedIn? I'm on there all the time. You can also go to ignite sales dot com and reach out to us through there. And then my email is W low and that's L o E. There's no W in low attic night sales dot com. Alright, Whitney, thank you so much for joining me on another episode of banking on digital growth. Thank you, James. As...

...always. It until next time be Well, do good and wash your hands. Yeah, thank you for listening to another episode of Banking on Digital Growth with James Robert Ley. Like what you hear? Tell a friend about the podcast and leave us a review on apple podcasts, Google podcasts or Spotify and subscribe while you're there. To get even more practical improvement insights, visit www dot digital growth dot com to grab a preview of James Roberts. Best selling book Banking on Digital Growth or order a copy right now for you and your team from Amazon. Inside, you'll find a strategic marketing and sales blueprint framed around 12 key areas of focus that empower you to confidently generate 10 times more loans and deposits until next time, be well and do good.

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