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The coolness factor in banking

Except for people at Fintech Meetups or students at business schools, no one actually thinks banking is “cool”. For them, it earns money – yes. It is necessary - yes. But cool? NO.

The average citizen prefers dealing with his insurance company, rather than sitting down to do his financials, and more people would wear a t-shirt sponsored by a Trump Organisation than by Deutsche Bank. The numbers are even worse when it comes down to business banking.

Within the customer loyalty research, the NPS – net promoter score – gained a lot of traction and credibility in recent years. It measures how loyal customers are by asking them on a scale from 1 to 10 how much they would recommend a product/service to a friend. While scores from eight to 10 are interpreted as truly outstanding results and depict a loyal customer base, anything below six is considered a catastrophe.

Meanwhile, the banking industry averages around 4.4 (just above the public sector (3.6)). Banking and financial service companies have trouble creating a loyal customer base that identifies with the product, the company and ultimately the brand. Even high performing banks within like Sparkassen and Genossenschaftsbanken peak at NPS scores of around 5.8, which is far below “cult” companies such as Tesla Motors (9.6) or Lemonaid (9.5).

So if even the “best” banks cannot create a loyal, cult-like and evangelist customer base, it seems to be an industry problem:


There is just no loyalty in Legacy Banking. It´s not “cool” enough.

There are no evangelists speaking in favor of their legacy bank account. In fact, banking is perceived as a commodity, while it could be so much more. It is a necessity and always includes a lot of administrative efforts. It’s ultimately under a negative light.


So, how can we make Banking cool again? (if it ever was)

Looking at companies such as LEGO, Trello or the challenger banks like Monzo, it seems that there is a secret sauce that makes them cool. Ultimately, this means that there is a lot of untapped potential that fintech banks can challenge. But one thing that will differentiate them from the legacy banks, and bring the cool factor into banking is the customer experience.


3 core initiatives that make you cooler

Among all the actions and initiatives, there are three that should be the base of every future banking experience.


1. ASK your customers for their opinion - and let them talk!

It is best practice that companies ask their customers for feedback on the experience. This is done via in-app surveys or via predefined surveys that try to get as much data as possible via Facebook or LinkedIn. But what happened to speaking to customers face to face? How valuable are these cold-surveys really?  You’re not sure. Therefore, you should ask your customer! LEGO is a leading example: through its amusement parks it organizes meet-ups and events or asks parents and kids for direct feedback. They speak to their customers, but mainly, Lego let’s them talk. As a result, it’s not a surprise that Lego has a cult like following as the customers feel like they’re contributing to something that’s bigger than themselves.


2. BE TRUSTWORTHY through honesty and transparency

There are several companies that aim for complete transparency. One way is the Transparency Open Product Roadmap on Trello, used by Buffer (and even Trello itself) which is available to everyone. Further you can even engage with this Trello board by voting on the different to—dos. Of course, this transparency comes at a cost, but ultimately the reactions of customers were super positive. It creates a bond of trust, which is one of the most crucial factors for success or failure in financial service industry. So be transparent with your customers!


3. ENGAGE PERSONALLY with your customers on multiple levels

Engaging with your customers already includes asking them about their needs and listening (1), as well as being transparent (2), but the emphasis here lies on the personal touch. It is important to know as much about your customers as possible; to interact meaningfully and to add value to their experience by knowing them well. This is also possible through various channels (please don't send out a newsletter a day and think this is customer engagement!). Taking the case of Monzo who calls its customers Monzonauts, it was (and still is) able to create a real “cult” in the UK around its brand. Monzonauts happily identify themselves with their bank and believe in the mission of making great banking products that are easier to access and better to use.


To wrap up, it is important to challenge the status quo of the banking experience. Conservative does not equal trustworthy. Bringing back the coolness factor into banking can make it a truly outstanding experience for the customer. By offering meaningful interaction, complete transparency and personalized customer engagement you will also start to wear your bank's logo on your t-shirt.


References:; Deutsche Bank Facebook likes (116 tsd) versus The Trump Organisation likes (326tsd) as of april, 24th.; 2012 Bain & Company: Was Bankkkunden wirklich wollen

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