Today is Tax Day! If you are like most Americans, your tax forms have been filed and you are anxiously waiting for your refund, or you are reluctantly writing a check. Regardless of which category you are in, you are no doubt thinking about your financial situation. If you are receiving a refund, you are probably thinking about what you are going to do with your windfall of money. You are probably debating whether to use your refund to pay off debt, invest it, or maybe treat yourself to something from your favorite shop. If you fall into the unfortunate group that is writing a check today, you may be thinking about how your budget is going to be impacted and where you may need to make cutbacks in spending. Whichever group you fall into, you have choices to make and you may be thinking about what you could do differently in 2016 to change your tax day next year.
As I thought about my own tax situation, I realized that there are few times during the year where money is so top of mind, and as a result, there may be no better time for Financial Service companies to engage customers. So, I decided to do some quick research to see how companies were trying to engage customers regarding taxes. I was also hoping I might learn something that might benefit my own tax situation in the future. For my research, I visited 15 major financial service’s websites to see what the experts were saying about taxes. I figured these companies would have valuable content and tools to educate their customers about products and services that would help with tax planning. To my surprise only 3 out of the 15 sites I visited had any content on their home pages about taxes. Two out of those three were promoting retirement products that had tax benefits, and the other site was promoting a partnership with TurboTax. The other 12 companies completely missed an opportunity to engage their customers at a time when they are acutely aware of their finances.
At Tahzoo, we work with clients to build highly personalized, and relevant customer experiences to meet specific business objectives like; revenue, advocacy, conversion, etc. A cornerstone of our approach is to gain a deep understanding of our client’s customers and develop relevant content that engages and addresses specific customer needs. Sometimes, this approach results in sophisticated rules-driven, personalized content publication, but in some cases, it can be as simple as re-purposing existing content and publishing it at the right time. The key to delivering a great customer experience is providing valuable information to customers when they need it, and at times, this will require more complicated approaches, but sometimes, it is as simple as looking at a calendar and identifying relevant dates in your customer’s life.
Based on my quick and highly unscientific research, 80% of the financial service companies missed an opportunity to become more relevant to their customers by not providing even the simplest tax related content on their sites. After working for large financial service companies for 20 years, I completely understand why this happens, and the common reasons include; compliance challenges, conflicting business goals, “turf” battles, and channel conflict, but it also continues to reinforce the fact that the financial services industry is lagging behind other industries as it relates to customer experience. If the financial services industry continues to ignore this reality, they will ultimately lose the trust and loyalty of their customers.
The challenge to deliver better customer experiences, is a deep rooted problem I see with many financial service clients. It typically starts with a lack of clear ownership and accountability for customer experience. The responsibility for customer experience is spread across departments and distribution groups resulting in a very inconsistent overall customer experience. For example, the marketing department thinks about customer experience differently than the customer service department, and the life insurance division has a different approach to customer experience than the mutual fund division. Ultimately, a customer wants a singular experience with a brand. For example, a Disney customer wants the Disney experience whether that is at Epcot or the Magic Kingdom. An Amazon customer wants the same experience when buying a book or a TV. There are multiple benefits of having a clear owner of the over-arching customer experience for financial service companies. One, it elevates customer segmentation above simple product or distribution group level segmentation approaches. Customer segmentation can be based on higher order financial needs for customers versus specific product needs. This enables companies to develop customer experience strategies that address broader customer needs and allows them to introduce solutions from across their product portfolio. (See David Dorian’s blog titled What Does Customer Centricity Mean To a Financial Services Customer). If companies adopted this kind of approach, they would never miss an opportunity like Tax Day to engage their customers. Secondly, an owner of customer experience would also ensure that the brand promise would be delivered consistently across organizational siloes. It would eliminate the “inside-out” view of customers that is so prevalent in financial services, and drive a more “outside-in” understanding of customers’ needs.
I have been working closely with Tahzoo’s Insights group to gain a deeper understanding of customers’ needs and their views on money, and I look forward to sharing this with our financial services clients to help them improve their customer experiences. Tahzoo doesn’t want any client to miss an opportunity to engage their customers with helpful and relevant information. We want to help Americans “get their billions back”, by helping our clients improve their customers’ financial situation.
Check out “New Ways To Gain Insights On Millennials’ Relationships To Financial Services” to learn about Tahzoo’s innovative approach to understanding customers.