Given all these indisputable plusses, you’d think that every fintech company would make customer service its top priority. You’d also think that these companies would see that “customer service” actually includes all stakeholders who deserve excellent treatment—employees, vendors, partners, community, shareholders, and the planet.
Put another way, treating all stakeholders with respect and caring will make everything—including the bottom line—healthier and more sustainable. It also makes for authentic and credible marketing. Just look at Costco, which proves that great customer service to all stakeholders is its best marketing, leading to long-term growth and profitability. By the way, Costco has done it for decades without a formal advertising and marketing department.
So, what will it take to make this a universal practice and commitment instead of the hit-and-miss proposition it is today?
It will take clear consequences that either send companies to the heights of growth and prosperity or relegate them to the scrap heap.
Slowly but surely, the transformation is underway. While some fintech companies wholeheartedly embrace the “do good to be great” philosophy, many are still in it to avoid negative repercussions—in every arena from reputation management to compliance crackdowns being driven chiefly by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
Here’s a tip: Do it right for the right reasons, as advocated by such worldwide movements as B Corp and socially conscious capitalism. Here are some ways that doing right by customers begets positive results in everything including the bottom line:
1. Make collections more like sales. Fintech Nexus co-founder Peter Renton advocated this two decades ago. When companies treat consumers with respect and flexibility, they’re much more likely to comply. In turn, that drives better overall portfolio performance, despite sometimes having to wait longer for moneys owed. This proved to be a valuable and enduring strategy during the pandemic when widespread financial distress mandated more flexible and human collections processes. To address these, additional communications options and capacities had to emerge so that all parties could work toward resolution efficiently. Although already in the works, communications channel avenues and bandwidths started expanding toward the omnichannel model below.
2. Deploy omnichannel customer communications. Everyone communicates differently. Make technology work to provide all possibilities so that customers can communicate in the way(s) that work best for them. Among other moves, this means making live phone support with real human beings part of the equation, always. Too many companies, in an effort to promote “efficient” channels that save them money on such endeavors as call centers, are minimizing or eliminating phone calls for support. Unlike multichannel, omnichannel includes both a wide selection of ways to communicate and focuses on providing a positive customer experience as part of the support.
When I need customer support or have an emergent security concern, the last thing I want is live chat, chatbot, email, or text via digital channels. I want an old-fashioned discussion with a real human being capable of helping solve problems via something more than canned phrases.
Some of this, of course, is now being mandated through such agencies as CFPB to “put customers in the driver’s seat.” Do it because customers should be in the driver’s seat. They are the drivers of fintech success, including positive reputations, reviews, and social media posts.
3. Show as much support after the sale as before. I was stunned recently to discover that my robust paid communications platform plan didn’t entitle me to “live phone support.” When I called the sales phone number, thinking that it was a mistake, a rep answered the call right away—then informed me that indeed no live support would be forthcoming. Given that this was a security concern, I was incensed about being “shoved” into a chatbot/live chat situation. Clearly, this company is invested in making sales. The rep was Johnny on the spot. No such luck with after-the-sale support.
Fintechs would do well to treat their customers like gold not just before but after the sale. With rapidly proliferating options, being able to get approved for an unsecured consumer loan with few questions and in no time flat is great. The follow-up support and options need to be stellar as well.
4. Build relationships based on being trusted, liked, and respected. All stakeholders, including customers, respond best to this time-honored and followed credo. It’s the way business has been done since the dawn of commerce. The chief difference today is the ability to reach and serve a much wider audience in an instant because of advanced technology. These advances, when used properly, enrich the fintech customer experience and make it much more likely that they will be loyal and long-term fans who will spread the word on steroids.
Other associated benefits of being trusted, liked, and respected are customers more likely to be trustworthy, likable, and respectful in return. Despite all of the high-torque, high-tech fintech measures out there that talk a good game of customer service, time-tested basics remain the most successful.
Once all stakeholders are being cared for in transparent and consistent ways, telling the rest of the world about it through thought leadership marketing is a logical next step to support and further drive success.
Mark is the President of Lusky Enterprises, Inc., a 40-year established marketing communications company that champions customer service-driven marketing focusing on thought leadership articles, blog posts, social media, content libraries, whitepapers, and books.