To be able to act on a financial decision, consumers must have a certain level of knowledge about the subject – enough to ask a particular question or questions.

Financial tools are often limited in providing an experience that compels individuals to act. There’s a clear connection between their understanding and willingness to take control. Unless they force themselves to understand the basics, they will not know how to best be prepared to financially manage their life.

A person’s finances are complex and emotional so financial experiences need to be simple, visual and engaging. Be it online, on an app, or even in a branch, when a financial experience meets these 3 criteria, customers are better positioned to understand the financial products being presented. Confidence builds and the customer is empowered to make a choice, but do they have enough momentum to reach out for expert help or to fulfill on an offer?

For consumers, experience is everything. The better the financial experience, the more likely they will actively engage with the financial offering.

Customer empowerment is about building a sense of trust and confidence in one’s opportunities such that they feel ready to make a purchase. Window shopping consumers have the temptation to purchase a product – why else would they be on your site? When financial institutions craft an experience, the goal should always be to move the customer forward from curiosity to desire. This is accomplished primarily through education, autonomy, and empowerment.

You can apply this same mentality to your customer service. Financial professionals have to empower their clients – it’s about putting themselves on the same side of the table and offering a compelling pitch that is simple, visual, and engaging. Creating a conversation with relevant, personalized content that builds a deeper sense of trust and empowerment will offer a more fruitful relationship.

Even if you are a wholesaler selling directly to an advisor, a great tool will demonstrate to your customers why your products suit their needs and their client’s needs, and how your brand differentiates itself from the rest. Simple, visual, engaging. This is the magic formula that we at BLUERUSH use to drive conversions.

Looking at a Few Examples

Let’s look at the most common financial experience deployed to customers: calculators. BLUERUSH has seen a surge in calculator modernization projects because more and more businesses understand the value of these tools to establish a sense of authority with potential customers. Our clients use their calculators as a piece of marketing content. We create the calculator based on this criterion with lead generation tactics in mind and use the tool as an opportunity to promote financial products.

Using a small, mid, and large sized company as reference (so as to be unbiased), I will evaluate the calculator experience through the lens of simple, visual, and engaging.

  • Large – Wells Fargo
  • Mid – CenterState Bank
  • Small – LegacyTexas

1) Wells Fargo – Mortgage Calculator

Here is a straight-forward rate and payment calculator.

For a simple product like mortgages, price is king. I’m given an interest rate and monthly payment amount. Now I’m more inclined to shop around given the limited incentive to stay, listen, and convert.

This calculator is simple. Visually, it lacks dynamism and it’s hardly captivating. As a customer, this may incite me to research Wells Fargo further, but if I see a more interesting graph on a competitor website with the same mortgage rate, there’s very little reason for me to continue to stick with Wells Fargo.

Here’s another one:

2) CenterState Bank – Mortgage Calculator

First question that comes to mind: what does this calculator have to do with CenterState? Also is this 2003? There is a disconnect between what the brand represents and the tool’s experiential value being offered. Similar to above, I’m left on my own to interpret the graph, leaving misinterpretation of data a likely outcome, and limited incentive to follow-through with the bank. In terms of customer service, this offering is poor although if you just need a simple calculator, it will suffice. But why would a business invest in a simple calculator when the client-generating benefits can be so much more?

3) LegacyTexas – Vehicle Payment Calculator

Visually speaking, this does a good job. Interactive sliders offer options to quickly customize. The tool tells me I do indeed need to save, I’m not exactly being told how to do it or what kind of services and products by LegacyTexas can help me achieve my goal. Again, I’m stuck and left alone. You’ve also now forced me to do work by making me think rather than educating or engaging. Given the time and effort put into this tool, the pay-off should be larger.

Result: Digital financial tools treated the experience as just a calculator, rather than as a content marketing asset to drive conversions.

Some of these calculators are not as graphically heavy as others, and some are off the shelf while others are not. We’ve seen that interactivity is one of the driving factors in improving customers’ understanding of their finances, so these calculators are a decent start, yet the central point is still the same: the conversation stops here.

The BLUERUSH philosophy extends the relationship. Using the calculator as an initial conversation piece, we find ways to elevate the tool to capture the user. For example, our calculators drive users to advisors, or at the very least to a Learn More or Sign Up page based on the specific information provided. Simplifying and personalizing this aspect of the customer journey turns prospects into clients.

Take a look at Voya Financial’s Orange Money Retirement Calculator. Functionally speaking, it doesn’t differ that much from the other calculators, but the brand is solidly represented and by making better use of visual cues, the user is more aware of the gap in their retirement.

This is more than just a calculator – this is a digital experience that educates the user, and pushes for conversions. This is a tool in the company’s pocket expertly designed to incite offer fulfillment and customer retention.

Here is another example by Prudential: a retirement calculator. By allowing the user to modify contribution amounts and dates in various combinations, they can become active in their financial planning, and envision that activity through a partnership with Prudential.

A calculator is not just something that spits out numbers – it tells each customer a story about their financial future, and a story should have a key takeaway regarding how that customer can meet their financial goal. If you’re trying to convert your customers, aside from providing a generally good online experience, your business should be illustrating how to achieve their goals through your organization.

Calculators Need to do More Than Just Calculate

There’s been evidence to suggest, and our own experience supports this as well, that “mortgage calculator” is one of the top ranked search terms in financial marketing. Customers want calculator tools to speak to them, be personalized to them, and include relevant information that helps them map out their finances.

So when financial digitization is putting even more pressure to differentiate and add value beyond the product, why do so many financial institutions neglect to nurture the flow of conversation?

Financial services built its reputation on being primarily transactional. I need a loan or a credit card or some product, I follow-through on your process, and I get what I need. If I need additional help like financial advice, I’ll speak with your advisor through your service model.

Calculators flagrantly disregard this model, and quite often do not meet the simple, visual, and engaging benchmarks. This is why BLUERUSH supplements the calculator methodology with marketing and sales practices. We design a digital solution that caters to the consumer’s needs and offers them a product that can help.

Once a customer gets a set of recommendations from a calculator, they should be driven to learn more, thereby prompting the progress of the buyer journey. These options are often absent or underwhelmingly represented in calculator experiences because they assume the user has enough understanding and willingness to move forward without accounting for the significant degree of complexity, emotion, and stress.

Take it Up a Notch: Video Bots and Personalized Videos

Consider this example: a simple retirement calculator.

Now count the bits of information.

How long did it take you to read the results section?

Now imagine a video that mimics the advisor experience, that summarizes your information into simple, digestible pieces, gives you animated visuals to keep your attention, and is centered around educating and building trust through relationships rather than marketing. Simple, visual, and engaging lives in personalized videos.

Video is an effective medium for engaging users and has a proven track record of creating conversions that stick – especially with digitally native millennials who expect nothing less than tailored custom digital experiences. Our clients have seen higher conversion rates when video is introduced into the formula. Furthermore, millennials are accustomed to the most sophisticated digital content to date, and in order to convert and retain their website patronage; your online experience needs to be up to snuff.

Take this a step further and engage with patrons during the video, such as an interactive call-to-action. Maybe there is something that they would like to learn more about, such as alternative recommendations to suit their lifestyle? A basic tool may tell you, but it certainly won’t explain it in real time the way video can.

See the complete formula operate in real time here: http://www.bluerush.com/en/digital-retirement-expert/

Take it Up a Notch: Chat Bots

Chatbots are well positioned for simpler discussions, and advanced models offer the opportunity to explain key points.

“Tell me, if I need to save your suggested amount of $34,322 annually, is there a plan I can also set up to pay off my mortgage sooner?” The chatbot has evolved from a simple FAQ feed to something far more interactive. Advanced chat bots can interpret data supplied by the user and provide a comprehensive educational response based on the FIs rates, positioning, and current product offerings.

When Things Get Too Complex – Speak with an Advisor

The industry has shown that advisors are increasingly busy and customers have growing expectations regarding e-channel communications. Financial literacy is overall poor, so digital financial experiences need to focus on customer education; empowering smarter conversations that lead to more active decision making.

How do you bridge the gap between an overworked advisor and a customer that doesn’t understand finance from a computer? You create a conduit that links the two. BLUERUSH specializes in this. We use our software to extend the reach of an advisor. Digital solutions educate customers on what’s available; thereby weeding out introductory calls that are cumbersome for the advisor. And then we create a method for advisors to stay in contact with customers, helping them along the buyer’s journey, educating them, and eventually empowering them to choose a brand or product.

Use our Take it Up a Notch suggestions to create a holistic customer experience that gives your company a competitive edge. Build a sense of trust and confidence in the consumer and a WOW factor that really converts users to your products.

Your business should provide the knowledge, resources, and products that will accomplish this. And your business should provide a relationship that supports this process.

From a financial standpoint, the best digital experience is something that mimics that best in-person experience possible: something that is knowledgeable, streamlined, unified, and which tells me what these numbers mean to me in a compelling an engaging story with subsequent resources to elaborate on or further inform the process of selecting a financial institution with which to partner.

About BLUERUSH

BLUERUSH builds technology and creative solutions that empower smarter digital financial experiences.

We are a group of financial services marketing and communications experts. Our solutions in lead generation and sales enablement help simplify and personalize digital financial experiences.

Our experts know how to navigate the compliance heavy environment of financial services to engage, empower, and educate your customers. This translates to simplified conversations that build trust and confidence in your products that lead to stronger relationships and investment in your offerings.

From offices in Virginia, Montreal, and Toronto, we have partnered with some of the largest financial services brands to create custom digital experiences using our in-house platforms all while improving business bottom lines.

If you’d like our expert opinion, contact us.

About the Author:

A scientist by training and technology geek by day, Matt has played a major role in tackling operational challenges and drilling what matters most to customers. Value is relative, and so is data. Matt finds ways to get strategy working to bring to life value to customers. Give him a shout or read his blogs to get the lay-down and know-how of customer experience

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