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Technology

Bridging the digital divide in client engagement

Bridging the digital divide in client engagement

Matt Ryan

By Matt Ryan, Chief Transformation Officer at Reef

For some time now, we’ve all been operating in both a physical and digital world. However, in the financial industry, there is still a divide between these for firms. Too many financial services (FS) organisations and institutions have not streamlined their face-to-face operations, whether working with clients or meeting prospective investors, and their digital engagement efforts, including, company social media channels or webinars.

So how can this divide be bridged? I’ll explore how the latest audience engagement technology can provide the key for FS firms to create online and offline experiences that genuinely drive engagement. Let’s dive in…

Defining client engagement

Client engagement is the lifeblood of any successful organisation. Essentially, it’s about both building and then maintaining relationships with clients and customers. It’s an ongoing interaction between a company and its desired audience, where both parties communicate, exchange information, and derive mutual value.

Whereas this was a traditional face-to-face activity, since the realm of digital, these interactions extend into digital now. From in-person meetings, social media channels, webinars, or other online frequencies, effective client engagement depends on meaningful interactions that cultivates trust, loyalty, and satisfaction.

From in-person to virtual 

When engaging with clients today, diversity is the key. As we’ve covered, face-to-face meetings are no longer the primary mode of interaction. Now, many firms utilise a variety of channels to engage with their clients, each serving a unique purpose and catering to different preferences.

Of course, in-person remains invaluable for FS firms to build trust and personal connections – whether it’s a consultation with a financial advisor or a pitch meeting with potential investors, the ability to have real-time, in-person conversations fosters a deeper level of understanding and rapport.

From a digital perspective, social media platforms have emerged as very effective tools for client engagement. Most firms utilise LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram to share news and insights, interact with clients, and showcase their expertise and innovation. It is through engaging content and active participation in online conversations where firms can both humanise their brand and establish deeper connections with their intended audience. Webinars too represent another effective means of client engagement, fostering engagement and knowledge sharing.

Overcoming the pitfalls of digital engagement

In a digital age where personalisation is king, FS firms can no longer afford to take a one size fits all approach to client engagement. Generic sales funnels and mass emailers do not resonate with today’s discerning clients who expect experiences tailored to their needs and preferences.

Another pitfall to avoid is that too often, FS firms focus solely on transactions, neglecting the importance of building genuine, long-lasting relationships with their clients. In a digital age, organisations must prioritise relationship-building efforts that extend beyond the point of sale.

Finally, personalisation is a necessity in today’s digital landscape, but many firms still fall short when it comes to customising their client engagement strategies. For example, while some might fail to leverage customer data to deliver targeted content, others might be offering generic solutions that fail to address individual needs. Either way, a lack of customisation can turn clients off completely, or at the very least hinder engagement efforts.

Technology plays a pivotal role

The latest modern day technology exemplifies a ‘high-tech, high-touch‘ approach, leveraging cutting-edge technology to facilitate meaningful interactions between firms and their clients: successful technology is that which shapes human experience.

A good example of this is social media. It has fundamentally restructured the way we meet and converse with humans, as well as consume news and popular culture. Today’s FS firms aren’t all tech firms but they build a stack of tech through which to interact with clients: website, emails, etc. While many know they ‘need’ to do this, it is those firms that embrace the high-tech, high-touch paradigm that will create their tech stack more consciously, not only using and staying abreast of the latest technology but using it in a way that communicates directly with potential clients that addresses their needs. For example, feeling that the organisation they are doing business with has the knowledge and expertise to give them what they need. That is something that the high-tech, high-touch modality is well suited for.

The digital and physical divide is shrinking…omnichannel solutions are the requirement 

Those FS firms that adopt a complete digital and physical approach to client engagement will be best placed to thrive in the future. By prioritising customisation, personalisation, and the integration of cutting-edge technology, businesses can bridge the gap between online and offline engagement, delivering value to their clients at every touchpoint.

Global Banking & Finance Review

 

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