How Social Media is Revolutionising Customer Relationships for Financial Services
By Chris Andrew, Managing Director – Europe at Hearsay Social
Technology and the Internet have changed the way people research and consume goods and services. The first wave of the digital era was largely about replacing human capital, including sales people, with self-service websites. The travel industry provides an example of this fundamental shift. Before the emergence of the digital era, consumers relied almost exclusively on travel agents to book flights and hotels. The Internet provided a new channel for consumers to purchase travel and dealt a major blow to the business model of travel agencies. In financial services, the likes of Etrade and TD Direct all but eliminated the need for low value-add stockbrokers who “just executed orders.” Many industries that offer highly commoditised goods and services suffered similar fates due to automation via the web.
However, for products and services that are more complicated, there is a strong desire for a focus on education and building a relationship with a trusted advisor. Examples are retirement planning, mortgage advisory, robust financial planning, and commercial insurance. To build long-term relationships during these complex sales, the expectations around expertise and customer knowledge are of paramount importance. Customer-centricity is more than a corporate buzzword – it’s an approach that starts with context and consideration for how an organisation’s employees interact and respond to individuals, and social media is changing this customer relationship irrevocably.
Instead of replacing human capital, the social media era is about enhancing human capital. But how is social media revolutionising customer relationships in the financial services industry? Here are three key benefits to what we refer to as ‘social selling’:
1. Establish credibility.
In financial services, the advisor or representative is often the key decision-maker for a consumer. This new breed of customer wants to be an active part of the decision-making process. Before walking into an office or picking up the phone, they do their own research. There is an implicit expectation that financial advisors should be discoverable online and should be opinion leaders in their field. A static web page isn’t enough these days, but a strong social media presence can provide dynamic information and the credibility that customers both want and need in the social era.
The best social salespeople build out their online presence by being authentic, easy to relate to and by sharing relevant experience via social profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook & Twitter. It would enhance credibility if an advisor that typically serves teachers is connected to a group of teachers online and actively participates in social groups that include teachers as members. Connecting to customers and participating in relevant LinkedIn groups is one example of providing personal credibility to target customers.
2. Deliver highly personalised service.
Delivering a personalised service is a key component of what differentiates one financial advisor from the next. In this new paradigm of connectedness, customers expect more from salespeople than they did previously. Today’s consumers expect their representatives to do their homework, and reach out with personalised messages at exactly the right time.
As it turns out, the type of information that people share on social networks can provide financial advisors with valuable context to reach out to customers when they are most in need of service.
For example, people are very unlikely to purchase life insurance when they are single. But, when they get married, or start a family, they realise they need to plan for the future. This is why social networks have become a treasure trove of data. Listening to social activity can lead to more effective conversations, thereby increasing sales productivity.
3. Build a long-term relationship. Like the salesperson, today’s customers are also doing their own research. With complex and expensive products to choose between, the research and buying period can be lengthy. Social media provides a channel for financial representatives to demonstrate expertise and ‘nurture’ prospects by passively providing relevant content. Sharing thought leadership and subject matter expertise in a low-touch manner can keep a representative front of mind, without the intrusiveness of a cold call, email or unwanted direct mail. A professional profile, along with the right content at the right time demonstrates expertise and knowledge of what it takes to build trust in a natural, social way. Successful sales people stay relevant by regularly sharing helpful tips and news about the topics that matter to their audience.
Chris Andrew is the Managing Director – Europe at Hearsay Social. He has a background in Product Management and spent 3 years helping to build Hearsay Social’s relationship-focused social sales product. Most recently he has taken on the opportunity to expand the company’s European activities, supporting both global and European customers as they establish and scale social sales programs. Hearsay Social is the leading enterprise social sales and marketing platform for Fortune 100 banks, insurance companies, and retail organizations including AXA, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Allstate, Northwestern Mutual, and Zurich Financial.
For more information, please contact:
Atomic PR on behalf of Hearsay Social
[email protected] / +44 207 025 7513
U.S. inauguration turns poet Amanda Gorman into best seller
WASHINGTON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The president’s poet woke up a superstar on Thursday, after a powerful reading at the U.S. inauguration catapulted 22-year-old Amanda Gorman to the top of Amazon’s best-seller list.
Hours after Gorman’s electric performance at the swearing-in of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, her two books – neither out yet – topped Amazon.com’s sales list.
“I AM ON THE FLOOR MY BOOKS ARE #1 & #2 ON AMAZON AFTER 1 DAY!” Gorman, a Los Angeles resident, wrote on Twitter.
Gorman’s debut poetry collection ‘The Hill We Climb’ won top spot in the online retail giant’s sale charts, closely followed by her upcoming ‘Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem’.
While poetry’s popularity is on the up, it remains a niche market and the overnight adulation clearly caught Gorman short.
“Thank you so much to everyone for supporting me and my words. As Yeats put it: ‘For words alone are certain good: Sing, then’.”
Gorman, the youngest poet in U.S. history to mark the transition of presidential power, offered a hopeful vision for a deeply divided country in Wednesday’s rendition.
“Being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we step into and how we repair it,” Gorman said on the steps of the U.S. Capitol two weeks after a mob laid siege and following a year of global protests for racial justice.
“We will not march back to what was. We move to what shall be, a country that is bruised, but whole. Benevolent, but bold. Fierce and free.”
The performance stirred instant acclaim, with praise from across the country and political spectrum, from the Republican-backing Lincoln Project to former President Barack Obama.
“Wasn’t @TheAmandaGorman’s poem just stunning? She’s promised to run for president in 2036 and I for one can’t wait,” tweeted former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
A graduate of Harvard University, Gorman says she overcame a speech impediment in her youth and became the first U.S. National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017.
She has now joined the ranks of august inaugural poets such as Robert Frost and Maya Angelou.
Her social media reach boomed, with her tens of thousands of followers ballooning into a Twitter fan base of a million-plus.
“I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise! Brava Brava, @TheAmandaGorman! Maya Angelou is cheering—and so am I,” tweeted TV host Oprah Winfrey.
Gorman’s books are both due out in September.
Third on Amazon’s best selling list was another picture book linked to politics and projecting hope: ‘Ambitious Girl’ by Vice-President Kamala Harris’ niece, Meena Harris.
(Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi, Editing by Lyndsay Griffiths. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)
Why brands harnessing the power of digital are winning in this evolving business landscape
By Justin Pike, Founder and Chairman, MYPINPAD
Delivery of intuitive, secure, personalised, and frictionless user experiences has long been table stakes in digital commerce, well before the era of COVID-19. As businesses harness the revolutionary power of digital technologies, they have pursued large-scale change to adapt to evolving consumer preferences (some more successfully than others, but that’s a blog for another day). Digital transformation is a term we hear repeatedly, and it looks different for each organisation, but essentially, it’s about utilising technology and data to digitise, automate, innovate and improve processes and the customer experience across the entire business.
As I said, this was already well underway but then came 2020 and no industry escaped the disruption of the coronavirus outbreak, which has had an indelible impact on businesses performance, operations, and revenue. Regardless of whether the impact of COVID has been very positive or very challenging, it has forced organisations globally to re-evaluate and re-orient strategies to adapt.
As lockdowns and pandemic-related restrictions continue to change daily life, this raises the question of how we can balance a dramatic shift to digital and the benefits it brings, while ensuring business continuity and innovation both during and post-COVID, and protecting everyone against fraud?
Digital is an essential survival tool, and even more so in a COVID world
No one could have predicted the dramatic digital pivot that has taken place over this year. Indeed, within weeks of the COVID outbreak cash usage in the UK dropped by around 50%. Digital solutions including delivery applications, contactless payments, mobile commerce, online and mobile banking have become essential components of a touchless customer experience in the era of social distancing. It’s no longer just about an enhanced and superior customer experience, it’s also about health, safety and survival.
In store, businesses have benefited from contactless payments enabling faster throughput and reduced need for consumers to touch payment terminals (therefore requiring greater cleaning, which degrades the hardware much faster). Mastercard reported a 40% increase in contactless payments – including tap-to-pay and mobile pay – during the first quarter of the year as the global pandemic worsened. Digital has also become an essential sales channel for many B2C brands. Where brick and mortar stores have been required to close, digital commerce enables continuity of customer relationships and revenue. This channel also provides brands with rich customer data, which can be used to enhance and personalise the customer experience and typically results in greater levels of engagement and uplifts in revenue.
Industry forecasts estimate that worldwide spending on the technologies and services enabling digital transformation will reach GBP 1.8 trillion in 2023 – a clear indication that the process represents a long-term investment and a global commitment to digital-first strategy. The key point here is that digital brings significant benefits, and regardless of COVID, is here to stay.
The challenges that rapid digital transformation brings to businesses
Regardless of whether businesses are operating in developed or less-developed economies, these times of crisis have levelled the playing field in the sense that all businesses are facing similar issues. Access to products and supplies, maintaining customer relationships, accelerating sales for some and declining sales for others, health and hygiene are just a few of the unique challenges brought about by COVID.
Many businesses in physical environments have had to swiftly implement changes to significantly reduce safety risks for staff and customers, such as contactless payments, mobile ordering and delivery options. But with these changes come a host of other benefits of digitisation, such as faster transactions, and reduced human error at the point-of-sale.
The reliance on technology, however, can also expose organisations and consumers to certain vulnerabilities. In particular, the risks of fraud and cybercrime have dramatically increased since the onset of the pandemic as scammers have taken advantage of digital technologies to target both businesses and individuals.
As a McKinsey report illustrates, new levels of sophistication in the activities of fraudsters have placed more pressure on companies that have been previously slow to go digital, bringing “into sharp relief how vulnerable companies really are”, and damaging the financial health of small and large businesses. In fact, the Bottomline 2020 Business Payments Barometer reveals that only one in 10 small businesses across the UK report recovering more than 50% of losses due to fraud.
But take these stats with a grain of salt. While it is important to be aware of the risks and challenges this new business landscape brings, it’s equally as important to have a lens firmly across your own business, industry and audience, and to identify the changes you can make internally to mitigate risk as well as improve your customer experience. Where can you make some quick wins? Do you have the right skillsets internally to achieve what you need to achieve? What technology is out there that will enable your business goals? There are tech companies like MYPINPAD that are making huge strides in software development, which will transform businesses globally.
A digital world post-COVID
Almost a year in, the line between business success and failure remains fragile. However, an ongoing transition towards greater digitisation will be the difference between survival and the alternative.
There is a wide range of initiatives businesses can implement to weather this storm. If we look at the space MYPINPAD operates within, secure digital consumer authentication is crucial to the ongoing success and security of not only financial products but also identification and verification across a range of different industry verticals. Shifting the authentication of consumers securely onto mobile devices enables businesses to completely reshape their customer experiences. By bringing together a more seamless, frictionless customer experience, accessibility, privacy, security and access to consumer data, businesses are able to drive digital transformation across day-to-day activities.
Against this backdrop, software with stronger security standards continue to play an ever more vital role in supporting society, protecting consumers and businesses from the increase in risks that rapid digitisation brings. Already, merchants can deploy PIN on Mobile technology from companies like MYPINPAD, onto their smart devices to speed up the digitisation process many are now tackling.
Essentially, opening up universal payments and authentication methods that feel familiar, for both online and face-to-face transactions, will be key to opening up a world of possibilities when it comes to redefining how businesses engage with consumers.
Brexit responsible for food supply problems in Northern Ireland, Ireland says
LONDON (Reuters) – Food supply problems in Northern Ireland are due to Brexit because there are now a certain amount of checks on goods going between Britain and Northern Ireland, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said.
British ministers have sought to play down the disruption of Brexit in recent days.
“The supermarket shelves were full before Christmas and there are some issues now in terms of supply chains and so that’s clearly a Brexit issue,” Coveney told ITV.
The Northern Irish protocol means there are “a certain amount of checks on goods coming from GB into Northern Ireland and that involves some disruption,” he said.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Tom Hogue)
Top 8 Tax Scams to Watch Out For
It is tax time and that means finding the best way to file your taxes and to get a refund...
CEO Hisham Itani and Resource Group Recognized in the 2020 Global Banking & Finance Awards®
Global Banking & Finance Review has awarded Hisham Itani the Chairman and CEO of Resource Group, Technology CEO of the...
Euro zone business activity shrank in January as lockdowns hit services
By Jonathan Cable LONDON (Reuters) – Economic activity in the euro zone shrank markedly in January as lockdown restrictions to...
Volkswagen’s profit halves, but deliveries recovering
BERLIN (Reuters) – Volkswagen reported a nearly 50% drop in its 2020 adjusted operating profit on Friday but said car...
Global chip shortage hits China’s bitcoin mining sector
By Samuel Shen and Alun John SHANGHAI/HONG KONG (Reuters) – A global chip shortage is choking the production of machines...
Iran’s oil exports rise ‘significantly’ despite sanctions, minister says
DUBAI/LONDON (Reuters) – Iran’s oil exports have climbed in recent months and its sales of petroleum products to foreign buyers...
Nissan to source more UK batteries as part of Brexit deal ‘opportunity’
By Costas Pitas LONDON (Reuters) – Nissan will source more batteries from Britain to avoid tariffs on electric cars after...
Muted recovery for UK retailers in December ends worst year on record
By David Milliken and Andy Bruce LONDON (Reuters) – British retailers struggled to recover in December from a partial coronavirus...
Chinese phone maker Honor partners with key chip suppliers after Huawei split
By David Kirton SHENZHEN, China (Reuters) – Chinese budget phone maker Honor said on Friday it had signed partnerships with...
Oil down $1 as China COVID-19 cases trigger clampdowns
By Noah Browning LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices fell on Friday, retreating further from 11-month highs hit last week, weighed...