At the end of October, Juntos hosted a range of partners and other industry leaders at our San Carlos Headquarters for our first Digital Engagement Summit. Over the course of two days, a diverse group discussed common challenges and best practices for building strong customer relationships around the world. The group brought a truly global perspective: attendees traveled from countries such as Zambia, South Africa, Colombia, and Jamaica to join the conversation.

It’s impossible to boil down all the rich insights and ideas from two days into one short blog post, but we’ll do our best! Here are a few themes that stuck out:

  • Relationships, not just transactions, need to become digital – Mobile banking has obviously increased the ease and convenience of using formal financial services. Customer trust and loyalty, though, were left behind in the branch for many. As people navigate digital financial products, the institutions that serve them need to find a way to rebuild meaningful relationships. Touchpoints pushing promotions and transactional notifications alone are not enough.
  • Put blinders on, and find the practical value in AI – There is tons of hype around AI, and for good reason. It has the potential to dramatically increase efficiency and inform better decisions. It can automate responses to FAQs and save costs. AI cannot, however, build relationships with people on its own. By augmenting AI techniques like machine learning with automation and human intelligence, financial institutions can take a wholistic approach to engaging its customers that feels personal and natural.
  • Invest in customer journeys, not just moments – Trust takes time. It is built up in the accumulation of small moments over the course of months or years. Optimizing individual campaigns or messages is important, but pales in comparison to the value of having ongoing, warm, and empathetic conversations with your customers.
  • Listen for the whispers before you hear shouts – If you sit back on your heels and wait for customers to make themselves heard, you probably won’t hear them until they’re shouting at you. Instead, be proactive and encourage feedback. Ask customers if their accounts are working for them. Offer important information, even if they don’t go out of their way to ask for it.
  • Let your customer inform your design – It’s tempting to assume you understand your customers and can design products and communications for them better than anyone. Try not to get caught in that trap. Your customers know themselves better than you do, so let them inform your decisions. Constantly test and prototype new ideas with your customers, and force their behavior to guide design.
  • Use mobile channels your customers are already comfortable in – Moving customers from a branch or agent into the mobile app is a big leap. To help them cross that chasm, communicate with them in mobile channels they’re already using and comfortable with. Conversations via SMS and WhatsApp, for example, can serve as great bridges between the physical and digital banking worlds.

The group visited the Stanford to learn about human-centered design principles.

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