Written by Laura Andersen on March 29, 2016
in Financial Marketing, Strategic Marketing

Despite its description as “snarketing,” Ron Shevlin’s message in “Does It Really Matter What Retail Banking Consumers Want?” is on point.

Of course we care about what our customers and members want, but are we doing ourselves and our customers a disservice by paying inordinate attention to what they tell us they want, as opposed to what their behavior tells us?

As humans, we like to believe we’re rational beings. We tell ourselves we make important decisions based on collecting factual information from reliable sources, evaluating the benefits and risks and making the selection that serves our current and future interests best.

However, evidence suggests that this isn’t always the case. Research shows that humans have a preference for immediacy and are ill-equipped to make rational long-term decisions. We’re more likely driven by subconscious biases, many of which “operate quickly, effortlessly, and outside of our awareness,” as this Yale University report shows.

When we ask people what influences their decision-making in banking, they often share what they wish were the case, and sometimes even believe is the case. These results tend to be non-specific and non-actionable. They’re not providing insight into the why, but merely the what.

According to survey results in Shevlin’s article, 86% of banking consumers in the U.S. say they want “responsive customer service.” Of course they do. That’s a pretty basic necessity in today’s consumer-driven world. But what can we do with this information? One hundred respondents could have selected that option for 100 different reasons.

Behavioral data and ethnographic research can be used to uncover how a simple desire such as this manifests uniquely by individuals and scenarios. For instance, responsive customer service is going to be perceived differently by someone calling to make a transfer versus someone who’s discovered they’ve been a victim of identity theft.

If the transfer isn’t executed perfectly, the customer will be annoyed, but likely won’t make any big decisions based on their dissatisfaction. The victim of identity theft, something with more serious repercussions, is at greater risk of switching if the case isn’t resolved quickly and completely.

Quantitative data does a great job of pointing us in the right direction of what to improve or where to innovate, but does little to highlight what meaningful change might look like. By getting to know the humanity behind the data, in all its messy irrationality, we can turn this information into actionable insights that positively impact customer experiences.

Laura Andersen is the Lead Financial Marketing Strategist at Bluespire Marketing, Ariad’s sister agency. Originally posted on the Bluespire Blog.

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