Belgian banks often appear locked in a loveless marriage with their customers. In the second article in a three-part analysis of Accenture’s Market Pulse Survey 2018, we reveal what banks can do to turn the relationship into one that engages and enthuses customers.

Belgian banks might be in a loveless marriage with their customers, but the bond between them is far from doomed. There are several steps they can take in their relationship counselling to rescue and revive the relationship, invigorating it up so that both sides feel it has a new energy.

While first part of our analysis of Accenture’s Market Pulse Survey 2018, showed how the relationship between Belgian banks and their customers has become stale, this part will look at how to deal with it.

So, what can banks do to keep the relationship fresh and fun?

Firstly, they need to recognise two almost conflicting demands. The first is the desire for digital technologies like online and mobile banking, which are simple and convenient. The second is that, people still appreciate customer service and personalized advice, especially when it comes to big money decisions like mortgages. How banks blend these two – making the most out of digital while reintroducing the human element – will be explored in a separate article.

Learn from the Love Index

Banks don’t only need to meet these new customer expectations to connect better with their customers but they also need to differentiate from their competitors.

To understand how, FJORD, part of Accenture Interactive, produced a special tool to measure the relationship between brands and customers: the Love Index.

Banks do not prioritize creating Fun and Social experiences

The Love Index shows how there is more than one key to a healthy romance. In fact, we found five dimensions for measuring customers' feelings toward a brand experience. These are:

  • Fun: it holds people’s attention in an entertaining way
  • Relevant: it provides clear and customized information
  • Engaging: it identifies with individual needs and wants
  • Social: it connects people with each other
  • Helpful: it is efficient, easy and adapts over time

Yes, banks have personalities that connect with their customers’ ones!

Brands have a lot of scope to differentiate across those dimensions. Our Love Index maps out how this can happen. With customers seeing money as a serious matter - sometimes a source of tension and worry - the Love Index emphasises that banks focus mainly on being recognized as Helpful, Relevant and Engaging. However, they do not tend to prioritize making their experiences Fun and Social – but that could be a fatal oversight. If your brand does not represent your customer’s values and beliefs anymore you are at great risk of losing them, and like in a marriage it’s all part of the mix: fun and social experiences are a key part.

Some Belgian banks seem to perform better across the Love Index, including the Fun and Social experience. What are these front runners doing right? While our data does not look at what particular brands are doing, but rather how their brand is perceived, there are some attributes that stand out. For example, one of the banks perceived as highly social in the Love Index also scores high satisfaction rates on their customer service, offering of personalized advice and branch experience. What this means for banks is that by identifying their personality traits, just like individuals have, banks can take concrete measures to differentiate and deeply connect with their customers.

There are already signs that the market could be disrupted

Newcomers are gaining footholds

Are these measures changing the banking market? There are already signs that it could be disrupted, with some newcomers succeeding in gaining a foothold and luring customers away from the established brands.

And that is before we even get to foreign competitors: some of the biggest innovations are in China or the US, where the GAFA or BATX of this world, are exploring ways to disrupt the banking industry. Again, they combine a deep bond with their customer base to offer financial services that are aligned with their lifestyle – and they have succeeded in winning customers.

So what is the message from all this? Belgians do have a marriage-like relationship with their banks. But this marriage is facing the challenges that will be familiar to anyone in a real-life romance. The marriages that last the longest are the ones that keep their sense of fun, relevance, engagement, communication and support. They are the ones that understand how to reinvent themselves every day to become a living business.