BAI Retail Delivery

Five Best Practices for Online Cross-Selling

Consumers expect their online banking experience to be intuitive and personalized.

October 14, 2011

Consumers don't expect a financial institution to be the next Amazon.com. But they do expect their online experience to be intuitive and personalized whether they’re banking or shopping.

That’s what Geoff Knapp, Fiserv’s vice president, online banking and consumer insights, told attendees during the Bank Administration Institute’s Retail Delivery Conference in Chicago.

He presented findings from a Fiserv white paper, “Online Banking Meets Online Buying,” alongside Nicole Sturgill, TowerGroup’s research director, delivery channels, and John Finley, senior vice president, internet channel, for Bank of the West.

McCormick Place
Attendees enjoyed a great view of Lake Michigan from McCormick Place in Chicago.

The Fiserv white paper outlines how the consumer mindset differs when banking online and buying online, and states that consumers hold financial institutions to a “higher standard.”

When it comes to online banking and online buying, consumers have fundamentally different mindsets and expectations, Knapp said. When banking online, consumers typically focus on a specific task, and they place a priority on both utility and ease of use. High levels of security and privacy also are expected.

When shopping online, consumers typically browse before they buy. Marketing messages and product pitches are expected, even welcomed. Many consumers willingly provide input on their personal preferences to receive recommendations on products of interest and share purchase wish lists.

Knowing the differences in how consumers approach online banking and online buying, no financial institution should set out to model itself after Amazon or iTunes.

However, there are a few tricks bankers can learn from online retailers in order to boost customer engagement and create cross-sell opportunities in the online channel.

Knapp outlined five best practices for online cross-selling:

1. Make it easy for users to find what they want. According to the Fiserv Consumer Insights survey, ease of use is the primary driver of satisfaction with online banking. It’s important for credit unions to make it easy to locate and accomplish specific tasks by prominently positioning frequently used online financial services.

In addition, online bankers are task-oriented and become annoyed if the flow of a task is interrupted. So financial institutions should strive to make related offers as part of the task flow or when a task is complete.

2. Offer a personalized online experience. Personalization doesn’t have to be complex. It can be as simple as providing online bankers with a personalized greeting or the ability to edit their profile and account information—areas in which the online banking experience lags the online buying experience.

3. Target the message to the right customer the right way. Present products and services to users based on their needs, rather than blanketing all customers with an offer or relying solely on sales goals to define offers.

4. Position recommendations in a helpful, friendly manner. Online retailers are adept at positioning products for cross-sales without appearing to actually advertise the products. They do so by presenting recommendations in a subtle and social manner.

Financial institutions may want to consider adding social elements to their sites to promote products and services via conversation among consumers.

5. Focus on what you know. When consumers are engaged in online banking, they’re most receptive to offers about products and services that will enhance the banking experience or that are related to financial management.

If the financial institution is helping customers save money, providing valuable financial management tools or finding ways for them to increase their assets, customers are more likely to respond and have a positive reaction.

“Consumers aren’t opposed to cross-selling within online banking, and a large percentage are receptive to offers they perceive to be targeted and relevant,” Knapp said. “The key is to enable users to conduct their banking business quickly and efficiently while leveraging marketing to deliver a more personal and valuable experience.”

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