How do you make financial services relevant?

Over the last 15 years, many industries have been disrupted by the flood of information that the internet brings – and those that have embraced it have become highly relevant to their customers.

Pre-qualify customers

Pre-qualification can make financial services more relevant

For example, in the past, people went into high street travel agencies to make hotel bookings or rang a series of hotels from postal directories. There are few customers who shop like that today. Today people choose from a myriad of websites that give them huge information about hotel quality, location, reviews, price and also, fundamentally, availability.

Winning through relevancy

With this flood of potential information from the internet, the industries that have delivered much better experiences for their customers are the ones who have succeeded in making the journeys relevant.

One example of improved relevancy, is the online search engine space, which is dominated by one company who are successful by making their results the most relevant. Another example is online auction sites, which is also dominated by one company who have been able to make their site the most ‘relevant’ by having the most buyers and sellers. And some of us even find love online, using sites that employ complex algorithms to help us find the perfect partner – again making the experience relevant.

All of these examples have something in common. They are enabled by near-ubiquitous internet access and a culture of self-service. But critically, they also provide a relevant, engaging, convenient experience in a digitally evolved world.

Quotation searches are a step in the right direction

But what about financial services? I would argue that Financial Services has moved more slowly than other sectors – but it is starting to catch up.

To keep pace with customer expectations, you need to provide services that people can access quickly and simply, through the channel of their choice. For some services, such as credit applications, though, many credit providers still have a long way to go; customers only get clarity on price and whether they can get the product at the end of the process.

In addition every time a customer makes a full application for a card or loan on a lender’s website, it leaves an unwanted record on their credit file. And if the terms of an offer fail to meet the customer’s requirements, they feel that they have wasted time providing detailed information and may be left with a negative opinion of a lender’s brand. Shopping around is penalised.

But it needn’t be that way.

Forward-looking lenders are now offering quotation searches to effectively pre-qualify customers much earlier in the application funnel. Quotation credit searches allow lenders to accurately show the interest rate and borrowing amount that could be offered to applicants and offer them products that are suitable and affordable for them.

This improves the transparency of financial products – which is a step in the right direction.

What is it that people ultimately care about?

Ultimately, people care about what they are trying to achieve – buying their new house, new kitchen, new car, or the latest mobile phone. I believe that the real winners in Financial Services (and Telecoms) will be those who make the buying experience much easier and more relevant to each person’s individual circumstances.

You can help your customers to find the right house, car or mobile phone that they can afford, using a transparent process and make the financing element something that supports the process rather than hinders.

By embracing this form of pre-qualification, you can reduce the number of steps needed to make a credit decision and save your customers time. You can also provide an experience that is relevant, convenient and transparent, and which provides your customers with what they want and need.