It’s the end of another Black Friday weekend, the annual event that has transformed the retail calendar and kicks off the festive shopping season for eager shoppers the world over. Below Karen Wheeler, Country Manager and Vice-President, Affinion UK, tells Finance Monthly both traditional and challenger banks could be missing an opportunity and should take inspiration from what retailers are doing during Black Friday.
In the UK alone, £1.4bn was spent on online sales in the UK on Black Friday – an increase of 11.7% on last year, according to online retailers trade body IMRG.
Given the amount of hype and expectation, it’s not surprising to see that banks are slowly waking up to how they too can be inspired by the retail world, and capitalise on this golden window of opportunity. Starling Bank, for example, was offering customers the opportunity to earn 10 per cent cashback on their online shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday (up to a total of £25) if they invite one person to join the bank with a referral code.
A missed opportunity
But aside from Starling, there are few examples of other banks experimenting with Black Friday offers, incentives and deals, and I think this is a huge missed opportunity. At a key time for consumers looking for discounts and extra value, could they be doing more to find new ways to make their customers happy, and generate goodwill and loyalty that extends beyond the Christmas period?
Of course, the understandable challenge for banks is that there is less of a natural seasonal spike for them to build momentum towards. Whilst retailers can live or die depending on their performance during the critical Christmas season, banks need to offer a consistent and engaging customer experience all year round. So how can providers give their customers the ‘Black Friday feeling’ every day of the year?
- Surprise and delight customers – What makes Black Friday a success is the sense of the anticipation and surprise that it brings. Starling’s offer is a good example of capturing the festive zeitgeist, but instead of being a one-off purchase, it’s the start of a relationship with a customer built around meeting an everyday need. For banks, the opportunity is therefore to find moments where they can offer practical, relevant solutions which help customers to manage their lives, delivered in a personalised way which makes them feel special.
- Personalisation is crucial – With reams of data available, there is no excuse for banks to make generalisations or assumptions about their customers, particularly at a time when life milestones are more fluid than ever. Barclays is doing this right, with its Life Moments proposition that lays out key considerations for events such as going to university, buying a house or having a baby – without any reference to age groups or gender. More channels and touchpoints mean more opportunity to collate data on each customer and build a picture of their lives into a ‘segment of one’, meaning every interaction should be relevant, engaging and valued.
- Think outside of the box – According to the British Banking Association, there were 19.6 million banking app users across the UK in 2016, with 159 logins occurring every second. This means banks have a huge opportunity to capitalise on this high frequency of interactions and ask themselves: how can we build on this, what more can we offer our customers? We know from our partnerships with some of the UK’s leading banks that in order to build long-term loyalty, it’s essential to provide solutions for other relevant parts of their lives to deepen the engagement.
It will be interesting to see if more banks trial Black Friday offers and promotions in the years to come. However, banks’ relationships with their customers aren’t only important during the last weekend in November.
This is why it’s crucial to find new ways to engage, surprise and delight customers throughout the year; both meeting and predicting their needs and becoming an increasingly important part of their lives to build long-term relationships and encourage loyalty.