For Every Action, A Smart Reaction

How everyday, everywhere access to membership is changing the nature of product and service recommendations.

 
 

What do you get when you combine “Fight Club,” “The Fifth Element,” and “Orange Is The New Black”? Well, according to the predictive Recommended for Aaron section of my Netflix account, you could get anything from “Swamp People” to — God forbid — “Keeping Up With The Kardashians.”

That’s not to say making targeted recommendations is easy. In fact, even that all-seeing Eye of Sauron called Facebook has had to make significant changes to its ad strategy in order to better identify all the various external factors and behaviors that could draw someone to one product and repel them from another. 

Credit unions in particular face a number of additional challenges in uncovering these traits and successfully recommending a likely next-best product or solution to their members.

For one, financial products are usually either incentivized or selected out of necessity, never procured out of boredom or curiosity like something from an Amazon recommendation list. Two, financial products have a much longer — and at the same time shorter — period of relevance than other goods and services.

That’s because consumers may unintentionally trigger certain beacons that could signify intent to get a loan or open an additional account for months or even years without action. But that can also change in a heartbeat when an unforeseen variant — such as a new job, a totaled vehicle, a new addition to the family, or a dream house that won’t be on the market long — arises.

And it’s only then, in that specific window, that such offers suddenly become relevant.

Historically, unless these individuals actually brought such information to their financial institution’s attention, there was little chance for that business to be involved in the decision-making process. But today, thanks to evolving mobile technology trends and a culture of increasing consumer openness, credit unions can finally see these crucial behavior shifts right as they happen.

For example, because every smartphone-toting member now essentially has a GPS in their pocket, a good mobile geofencing strategy could allow you to know immediately when your member walks into a car dealership — a physical move that signals undeniable interest if not outright intent.

Other possibilities exist as well. What about geofencing the home improvement store, where visits could signal the need for a loan for small-dollar projects or even a HELOC to fund more major renovations? There are also college campuses, where members could receive notifications about student loan options and student-oriented accounts the first few times they ping these locations. And yet another option could be the leasing offices of apartments or model homes at new communities.

There’s certainly a privacy line to consider with these evolving direct contact options. But as consumers flock to web services like If This Then That (or IFTTT) — which allows individuals to set up triggers that, once activated, create specified reactions in nearly any corner of the digital world — it’s clear that people do appreciate such technology when it helps them help themselves.

By broadening the specificity and control that members have over your mobile alerts system — in tandem with a geofencing strategy that favors relevance and quality over quantity — credit unions may soon be able to connect with members in the times and places where they are needed the most. 

 
 

June 13, 2014


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