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Consumer trust has been a bit of a sticky wicket in the finance sector, and COVID-19 has only further gummed up the situation. In fact, a study in 2020 shows that only 29% of consumers trusted their bank to look after their long-term financial wellbeing, compared to 43% two years prior. So, how can financial institutions build brand loyalty when customers are skeptical? Customer journey maps are the answer. They’re a powerful tool that can help financial brands understand their customers and deliver exceptional (and trustworthy) service.

We’ll walk you through how to create a customer journey map that will build rapport and ultimately trust with your customers.

Customer journey maps—What are they?

Every customer has their own unique journey with your brand. To stick beside (and guide them) every step of the way means you’ll need a map to follow along. That's where customer journey mapping comes in. Customer journey maps plot the steps your customer takes to complete a task or reach a goal.

Basically, it's an outline that maps out the stages of your customer's interactions and experience with your brand, from start to finish. Customer journey maps help you break away from how you see your brand (which, let's face it, is somewhat biased) and instead see your customer's experience from their perspective.

This new perspective will help you understand what your customers need and want from your brand at each stage of their customer life cycle.

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What's so important about customer journey mapping?

"A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is." - Scott Cook, co-founder, Intuit

In the past, companies held all the power when it came to customer relations. They controlled the narrative and would dictate what their brand meant to the customer. However, that power has shifted thanks to the rise of social media and customer review platforms. Now, it's the customer who holds all the cards regarding what defines your brand.

So, how can you maintain a good rep with your customers? Make it personal.

Customers want to feel like they are recognized as individuals—not just another number in a customer database. They want to feel like their experience with a brand is personal and unique to them.

Customer Journey Maps

A Savvy Tool For A Personalized Experience

A customized and personal experience is critical to reaching today's customers. A recent study found that 84% of consumers feel that being treated like a human (rather than a number) was crucial to gaining their business. And customer journey maps are the perfect tool to help you deliver that level of intimacy.

By understanding your customers' needs and wants at each stage of their journey, you can create a personalized experience that meets them where they're at—whether they're a fledgling investor or a savvy stockholder. And when you provide a positive customer experience, you're much more likely to turn one-time buyers into lifelong fans.

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4 Steps To Create Valuable Customer Journey Maps

The customer journey is rarely as simple as moving from point A to point B. In fact, customer journeys are more like a winding road with several detours and dead ends. The good news is that you don't have to map out every single turn and twist. But, you do need to focus on the major milestones that will help your customer reach their final destination: becoming a happy customer.

Here are four steps to developing a customer journey map for your financial brand.

01—Do Your Customer Research

Every good customer strategy starts with customer research. Customer research can start with qualitative and/or quantitative data that you already have on hand. No customer data? No problem. There are plenty of customer and market research methods you can use to gather the information you need, you can:

Analyze Website Analytics

Look at your website's Google Analytics data to see how customers interact with your site. This will give you insights into what pages they're visiting, how long they stay on each page, and what actions they take. Is your 401(k) plan sign-up page not getting any views? Maybe it’s time to rethink that customer journey.

Conduct Customer Surveys and Interviews

You can use customer surveys and interviews to gauge customer satisfaction with your online tools or the banking services you offer. Not sure if your customers' needs are being met by your products? Send a survey—now easier than ever by email, SMS, QR code, or social media.

Need ideas of what to ask? Here's a few to get you started:

  • How did you hear about our brand?

  • Did you ever require customer support? If so, how helpful was it on a scale of 1 to 10?

  • Have you ever felt overwhelmed or stressed about finances?

  • What could we do to make our website easier to navigate?

  • Would you like more educational content about personal finance topics?

  • What are some things that interest you when it comes to investment opportunities?

  • Would you recommend your bank to a friend or family member? Why or why not?

Create Focus Groups

On the fence about launching a new financial service or pivoting your business? Before you press "go" on a new project, get customer feedback from a focus group. Focus groups are a great way to test out customer reactions to different messaging, offer types, and even packaging.

Practice Customer Observation

Out in the wild, your customer may behave differently than they describe on paper. Customer observation is a method to collect information directly by observing how consumers move through your brick-and-mortar store. You can also monitor customer behavior online by looking at how they interact with your website or mobile app. The unique (and valuable) part about observation) is that instead of relying on what customers say that they do, you can see exactly how they act.

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02—Create Personas To Understand Your Customers

Once you've done your research, you’ll need to define all of your customers. Create customer personas—which are semi-fictional characters that represent your ideal customer. Personas go deeper than a generalized idea of your customers. They're highly detailed to help you understand your target customer intimately, so you can create content, products, and services that appeal to them.

When creating customer personas for the finance industry, there are a few key characteristics you'll want to consider:

  • Demographics—age, gender, location, income level

  • Behaviors—their relationship with money, how they prefer to bank/manage their finances if they're comfortable with online technology

  • Attitudes—their feelings about money and financial institutions

  • Needs—what they need from a financial institution or service provider

03—Lay Out Your Customer Journey Map

Now that you understand who your customers are and what drives them, you’ll need to map out their journey with your brand so you can create content aligned with that journey. There are a few elements to include in customer journey maps:

  • Customer Touchpoints—These are the specific interactions your customer has with your brand, product, or service. They can be digital (like a website visit) or physical (like visiting a bank).

  • Emotions and pain pointsHow does your customer feel at each stage of their journey? Customer journey maps should include both positive and negative emotions to give you a complete picture.

  • Customer goals—What does your customer want to achieve? Customer journey maps should be focused on helping customers achieve their goals, not just completing one purchase.

  • Business objectives—How can your business help your customer achieve their goal? Every customer touchpoint should align with your business objectives.

Look at the precise steps each customer persona takes when interacting with your business. For example, if you're an investment advisor, explore how they learned about your financial services and which steps they take before setting up an investment portfolio, or if anything prevents them from doing so.

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4—Content Creation and Analysis

Solid customer journey maps lead to highly tailored content for your customer. With your map in hand, think about the content you want to create to support each stage of the customer journey. Before you deep dive into the content, here are a few tips to focus on:

Learn How To Talk To Your Customers

It's no secret that the finance industry doesn't always know how to talk to customers. Financial brands have long relied on communication that uses financial jargon, which, most of the time, alienates customers or investors because the brand is viewed as unapproachable. So, how can financial brands give customers what they are looking for in a way they want to hear it?

What we're hearing from our Rebel Trend Report is this: customers want less confusing terminology and more easy-to-digest content. Finances already stress customers out, so lighten their load with approachable communications tailored to their needs and experiences.

Think customer-centric communications. Create content for the customer. (This is where a customer journey map can come in handy.)

Review and Improve Content

Audit your website, blog, and social media channels to see what kind of content you're currently putting out. Then, take a look at your customer journey map and see if there are any gaps.

Do you have enough content to support each stage?

Is the quality of your content up to par?

Once you've answered these questions, you can start creating new content or improving your existing content to better support your customer's journey.

Create Tailored Content

Keep in mind that each persona will have its own specific needs, goals, and pain points. So, your content should be tailored to each customer persona.

The same goes for each stage of the customer journey. Your customer will need different content depending on where they are in their journey.

For example, someone who is starting to reach retirement and someone who is already retired will be at different stages in their customer journey and will need separate content.

Questions that can help you determine what kind of content to create:

  • What does your customer want to achieve at this stage?

  • What are their pain points?

  • What kind of tone or language will resonate with this persona?

  • What type of content will help them move to the next stage?

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Analyze Content Performance

As you create content, set KPIs for each piece and then track and analyze the performance of your content. This will help you understand what's working and what's not, so you can adjust your content strategy accordingly.

Some things you may want to consider when analyzing the performance of your customer journey map:

  • How many people are engaging with each piece of content?

  • What kind of emotions are being evoked?

  • Are people taking the desired action?

  • What kind of questions are being asked?

Ultimately, your customer journey map should be a living document that's constantly evolving as your customer's needs change. Regularly analyzing and updating your customer journey map ensures that your customer's needs are always being met.

Learn What Customers Are Saying About the Financial Sector

If you're a financial brand looking for the inside scoop on customer trends today, we can help.

Rebel’s latest Trend Report, The Customer Journey Through the Finance Industry, provides insights into the customer's journey through personal finances and will give you ideas for how to improve your customer experience.

Don't just guess what consumers want—know for sure with up-to-date customer trend research. Download the Rebel Trend Report today.