The world of finance is changing fast. Customers don’t relate to banks in the way previous generations did, and every year brings a new challenge from the digital sphere. For Barbara Daroca, Head of Corporate Services at ING Luxembourg, those challenges are also opportunities.
A Changing Relationship
Fifty years ago, the average customer’s life was stable, and so was their relationship with their bank. People lived at home for longer, were less likely to move towns, and accepted banks as sources of authority. There days, lives are faster paced and demands on banks are higher. Customers expect them to explain how they work and why. This was the challenge that Daroca face when she took over communications and brand management at ING twelve years ago, and she responded to the modern world with modern tools. She set up Luxembourg’s first financial blog, brought in a mascot, and started supporting large community events such as the Luxembourg Night Marathon. It’s an approach that has helped ING build lasting relationships with its customers.
“The way we consume information, access finance, and talk about it has changed dramatically.” – Barbara Daroca, ING
Communicating With a Fractured Audience
The customer base that Daroca and her colleagues communicate with is divided into many segments. There are savers and spenders, who have different relationships with their own finance; private individuals, small companies, and big businesses, all working on different scales; and different linguistic groups, all looking for communications in their own language. “We try to incorporate wordplay to keep things fresh,” Daroca explains, “but it can be a challenge to translate it across languages while maintaining the same tone and effect. That’s definitely an added problem.” It might be a problem, but it’s not an insurmountable one. Most spenders are also savers, and the people working at businesses are individuals. By understanding the ways these segments overlap, Daroca has found ways to communicate effectively with them all.
The digital age has contributed to these challenges, making customers better informed and more demanding. But it’s also provided tools and opportunities for banks. “Nowadays, digital communication allows us to target specific audiences and adapt our message accordingly,” Daroca explains. “We are savvy users of social media, third party sites for example.” Social media, digital assets, and brand management can all help a company to thrive in this brave new world. But that doesn’t mean abandoning all the old values in a rush to the new. “I’m cautious about the so-called TikTok experts who entice younger generations with get-rich-quick ideas,” Daroca explains. “We want to provide sound information rather than questionable advice.” Customers might not accept the authority of banks in the unquestioning way they once did, but there’s still power in being an institution people can trust.