Leading consulting firms have long maintained that emotions are important in shaping customer experience perceptions, according to Steve Heusuk, senior manager of customer intelligence for CUNA Mutual Group. CUNA Mutual Group recently surveyed 1,005 consumers online to better understand the connection as to how reducing anxiety shapes customer experience perceptions and loyalty perceptions.
The study found that a sizable portion of U.S. consumers are experiencing some financial anxiety, including 39 percent agreed they are more anxious now than they were five years ago when spending money. 29 percent of consumers surveyed agreed with feeling anxious about their current financial situation and 20 percent agreed that their level of debt is ruining the quality of life.
Consumers rated their primary financial institutions on three standardized customer experience questions including: measuring to the degree to which they accomplished what they wanted to, how easy it was to interact with their primary financial institution and how the interactions made the consumer feel. Heusuk noted that consumers not anxious about their current financial situation gave significantly higher ratings than anxious consumers.
CUNA Mutual Group also asked consumers who applied for a loan in the past five years what emotions they felt when deciding to apply for a loan and when completing the loan application. The survey found that 61 percent of borrowers stated they were anxious, stressed and afraid at some point before or during the loan application process.
Heusuk noted that the survey also examined the relationship between lenders actions to reduce borrowers’ anxiety, stress and/or fears and two important customer loyal metrics: likelihood to consider the lender for the next purchase and likelihood to recommend the lender to a friend or family member.
The study learned that loyalty ratings given by borrowers whose lenders took actions to reduce borrowers’ stress were approximately over 30 percentage points higher than loyalty ratings given by borrowers whose lenders did not, Heusuk stated.
The leading concerns mentioned hint at ways credit unions can reduce borrowers’ anxiety. Examples include:
- Informing members of the pre-approved credit offers for which they qualify;
- Providing members with free credit scores and simulators to show the impact of financial decisions on their credit score;
- Counseling members on when not to borrow; and
- Providing members with access to debt-to-income and loan affordability calculators.
Heusuk explained that this research leaves little doubt credit unions taking such actions will be rewarded. While this study focused on anxiety related to lending, it’s easy to see how addressing members’ worries related to saving, spending and managing money could improve members’ perceptions of their credit union.
He concluded explaining that banks and fintech startups are investing large sums on technology to improve functional elements of customer experience such as speed, ease and convenience.
“Credit unions have a significant opportunity to differentiate themselves from competitors by effectively reducing members’ anxiety digitally,” Heusuk wrote.
Steve Heusuk is a senior manager of customer intelligence for CUNA Mutual Group. He can be contacted at email@example.com.