NTUC Income, the Singapore-based insurance company, is focused on “the human aspect of retail” as it seeks to make emotional connections with consumers as part of its efforts at customer-centricity.

Julia Lin, head of consumer insights at NTUC Income’s digital transformation office, addressed this topic at the recent MRMW APAC market research conference in Singapore.

“Emotional needs-connected customers bring in more revenue,” she pointed out, “therefore it’s more important for us to understand customers’ emotional needs, and connect with customers at an emotional level.”

NTUC Income recently completed a full-fledged qualitative study, which identified several such needs evinced by retail finance customers. (For more, read WARC’s report: Three ways brands in Asia are tackling customer-centricity.)

One is the need to feel relaxed and connected – and some local banks have tapped into this by partnering with cafés to set up stores within branches.

“It makes customers more relaxed and more welcome,” said Lin. “If you grab a cup of coffee while waiting to be served, it completely changes the ambience of a traditional bank. It makes the banking experience much better.”

At the same time, customers want to be in control and not feel pressured by sales people. “They expect the advice to be neutral and objective,” Lin explained. “If they make a decision to buy, they want to buy it at their own pace.”

In this respect banking and finance can learn from Apple Store and its daily hands-on experiences, she suggested. “The workshops are lifestyle-driven, not sales-driven. That’s why [consumers] like the experience.”

Improving the digital journey for customers can satisfy the need for both control and relaxation, as well as aiding their self-discovery journey, Lin said, particularly with a younger demographic.

“[Millennials] don’t have experience and deep knowledge of finance products,” she observed. “This represents a great opportunity.

“If we can encourage them to walk in to a branch and find advice in the service they are interested in, by the time they are ready to start investing with us, they will be ready to grow with us.”

Sourced from WARC