The financial services industry has seen a long line of “disruptors” emerge in the last decade. Often created by and for the Millennial market, these app-based payment and banking brands seek to simplify and streamline “traditional” banking products. These companies are not only providing alternatives for a generation that doesn't really trust big banks but also figuring out how to evolve with the changing needs of their loyal users.
While many financial institutions attempt to market life stage banking products/services, and implement effective migration strategies, we haven’t seen any do so as clearly and effectively – or in such a “productified” way – as Bank of America.
As a Bank of America customer, I recently received an email with the following subject line that caught my attention:
“Family is everything” is not a message I’m accustomed to receiving from a big bank, so I thought the email was worth a read. Immediately when I opened the email, I saw the life-stage theme play out in the headline and photo depicting three generations. It clearly played off both new beginnings (with the young son) and changes (with the father and elderly grandfather).
But what stood out to me the most was the name – “Family Life Banking program” – which clearly and quickly implied that this program included Bank of America products that could help me, and my family of course, at any life stage. This intrigued me because, to date, I hadn’t seen a bank successfully bundle or package their existing mass market products in a way that appealed to various ages and life stages as part of one cohesive program.
Scrolling further down the email, audience segments at various (and progressive) life stages are introduced and paired with likely needs and pain points.
By self-selecting (clicking on a segment), you are taken to a landing page that speaks directly to the respective segment. For example, clicking on “Parents” takes you to a landing page within the Family Life Banking microsite that highlights the following:
- an expecting couple’s need to budget (while touting Bank of America’s Spending & Budgeting tool within the brand’s mobile app);
- a mom’s need to plan ahead for college for her 7-year old (offering use of a Merrill Edge 529 account); and
- the desire for parents to earn enough points with the travel rewards credit card to take the whole family to Florida to see Grandma.
Likewise, clicking on “teens” takes you to content that promotes products like Student Banking and Direct Deposit, car loans, banking alerts, a goals tool and a college savings calculator. (You get the gist.)
Once at the microsite, you can toggle between life stages within the “journey” timeline and/or view comprehensive lists of products and services relevant to each life stage and, potentially, to other members of the family.
While effective in its marketing, after some further exploration of the Family Life Banking program, it became evident that the program is part of the bank’s broader effort to deepen its customer relationships. Back in October, 2018, Bank of America launched an employee training curriculum called “Lifestage Navigation” – a training program designed to focus on customers’ key life stages. Developed in partnership with Age Wave, a thought leader on population demographics and aging, the training program is intended to change how the bank’s employees interact with customers.
The program transformed the existing paradigm into a “customer-focused strategy that helps employees personalize each client’s experience by focusing on six key life stages: early adulthood, parenting, caregiving, retirement, widowhood and end of life/legacy.” In the press release about the changes, Head of The Academy for Consumer and Small Business John Jordan said, “Our business is based on client relationships, and through Lifestage Navigation training, our employees will gain a deeper understanding and heightened empathy for the events that shape our clients’ lives. By transforming how our workforce interacts with clients, we will be far better at creating and deepening long-term relationships with our clients and customers.”1
As a Bank of America customer, I look forward to seeing how this customer-focused strategy and mission manifests itself in product marketing and customer communications – and how the bank will go about targeting me with different products as I migrate from one life stage to another.
Tags: Bank of America, customer engagement, customer relationships, financial services marketing, life stage