How banks and telcos can find their Black Friday moment

By Karen Wheeler, Country Manager and Vice-President, Affinion UK

It’s that time of year again, when we flock to the shops to take advantage of the Black Friday offers, as retailers clamour to outbid one another for our attention (and share of wallet). According to GlobalData, British shoppers are expected to spend £10.1bn in the week of Black Friday, nearly 4% higher than last year as more retailers take part.

But whilst Black Friday started as a shopping event, there is a slow realisation from other industries that there may be potential for them to jump board too. Vodafone is leading the way for the telcos industry, as it offers its “best-ever fibre broadband deal”, with a 20 per cent discount off the price and removal of the set-up fee. And in banking, the UK mobile-only challenge Starling Bank is offering customers the opportunity to earn 10 per cent cashback on their online shopping (up to a total of £25) if they invite one person to join Starling bank with a referral code.

These are great initiatives which demonstrate how both established and challenger brands are seeking to engage with new customers. But I think there is a huge missed opportunity for banks and telcos providers to do even more.  At a key time for consumers looking for discounts and extra value, could they be capitalising on this potential and finding new ways to make their customers happy, which could generate goodwill and loyalty that extends beyond the Christmas period?

Of course, the understandable challenge for these industries is that there is less of a natural seasonal spike for them to build momentum towards. Whilst retailers can live or die depending on their performance during the critical Christmas season, banks and telcos need to offer a consistent and engaging customer experience all year round. So how can providers give their customers the ‘Black Friday feeling’ every day of the year?

Surprise and delight customers

What makes Black Friday a success is the sense of the anticipation and surprise that it brings. Vodafone’s offer is a perfect example of capturing the festive mood, but instead of being a one-off purchase, it’s the start of a relationship with a customer built around meeting an everyday need. For banks and telcos, the opportunity is to find moments where they can offer practical, relevant solutions which help customers to manage their lives, delivered in a personalised way which makes them feel special.

Personalisation is crucial

With so much choice available, it’s never been more important to prove to customers that you know their likes (and dislikes) and are able to offer them products and services which suit their particular life stage. More channels and touchpoints means more opportunity to collate data on each customer and build a picture of their lives into a ‘segment of one’, meaning every interaction should be relevant, engaging and valued.

Think outside of the box

According to the British Banking Association, there were 19.6 million banking app users across the UK in 2016, with 159 logins occurring every second. This means banks have a huge opportunity to capitalise on this high frequency of interactions and ask themselves: how can we build on this, what more can we offer our customers? We know from our partnerships with some of the UK’s leading banks that in order to build long-term loyalty, it’s essential to provide solutions for other relevant parts of their lives to deepen the engagement.

 It will be interesting to see if more banks and telcos trial Black Friday offers and promotions in the years to come. However, we also think it’s crucial to find new ways to engage, surprise and delight customers throughout the year; both meeting and predicting their needs and becoming an increasingly important part of their lives to build long-term relationships and encourage loyalty.