If the end of a brutal and atypical presidential campaign taught us anything, it’s this: you must expect the unexpected. Regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum, Donald Trump’s victory astonished practically everybody, Democrats and Republicans, armchair analysts and veteran political pundits.

While there are many lessons to learn from this presidential campaign, one in particular applies to banks and credit unions. Just as candidates for political office must know the voting public, so must financial institutions know the people they serve. If not, you will not establish vital connections (often emotional connections) with these consumers and will therefore fail to build bridges to them in meaningful and long-lasting ways.

Following are a few ways banks and credit unions can help ensure they truly understand their consumers.

Talk to them. This may require you to leave the comfortable bubble of your office, but it’s vital. Get out from behind the desk and visit with your consumers. Hear their concerns. Pay attention to their wants and needs. And make sure they know that you care about the challenges facing their financial livelihoods.

Offer solutions that matter. Your consumers aren’t typically interested in a long list of bullet points that explain how a checking account or loan product works. Rather, they want to know how your products and services can positively impact their lives. In other words, while things like rates and fees are important, your consumers are much more in it for how a particular product or service works out for them in the real world.

Respond accordingly. If, after talking to your consumers and offering solutions to their challenges you find that your bank or credit union still comes up short, own that. Maybe your checking accounts and lending products just don’t reflect marketplace demand. Or perhaps your online access points are substandard in the light of today’s technology. Regardless, if consumer feedback tells you something, your bank or credit union is wise to act on it.

Knowing the people you wish to serve is vital to any business, cause or politician. And while your bank or credit union’s ultimate goal may not be the White House, its cause is the same — to meaningfully connect with consumers in such a way that drives them to cast their vote/wallet share in your favor.

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