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The Customer Awareness and Education Disconnect

Strategically Speaking
May 15, 2013

Karen Crumbley Author: Karen Crumbley,

After working with Financial Institutions (FIs) since June 2011 on compliance objectives of the FFIEC’s Supplement to Authentication Guidance, it has become clear that many FIs are still struggling with the best way to address the guidance in order to provide customer awareness and education.  There appears to be a gap between the FIs providing educational materials to their customers and their customers acknowledging their receipt and understanding of the materials.

Here are some of the reasons why I believe FI customers may be ignoring educational materials:

  • The educational material is not compelling -
    Regardless of the distribution method, the material simply fails to capture their attention. FIs utilize multiple distribution channels such as websites, brochures, statement stuffers, but with customers inundated with materials from multiple directions, educational materials are  largely ignored.
  • A strategic communication plan and messaging is missing -
    Many FIs fail to create and follow a strategic roadmap for ongoing Customer Awareness and Education Program initiatives.  The messaging begins to lack specific focus and does not create compelling reasons why customers should be attentive to the communications regarding the need for additional or enhanced technology controls to prevent/detect fraud.
  • The Customer Awareness and Education Program is stuck on that “backburner” -
    The Customer Awareness and Education Program component of the FFIEC guidance is not a priority, and other projects have taken precedence leaving enhancements in the conceptual phase.
  • The FI is concerned that intentional efforts to encourage education may alienate  business customers -
    FIs do not want to imposition their customers by making education mandatory.  As a result, many business customers are falsely under the impression that their accounts are protected and insured against fraud.

Here are some ways that FIs have had success with their Education and Awareness Program:

  • FI management leverages unique delivery channels for communicating to their higher risk commercial customers - 
    FIs see this as an opportunity to build relationships.  They utilize specific campaigns designed to create interest and a desire to learn more. Successful tactics include  eblasts and emails, outbound phone calls, in person meetings, marketing campaigns combined with customer facing events like  ‘ lunch and learns’, and web-based training to encourage customer participation. 
  • FIs engage internal stakeholders for support and buy in for an active Customer Awareness and Education Campaign -
    As part of the strategic communication planning process, FIs identify, create and train internal cheerleaders who understand the purpose and importance of the campaign.  As a result, the FI employees are knowledgeable and are able to engage customers to emphasize the importance and to further education and awareness.
  • Educational material is promoted as a value-added service -
    Instead of viewing the educational offerings as a burden to customers, FIs capitalize on education as a way to promote confidence and concern for the security of online banking transactions rather than an inconvenient feature and in this sense, embracing the guidance objectives as an opportunity rather than a burden.

An active Customer Awareness and Education program should be a strategic and ongoing initiative, designed to help your customers make the connection.  They own a large part of the responsibility for the security of their online banking transactions and your FI’s participation in  providing this valuable information to prevent and detect fraud can enhance and deepen the relationship with your customers.

I would love to hear your ideas for a successful Customer Awareness and Education Program. 

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