credit card holder

What Do Customers Today Want from Credit Cards?

Most American adults have received more than their fair share of credit card offers. They thicken our stacks of mail with eye-catching envelopes announcing, “You’re pre-qualified for this special offer!” and “Earn 5,000 rewards points when you enroll!” They trickle into our email inboxes, as many financial services companies aim to get existing customers to try out new and additional products. They even attract our attention from posters and billboards.

With so many credit card options out there, customers these days seem to have more selection than ever before. So, companies hoping to attract cardholders must ask: What do customers today really want from their credit cards? After all, any promotions or marketing materials that fall short of relevancy — or promote an undesirable product — are all too easy to ignore in the sea of better offers.

Rethinking the Rewards-First Approach

Ample rewards used to distinguish cards from the pack, offering consumers something novel. However, rewards cards are now everywhere, even as their cost to issuers is on the rise. So, not only is it more costly for companies to offer rewards cards, but they’re more of a baseline expectation than a truly unique selling proposition. As Business Insider cites, three-fourths of card issuers had a rewards program associated with their top card as of 2018; two years prior, only 58 percent of cards did.

By no means are we suggesting card issuers ditch rewards.

Rather, we’re saying it’s smart to figure out different — additional — ways to add value.

As Deloitte cites, nearly seven in 10 consumers (69 percent) said they’d find a credit card with personalized features appealing. So, rather than one-size-fits-everyone rewards, cardholders prefer the ability to flexibly assemble their perks and terms based on their specific wants/needs.

Hitting the Target on Credit Card Offers

With so many credit cards available from so many issuers — and so many different offers to investigate — it’s understandable people may feel overwhelmed. When card issuers can spare searchers the hassle, time and energy it takes to find a card, they can earn a customer.

Meanwhile,  72 percent of Americans say most of the offers they receive aren’t a good fit for them. This means financial services companies are wasting resources on marketing the wrong products toward the wrong people. On the other hand though, there is a promising market for relevant offers to well-targeted audience segments.

How banks and credit card companies approach financial data analysis can make or break their understanding of customer behaviors, demographics and motivations. As well as how successful they are at expertly targeting offers based on data. Search- and AI-driven data analytics tools are connecting decision-making teams with insights that can in turn help them optimize their approach to designing products and marketing them to customers.

For instance, Royal Bank of Canada uses analytics from ThoughtSpot, allowing more than 200 marketers and executives to analyze the performance of credit card promotional campaigns — then make tweaks and try new approaches based on what the data tells them.

Relevancy, personalization and timeliness are key. Despite the proliferation of offers floating around, many aren’t hitting their mark. Card issuers that can use data to ensure their marketing missives are on point can reap the rewards of higher enrollment and retention rates.

Optimizing Multi-Channel Customer Service

Customer service interactions offer companies an opportunity to distinguish themselves and deepen the loyalty cardholders have for their brands. Or they can drive customers farther away with poor experiences.

NerdWallet outlines a few standout approaches taken by the credit card issuers that ranked highest in a J.D. Power satisfaction survey:

  • Focus on personal interaction and ability to speak to a human 24/7 without cumbersome automated menus
  • Providing “anticipatory service” by predicting what questions and concerns customers may have based on account data
  • Text-message conversations with customer service specialists
  • Offering live chat online to address the first wave of questions and issues
  • A simple way to remotely freeze your card if it’s lost or stolen from afar
  • Around-the-clock service to accommodate people with different schedules in different time zones

Customers today want flexible card terms, relevant offers and customer service going above and beyond. These are all facets credit card companies can work to optimize by using data analytics.

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