Sign of the Times

By Kevin Flanagan, Director of Marketing, Micronotes

When you work for an artificial intelligence software company that uses machine learning to help financial institutions to engage more effectively with online banking users, you tend to notice things related to your work.

Micronotes is located in a high-tech building in downtown Boston with several retail businesses at street level. One of those is a People’s United Bank branch. As it happens, I have been a very satisfied customer of that bank for more than 10 years.

One day, while coming around the corner of the building, I happened to see this sign in the window:

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I apologize for the glare and reflection on the photo, but that’s what passersby saw (or, more likely, didn’t see).

The interest rates People’s United is advertising for its CDs are very good. But I wonder how many of its existing users, who rarely go into branches, were even aware of this offer. I spent some time observing people passing by, to see how many even glanced at the sign in the window. I didn’t notice anyone paying attention to it.

Compare this old-school attempt at customer engagement with the recent experience of a Micronotes client that used our platform to engage its digital banking users in a conversation on the same topic (read the full story in this post).

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That campaign targeted everyone above 30 years of age who didn’t have a CD. With a click-through rate of 1.8 percent and an interview completion rate of 100 percent, 13 percent of the interviewees responded that they were interested in moving money to our client and wanted to learn more, either by phone or via electronic fulfillment. This campaign resulted in 26 people moving $1.2 million in new CD deposits to our client.

The difference in approaches is stark. I applaud People’s United for trying to reach its customers—and possibly attract some new ones—by promoting an attractive CD interest rate. But I wonder how much more effective the effort would have been if they had used artificial intelligence and machine learning to converse with customers where they actually do their banking—online and on mobile devices.