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How Financial Empathy Can Help Financial Services

In the realm of customer service, particularly within financial sectors such as banking and utilities, the emotional experiences of customers play a crucial role in determining their engagement and loyalty.

Many of our clients share distressing accounts of feeling embarrassed, anxious or outright disregarded by service providers. Such negative experiences can foster a deep-seated reluctance to engage with the company or adviser, further leading to avoidance of managing finances altogether. These personal stories vividly illustrate the shortcomings in some service models and strongly highlight the critical need for a more empathetic approach in financial interactions.


The Need for Financial Empathy

Financial empathy involves understanding the emotional and psychological aspects of a customer's financial decisions. It's about:

  • Recognising the stress and embarrassment that can accompany financial difficulties.

  • Addressing these feelings directly through compassionate interaction.

  • Implementing empathy-led services.

Service providers can transform mere transactions to supportive experiences that encourage positive financial behaviour and stronger customer relationships.

Moreover, incorporating financial empathy aligns with the principles of the Consumer Duty, which mandates firms to act to deliver good outcomes for consumers, ensuring that services and communications are designed to treat customers fairly. This approach not only enhances compliance with regulatory standards but also builds trust and loyalty among customers.

Insights From Behavioural Science

Knowing that a significant number of people feel overwhelmed by complex financial jargon, services can simplify communication and provide clear, concise information that is easier to digest.

Behavioural science offers valuable insights into how people make financial decisions and the emotional factors that influence these decisions. These insights can be harnessed to design customer service processes that are more attuned to the anxieties and challenges faced by customers.

For instance, knowing that a significant number of people feel overwhelmed by complex financial jargon, service providers can simplify communication and provide clear, concise information that is easier to digest. Or, understanding the unique challenges faced by those who are neurodivergent and using techniques from behavioural science, strategies can be developed that support them in making good and safe financial decisions.

Creating Safe Spaces for Financial Discussion

Three women sat at a table talkign together.

To foster an environment where customers feel safe and supported, service providers must adopt strategies that eliminate judgement and stigma. Training customer service teams in empathetic communication, financial empathy and cultural competence is crucial. They should be equipped with skills to listen actively, respond with understanding and offer solutions that respect the customer’s emotional state, cultural differences and varying levels of confidence.

Measuring the Success of Empathetic Engagement

The success of empathetic engagement can be measured through various metrics such as customer satisfaction scores, the frequency and quality of customer interactions and feedback regarding the emotional support received. Additionally, reductions in complaint rates and improvements in customer retention rates serve as strong indicators of the effectiveness of these empathetic strategies.

By embracing financial empathy and behavioural science, service providers across various sectors can significantly enhance the way they interact with customers. This not only leads to improved customer satisfaction and loyalty but also promotes healthier financial habits among consumers and shows due care - as required by the Consumer Duty. Ultimately, fostering a supportive and non-judgemental service environment is not just good ethical practice; it's also good business.

If you would like to hear more about fostering financial empathy get in touch with us.


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