News & Thinking

HEARTtruths: Tools of retention – dialing up experience & trust with Wise

  • News
News 21 Mar

HEART by MTM is a proprietary growth framework for healthy acquisition and retention across entertainment, Telco, FoodTech, TravelTech and FinTech sectors.

To peel back another layer on HEART’s seven experience drivers, we continue our conversation Michele Galli, Senior Product Manager at Wise. Read on to be inspired by another  lively Q&A between Michele and Jonathan Stone, MTM’s Director of Tech & Telco.

Key takeaways from the Q&A are:

  • Make your product sticky by doing a job really, really well
  • Consistency of experience across touchpoints is key
  • Trust is built from transparency, authenticity and consistency
  • You’ll never be better at everything, so be better at one thing
  • Leverage the network effect

Jonathan: Let’s talk about retention. How do you think about retention and balance it with acquisition?

Michele: We’re trying to have them coupled a little bit. Especially in Wise, when we look at acquisition, we always try to think about how much value this customer could bring in 12-months’ time. That means that they need to stick with you for 12 months, right? And if they don’t, then their 12-month value will go down and so on. So your focus on acquiring this type of customer would be less, so that is important, because even when you think about acquisition, not all companies will be able to recover their onboarding cost very quickly.

The more they stick with you, the more chances you have to recover some of these costs. Now, depending on your product, you might have higher or lower onboarding costs… That’s why they’re very coupled. If you’ve brought in the right amount of customers, the right type of customers, then they will stick with you.

How do you make them stick with you is the same stuff. There is no magic formula here. You have a person that has a problem, you solve that problem, you do it damn well. They’re going to stay with you. And sometimes, you know, there is a lot of over complication in this process. People try to think about all the different strategies and initiatives and all these things and then how we keep our customers and they have no idea what, what are their needs and problems. It doesn’t have to be rocket science.

You need to also make sure that all the departments are good, because, for example, they can have an amazing experience with your product. But then every time they’re trying to talk with someone, they have an awful experience with customer support. So at that point, again, you lose the trust of the people, even though your product is amazing. But then in their moment of need, you failed them and so they’re going to leave you. That part is also important right across departments.

Jonathan: It’s really interesting because what we found through HEART was the halo effect on the brands that people rated really, really highly across all the brand experience dimensions. I don’t think that everyone who rated the brands knew everything about the brand that they were rating. But people fill in gaps based on what they know until they’ve got reason to think otherwise. When we looked at people who didn’t respond quite as favorably, in varying degrees, what we saw is that the relationships became more functional. So they still had trust in the brand in terms of being able to deliver on the basics and say being easy to use. But in terms of the personalised experience, in terms of acting with integrity, those were the things that really differentiated the top brands in HEART, of which Wise was one, from other brands, because of that consistency in the experience or perceptions.

Michele: But it will always depend. Trust has multiple layers, so the more the more a person trusts you, the more forgiving they will be when you make a mistake. That is definitely an important part. But when, as you said, you can do everything amazingly, but if it didn’t build this trust with your customers and you failed them on one thing – and, for example, customer support, again, is an important thing — is something that we try also to be better at in Wise, especially when it’s about their money.

Jonathan: Yeah, the consistency, and you’ve come back to that, transparency, authenticity and consistency are the things that you’ve highlighted here. We’ve talked a lot about trust. And that trust is built over time. So that’s a really important part of retention.

What the HEART framework shows, again, as you look at people who rate the brands they talk about really highly, down to those who rated it poorly. What we see is this progression through, at a very basic level, if you don’t have a product that meets a need or a service that meets a need, you don’t have a business.

Beyond that, the next thing you need to have to be competitive is trust. Beyond trust, then it’s admiration in the brand. And then the next level, the highest level, is category leadership, defining the kind of category agenda, but also a really strong set of values around the brand and taking a stand on something, whether it’s environmental or whether it’s about doing good in the world.

I just would love to get your thoughts on that progression where you see Wise on that and whether you recognise that progression.

Michele: Definitely. When we talk about needing to start from that core of what is the thing that you’re doing, what is the problem you’re solving? And then, as I said, you start from there, you build the trust. And then, it’s interesting, you were saying that when at a certain point, it’s the values, right. And for us again it resonates because it’s that transparency bit, it’s not just about making sure that you can send money without spending a lot of money, but also about making sure that every time you make such a transaction with your banks, you know how much you’re spending.

Jonathan: Yeah. Fascinating. There seem to be three elements coming through in what you’re saying that you’ve got to get right. You’ve got to have the customer experience, which is about understanding what customers needs are, where there’s an opportunity to do something better and delivering on that, and that’s almost the center of it. Then you’ve got to have the user experience to make it a good and consistent experience as you described. If you’ve also got the brand experience as well, selling that vision about what you are as a brand. So in terms of brand experience, customer experience, user experience, what would you say is the most important for healthy acquisition, retention and growth?

Michele: This that’s a very good question. And the way I look at it is, some of these things come from different moments. All of these things will help you win trust from the customers. But trust is not black and white, right? Trust is not something that is there or is not. There are different layers to trust and different levels of trust.

At the beginning, customers do not trust you, especially as a financial tool. They do not trust a new financial tool on your financial app. And so how do you convince them to use your product? You need to provide a 10X better user experience and they need to have something that is so good compared to what they are using that they cannot ignore it and so they start using it.

But then how do you keep them? Well, you can retain them by being transparent, by being authentic with your values and then to be consistent. If we’re talking about acquisition, so bring them in, it’s definitely the experience, like they need to have such good value that they want to try your experience. If we talk about retention, it’s more about the other elements and, depending then on the tools that you have to acquire customers, you can increase or decrease trust.

For example, for us, a very important element is organic channels, right? So we have around 70% of our growth coming from organic. So people recommending to friends or families, which is a great way, for example, for us to overcome trust issues at the beginning, because trusting a financial tool is difficult. Trusting a friend is easy, right? So it is better to do that that way.

Jonathan: Yes, driving network effect. And you said there, getting people to use you for the first time, you’ve got to be 10X better than the next best solution. Is there an implication there that for a new service, you’ve got to focus on a very specific use case?

Michele: Yes, absolutely. You’ll not be able to be better at everything, right, so focus on one. So basically, let’s say you have ten problems you can try to solve, maybe six of them pretty much in a decent way. You will solve the problem or you will not be 10X better. So it’s better to select one problem and resolve it fully. So end to end, if you are able to solve that problem fully, you’ll be able to be 10X better than everybody else. But if you if you do that, then you will never get there. Once you nail the first thing, you expand to other problems.

Jonathan: Yeah, it’s really interesting. I guess within the financial services industry there are opportunities and I suppose there are lots of different brands out there that are trying to pick off bits of it. And there are other categories which are much more difficult. Let’s say energy, for example, where you’re just, you know, you’re selling, you’re selling energy and there’s not so there’s not so many things to pick at. In that instance, what for you is most important? Let’s say you’re a new energy company coming onto the market based on your kind of experience in working with these kinds of companies, what do you think is the most important thing whenever you can’t achieve that differentiation, that specific use case?

Michele: The most important thing is always the customer understanding, right? Like you need to start from there. And a lot of times I see brands that I know they’re trying to just reach maybe feature parity, even in energy or in fintech or whatever. You know, they see a company that is providing a service, and I say, all right, I maybe I can do I can do the same thing, but a little better. But then they’re not really understanding what are the problems that they are solving. I think I’ll always start from there. When you are able when you know, when you gain confidence that you are solving that problem for, for the customer, everything else is, everything is secondary. But that impact will come always from understanding your customers.

Jonathan: I wanted to touch on personalisation. You talked about retention the importance of or more broadly looking at the challenges around retention, you’re going to have people who use you every day and you can have people use you once a year and less. How do you go about creating an experience or engaging with your customers over time to ensure that they’re using you as much as is relevant?

Michele: You need to understand what are the things that really matter, right? So who are the customers that you want to retain? There will be a set of customers that you really want to focus on? These are the people that can bring the most value to your platform. And so you say, ‘right, if I had to spend just one day on something and it would be spent on this, these people,’ then you have, the people that can benefit from the opportunities optimization that you’re doing for another group, but you’re not actively focusing on them.


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