Skip to main content

Consumer Experience

forklift product

New Technology For Designers And Marketers

By Blog, Consumer Experience

Rumors about the new iPhone are all over the Internet. Some say there’s a new physical design that will include curved glass, inductive charging, and there may even be a change in the iPhone’s biometric recognition sensor.

Google has been testing self-driving cars. In just seven months, from October 2016 to May of 2017, their fleet of self-driven cars logged over three million miles.

And then there’s Elon Musk who wants to relieve freeway congestion by building 30 layers of tunnels beneath the 105 freeway in Los Angeles. He’s already started digging in the SpaceX parking lot in Hawthorne, California.

Embracing New Technology and New Opportunities

In the past couple of years, there have been a number of new technologies that have helped designers and marketers reach and engage current and prospective clients. These may not be as flashy as the new technology offered from Apple, Google and Elon Musk, but we’ve incorporated these new technologies into the products and services we offer. Our latest addition will provide numerous opportunities and advantages to our design and marketing clients.

The New Komori GL640 H-UV Printing Press

Westamerica Communications has just installed a new Komori GL640 H-UV printing press. There are a number of benefits that designers and marketers will appreciate about our new press. These include:

•   Shorter Total Turnaround Time

•   Improved print quality of traditional substrates

•   Ability to print on unusual substrates

•   Eco-friendly

One of the first advantages clients will realize with the new Komori press is the ability to get jobs finished quicker. There are a couple of reasons for the decreased turn around time. One is obvious. The speed of the press is amazing. Its maximum printing speed is 16,500 sheets per hour.

The second reason for the quick turn around time has to do with the ultra-violet (UV) lights used with the UV inks and curing system. Turnaround time is dramatically shorter than with conventional printing because an inline process cures printed items instantly. As soon as one side of the sheet is printed we can immediately flip the stock over and run the back side without having to wait for the ink to dry. And, once the substrate is printed, it can be delivered to the finishing department for trimming, folding, die cutting, or whatever finishing operations need to be completed.

Improved print quality of traditional substrates

The second improvement that designers and marketers will like is the improved print quality with traditional substrates. Let’s say you want to print a job on uncoated stock. Up until now, your biggest problem was, what we in the industry call, dot gain.

Uncoated paper is porous which means that solvent based inks soak into the paper. The dot of ink that is printed on an uncoated sheet will be absorbed into the paper thus the dot of ink will expand creating a muddy look to the text and images.

With the H-UV inks and curing system on the Komori, the dot of ink is cured so quickly that the inks don’t soak into the paper but instead set on top of the sheet thus creating an image with more contrast, brighter colors, and a bigger color gamut.

And, when printing with coated stock, there are additional benefits to the new Komori press. When printing coated stock traditional press operators use anti-set-off spray powder to make an air gap between printed sheets of paper. This powder keeps the ink on the front of one sheet from transferring to the back of the next sheet.

With the Komori H-UV system the inks dry (cure) immediately, thus there is a reduction of paper spoilage and without the need for anti-set-off spray powder, the surface of printed items is smooth to the touch.

And wait until you see the high gloss finish on coated stock. It’s so beautiful there’s no need to use varnish.

Ability to print on unusual substrates

Have you ever wanted to impress your clients by using non-traditional substrates? Well, now you can. Imagine printing on plastics, wood veneer, or cardboard. The truth is, if we can run it through the press we can print on it.

The Eco-friendly features of our new press

The new press has environmental advantages over both conventional printing presses and other UV presses. First, conventional presses that use solvent based or soy-based inks emit volatile organic compounds (VOC).

According to an article in Printing Impressions magazine, “Since UV inks cure instantly when exposed to UV light, drying time is eliminated and no solvents are released or absorbed into the substrate, as is common with conventional inks. The UV process releases no VOCs making it much safer for operators and the environment.”

There are additional advantages to the Komori over other UV presses. The H-UV lamp head is an ozone free lamp that operates with higher efficiency and less heat. The amount of CO2 emissions from the Komori is one-fourth that of conventional UV curing systems.

And we’re talking about a big difference in power consumption. Without getting too deep into the specifications of the press, the power consumption of a conventional UV press versus the Komori H-UV system is reduced by 66%. This all leads to a smaller environmental footprint.

The news of a new Komori GL640 H-UV printing press installation at Westamerica Communications in Lake Forest, California may not make headlines like Elon Musk digging a hole in Hawthorne, California, but it’s a big move for us and our clients who will soon see the opportunities that are available from embracing this new technology.

The How to BE Points of Customer Service Improvement Programs

By Blog, Consumer Experience, User Experience

Making a MistakeToo often we spend obscene amounts of money acquiring new customers and then cut corners once we have them. Improving customer service is more vital than customer acquisition and costs so much less. Without customer service, your business will take one step forward and two steps back. And the damaging impression that poor customer service causes can last years.

When I was on the phone recently with my Internet provider’s customer service call center, every question I asked caused the woman to pause for 20 seconds before she answered. It didn’t take long to figure out she was looking up her answers on the Internet.

I quickly thanked her for her time, hung up, and redialed for a better-informed customer service employee. I also quickly ranked this company a little lower in my mind.

So let’s take a look at how to be an exceptional customer service program.

Be On Time.

When your customers need help, don’t make them wait. By the time your customers call a helpline, they’re already a little frazzled. If they’re on the phone, some promise you’ve made to them has already gone wrong. They’re hoping you can make it right. It’s never fun to admit you need help. Add in hold music and an extended wait time and you’ve just added another problem to your problem.

Be Informed.

As I discovered on my call to my Internet provider, training your customer service teams is vital. A great example of an informed customer service staff is the Genius Bar at any Apple store. While the term “Genius Bar” may be the most pompous name for a help desk in the history of help desks, these men and women know their stuff. When you go there you get answers and solutions; they’re not going to ask Google for the answers.

Be Empowered.

When customers call, they want to talk to the person who can solve their problem. Getting transferred to the manager and having to explain your issue to another person another time can frustrate the most patient customer, so give your people on the front lines the power to make things right.

Be invested.

Your customer service team needs to possess excellent communication skills. They need to be easily understood. More importantly, they need to care. Empathy goes a long way in troubling situations. When a customer feels that they are being listened to, that the other person is invested in their problem, they’ll walk away from nearly every interaction happier — even if the resolution doesn’t meet their previous expectations

Be available.

Customer service doesn’t begin or end on a help line. Many of your customers need help in other channels, too. Sure, a thorough FAQ page online is a good start, but it’s not enough. The next level of online customer service would be a well-displayed phone number to your help line or an email option. And, of course, online chats are the gold standard where you can turn an issue into an opportunity online.

Think your newly designed website solves all of these navigation and purchase problems. Think again. A recent survey revealed that 83% of customers need some human assistance before making a purchase. Translation? A lack of customer service can result in an ocean of abandoned shopping carts and the lost sales they carry.

An old businessman once said, “You start losing a customer the moment you get them.” The view may be a bit defeatist, but the idea isn’t too far from the truth. Improving customer service isn’t a tough nut to crack. It’s no ancient mystery. It’s a good combination of common sense and effort. Be diligent and your customers will be your customers for years to come.


Let’s get personal – creating a unique and individualized consumer experience

By Blog, Consumer Experience, Financial Marketing

Lets Get PersonalRelevance.


If you remember one word from the next few paragraphs, remember this: relevance.

The User Experience on the Internet is tracked, and that information is used. The web, the great equalizer when it comes to information, is evolving to fit the individual. It’s an equal trade off when looking through the proper lens. Users are giving up information about themselves through their activity. In return, they are receiving information from outside sources that fit that activity. They are repaid with relevance.


As marketers, this is a vital facet of understanding our customers and creating a web experience tailored to them. These tailored experiences are quickly changing from a pleasant surprise to a user expectation.


Our privacy is our currency.


When it comes to our online lives, we are all being watched. Everything from our last purchase to how long we hovered over a photograph of a scantily-clad model is being monitored.


As awareness of this fundamental truth grows, so does concern about it. Privacy settings are made available to users who don’t want Big Brother watching so much. What is the best way to keep the access of information flowing? Be a better Big Brother. For us to have access to how that experience is being used, we need to make it useful. Make it important. Make it relevant. When that happens our customers won’t see it as being watched, they’ll see it as being listened to, and that’s something everyone wants.


Who’s doing personalization right?


When it comes to creating a cutting-edge personalized user experience, it should come as no surprise that Google leads the way. Using an innovative algorithm, Google will give different results depending on the user. For example, the term “Modern Warfare” will get different search results if the person searching is a hardcore gamer versus a history student.


Netflix, the corporation who seamlessly transitioned from a DVD rental company to a streaming entertainment giant, sees the future too. They are investing $150 million in creating a customized experience through recommendation systems. And they have hired 300 people to create fresh, humanized and relevant recommendations. Why? We will all soon grow to expect a personalized experience.


Where’s personalization headed?


Now that we’re all on our mobile devices — and checking in on everything from Facebook to Foursquare – our location behavior is being added to our online behavior. In short, we’re bringing our online world into the real world. As this behavior continues to get tracked, we will soon have our content delivered based off where both our passport and our browser history has taken us. Things are about to get real. Very real.


What can we do about it?


As marketers, the opportunity is as relevant is the phenomenon. We can deepen our brand loyalty by making sure our brand fits the lives of our customers. We brag about treating people in person as more than a number. Now we can do that with our online customer service as well.


Here are four steps to personalizing your brand:

  1. Get to know them. By using web analytics, you can discover who your customer is by finding out what they want, when they want it and now even where they want it. You can then create the world where everything is in front of them. Everything just fits. Their online experience is as effortless as their experience in your branch.
  2. Give them an incentive. Here’s a great idea to solidify your personalization reputation. Do more than a broad promotion. Do a personalized promotion. Imagine getting a discount on a financial product in which you’re already interested. Now imagine trying to resist that temptation. Say a customer gave up on a loan application. It happens; life often gets in the way. Now imagine how that customer would feel if they were offered a discount to finish their application. How great would that be? That’s deepening your online brand experience.
  3. Give them assistance. Navigating the swarm of financial products can be intimidating for even the more experienced customer. Offer up a little human help that will be more valuable than 17 pages of FAQs. Investing in a 24/7 customer service rep or even making an online chat available to your user wandering through your website could be a lifesaver.
  4. Recruit them. We live in the Recommendation Age. If you have a fan of your company, it doesn’t take much effort to turn a customer into a brand ambassador. A referral program offering them $20 for every new customer they bring in to open a checking account is a great brand building combination. You bring in new business while deepening your relationship with a current customer.

Welcome to the new world; make sure you own it.


Our world of personalization is constantly evolving. Do more than embrace it. Celebrate it. Web personalization is a great opportunity to give your customer a voice, a passion, and a reason to love your brand. The time is now to make our information and our brand relevant in their lives — one customer at a time.



Cracking the Millennial Code

By Blog, Consumer Experience, Financial Marketing

Cracking the Millennial CodeGuess what marketing strategy would get Millennials to switch to your financial institution? Go ahead. Guess. Would you need to build more branches? Hire more staff? A slew of marketing tips? Place a small army of ATMs in prime locations? Nope, nope, nope, and nope.

You’d just need to build a better app.

In a recent survey involving more than 4,000 respondents the majority said that their current mobile banking app was “lacking” (53%). They also said they would switch to a different financial institution if a better app were available. And the generation that made the majority of that majority? Millennials.

Yes, the secret to the current marketing fad de jour “Millennials” — a buzz word that has quickly surpassed “Big Data” as the next, next big thing — has been revealed. The newest and strongest demographic, now surpassing Boomers in purchasing power, can be captured and converted into new members through mobile banking.

These smartphone savvy users are also very interested in “Branchless Banking” and would be most receptive to even paying a monthly fee, in this case, $3, to use a better banking app.

The big reveal in this survey is this: for Millennials, your most important branch is their most important and most personal device, their smartphone. Creating and marketing a better mobile banking experience will enable you to tap into a demographic that is 80 million strong.

This insight presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to endear yourself to a group that can become the coveted member-for-life at the very beginning of their banking life. Let’s dig deeper to see how this generation ticks and why they will shape the future of banking.


Your timing couldn’t be better

The age of Millennials 19-37 is the prime occasion to find and deepen a relationship with a financial institution. It is the perfect time to win loyalty for a lifetime. This generation sees technology as connective and intuitive. For many it is not the means to an end. It is the beginning, middle and end. They came of age in the internet era. As a result, they are “connected” with their peers and their institutions like no other generation. Formerly known as Generation Y or Echo Boomers, they are more diverse and more educated than any other age group before them.

And here’s the very interesting tidbit when it comes to financial products, they are buying their first homes much later in life. Meaning the opportunity to capture a mortgage bearing member is still possible even if you’ve come late to the marketing-to-Millennials game.

They really are that into you.

A fairly common misconception that has gotten way too much attention is the rumor that Millennials are into anything but finances. Recent studies have proven this rumor to be a myth. This generation craves more financial information than the others, and they’re not afraid to ask for help. As they hit more significant life stages like advancement at work, having a child and as we mentioned before, owning their first home this need will only increase.

Additionally, this generation absorbs information in a completely different way. Long blocks of text are often avoided as they have been trained to scan their information for photos, videos and bullet points. Infographics seem to be custom made for their kind of information gathering.

Cash isn’t king.

More than any other generation before them, Millennials don’t rely on cash to get through their day. When asked in a recent study about the amount of cash they carry, nearly a quarter of them say they carry less than $5 with them seven days a week. Imagine putting your marketing dollars behind a campaign touting your convenient ATMs to this market. It would be more than wasted money. You’d be spending precious dollars letting them know you are out-of-touch with them and their lives.

They think globally and bank locally.

Most financial institutions are born and raised in their local communities. Does this point of differentiation matter to this young, fast-moving generation? Absolutely. More than half of the Millennials surveyed said that working with a local financial institution was important to them. And 40% of Millennials will pay more for a service if it’s local. The reason? They see their purchases and financial choices as a way to stay connected the their communities.

What to do with them once you have them.

In summary, the key to Millennials banking-hearts is through their phones. And once you have them, make them feel connected. Stress you’re impact on the local economy. Emphasize your digital offerings and let your employees reach out to them via social networks, texting and emails. And when they’re ready to learn about your credit union and how it can affect their lives, communicate in the way they best absorb information.

The bottom line is this: as different as Millennials may seem, at their core they have more in common with other generations than you might think. They’re grounded, community-focused, and can become loyal and lifelong supporters when you correctly present them to your institution.




Where Does the Consumer Experience Stop? Where Does it Start?

By Blog, Consumer Experience, Financial Marketing

Member Experience Stop and StartToo often we think of the consumer experience in the context of our world, not in the world of our patrons. This kind of myopic thinking can lead to a bevy of misconceptions. More importantly, it can lead to a series of lost opportunities in improving consumer experience. For example, if you see your website as the beginning of your patrons’ experience, you’re missing out. The true consumer experience occurs long before they reach out to you and long after they make a product decision.

Look at it outside the lens of your financial institution.

One way to gain a little objectivity is to substitute your institution with a completely different purchase decision. For this example let’s go with the purchasing of a product instead of a service. When someone buys a car, does their journey begin on the Honda website? Doubtful.

They may not even want a Honda. Most likely, a person’s car buying experience begins months, sometimes years before they sign on the dotted line, get their keys and drive off the lot. They’ll ask their friends. They’ll read reviews. They’ll try their best to recall the wide array of print ads, billboards and commercials they’ve seen. Consciously or not Honda has made an impression.

Time is a very valuable commodity in the consumer experience

If and only if the car maker has gone from the consideration set to the small group of purchase possibilities, will a person spend their valuable time on the Honda website. And this is very, very valuable time. When a car purchase goes on your plate, the rest of the world doesn’t stop spinning. No matter if you’re a prince, or a pauper everyone is time poor. And a car purchase has the sense of urgency that switching financial institutions doesn’t. When shaping your vital touch points in your patron’s experience, respect their time. If you don’t, you may not get it.

Broaden your perspective and broaden your possibilities.

As we’ve touched on, what too many marketers see as the beginning of the consumer journey is actually the mid-way point of their experience. Imagine all the possible opportunities available to you when your viewpoint on this consumer journey shifts to a larger perspective. With this approach, your social media strategy may jump up the list of your marketing priorities. Managing your reputation on sites like Yelp or Angie’s List suddenly takes on greater importance. Everything from a buck slip to a billboard could change when you look at the complete consumer journey.

What many think of as the end, is only the beginning

Let’s continue with this car analogy. For the sake time, since we’ve established how very important that is, let’s skip to the post-purchase experience. Is that the end? Will this person ever have contact with Honda again? We all know that answer. So why do we make the mistake of seeing the home loan consumer experience, for example, as having an ending when they sign on the bottom line? When we do, we miss out on the chance of turning a member into an advocate.

We live in a recommendation culture.

Opinions have always been prevalent. Now, they can be broadcast in countless ways by multiple channels. People feel as strongly about their car as they do their financial institutions. Do more than give consumer reasons to sing your praises. Give them opportunities. Follow up after the purchase. Ask them their opinion and them give them the chance to broadcast their happiness to their friends and family. The tools are at their fingertips. All we have to do is nudge them into a recommendation.

The best way to map out a journey? A map’s a good start.

Now that we have a larger perspective on our patron’s true and complete experience, what do we do with it? The truth is, this is where the fun begins. You can use your marketing intuition and experience to map out various touch-point opportunities. You can also augment those ideas with a service like Moment Mapping. Designed to help you create a robust, complete and engaging consumer experience, this service also adds a nice array of complimentary options that will make your institution shine. The result? New and current consumers will head into the world to tell everyone how great their experience — their complete experience — has been.




Getting (and Keeping it) Personal at Financial Institutions

By Blog, Consumer Experience, Personalization

Personal ServiceIn 2002, the futuristic thriller Minority Report predicted the world where with a subtle retina scan would allow retailers to offer their customers personalized discounts based on their purchase history. Today, this way of marketing is possible. The subtle retina scan of the film has been replaced by online activity. And with a little effort and our member service tips your financial institution can transform science fiction into marketing fact–and consumer satisfaction.

The future is now.

E-commerce personalization is working its way to a world where every email, every branch visit, every mobile offer and even every website visited will be personalized to your patron. It’s not only what many have experienced. It’s beginning to become what many expect.

Each day innovative brands are leading the way, ushering in a new age of customer experience. In this era, messages are more relevant. Offers are more accurate. And every customer interaction is customized.

Why wouldn’t financial institutions lead the way?

For decades, financial institutions have built their brands on the ability to know their customers better than their competitors. We pride ourselves in knowing each patron by name the moment they walk through the branch door.

In this new age, we can continue to see our patrons as more than a number. We can personalize their communications. We can give them a voice. Once we see technology as a way to be more involved in our patrons’ lives we can help shape the future of the digital customer experience. Our touch points can be more accurate, personalized and relevant.

The key to personalization? Listening.

By tracking real-time behavior, consumer data, interests, and preferences, we can better deliver personalized communications. This kind of information can be harnessed by tracking a broad collection of channels and utilizing sophisticated data analytic software and services. The technology that accomplishes these tasks is not just available; it has permeated our business.

And then, there is a new school of thought rooted in an old school philosophy. Marketers are simply asking their audience what they want. By talking to their customers and taking an interest in their needs, they discover new and different ways to craft a better customer experience.

Through technology or person-to-person conversations, marketers are taking personalization to a new level in a practice called predictive intelligence. This new practice involves forecasting a customer’s needs and delivering customized communications accordingly.

Where we are on the personalization curve.

This new form of marketing can come with a completely new set of challenges. The big data and real-time analytics needed to create potent personalized communications come with equally pervasive privacy concerns. Currently most marketers are justifying their deep dive into this trend by wanting to deliver the best customer experience possible.

A recent Forrester study interviewed more than 100 marketing executives to assess the significance of marketing personalization. While the technology isn’t new, the prevailing interest is. More than 70% of the executives interviewed felt that personalization was of great strategic importance. And while the importance of this trend is recognized, very few marketers are taking the lead. The study revealed that only 17% of CMOs are going beyond basic transaction data to create personalized marketing. The fact that 80% hope to do a better job utilizing this technology only proves that few companies are harnessing the true power of personalization.

Who’s doing it right and how?

Successful personalization marketers are beginning with stated customer preferences and purchase histories. More advanced practitioners are studying social sentiment, contextual behaviors, and location information to create a complete data personalization picture. They often partner with experienced big data providers, analytic consultancies, and data developers to collect and understand their customer’s needs.

To sum all of this up, the potential to build your institution’s brand utilizing marketing personalization is impressive. Loyalty can easily be built with messaging that is customized to fit the consumer. In the not-too-distant future, this way of creating and absorbing marketing messages will no longer be the exception but the rule. Consumers may soon expect and even demand their brands to hone their messaging to fit their needs. The fact that we aren’t listening and responding may be seen as a brand that just doesn’t care.