The novelty of digital is wearing off—across financial services and in society generally. Here’s why your organization needs to learn to say more with less.

The 2019 Fjord Trends report is packed with insights, but one in particular jumped out at me: 63 percent of British schoolchildren now say they would be happy if social media had never been invented. Half of Britain’s Generation Z (the demographic cohort younger than Millennials) have quit at least one social media platform, or are thinking about it.

These figures are powerful because they suggest that we’re approaching an inflection point for digital. Since the adoption of digital has driven the last generation of innovation in capital markets, banking, and insurance, such an inflection point would have huge implications across financial services.

Of course, skepticism about the digital world is not restricted to British minors. Some voices calling for less cutting-edge tech in our lives can even be found within the tech sector. The Center for Humane Technology, for instance, is a group of former employees at big tech firms who are so alarmed by the harm caused by smartphones and social media that it’s raising awareness of technology “hijacking our minds and society.”

Fjord’s annual report, crowdsourced from its 1,000 design and innovation experts around the globe, calls this trend “Silence is Gold,” because it signals a growing appreciation for technologies and organizations that know when to be quiet.

“The values users seek from the products, services and organizations we choose to interact with are shifting,” the report reads. “Where once we celebrated novelty, excitement and instant gratification, we now reject organizations that shout to get our attention.”

But shouting for attention is easy to spot in this industry. Anyone with an online presence today—everyone, in other words—is subject to a daily bombardment of digital pleas for attention. Most banks, insurers, and capital markets firms gladly contribute to that bombardment. Fjord’s report suggests that tolerance for this bombardment is waning.

The solution is obvious in one sense: turn down the volume. In another sense, it’s tricky, for how can this be done without throwing the metaphorical baby out with the bathwater?

Yet communicating with customers less frequently doesn’t have to drag down bottom-line business performance. Giving customers what they ask for should open doors, not close them.

That won’t happen on its own. If customer messaging is to be less frequent, care must be taken to ensure that those messages that do go out are as potent and punchy as possible. Financial services organizations in 2019 should audit their messaging strategies and only retain those messages that contribute to top-line performance. Talking to customers for its own sake is likely to irritate them.

For many banks, insurers, and capital markets firms, such an audit will require shifting the way they think about the metrics of success in business communication. Many traditional measures of communication’s efficacy are tenuously tied to top-line performance. Strengthening those ties (and, where they don’t exist, creating them) will empower your organization to effectively evaluate which communications are creating value for customers and which are not.

If you’re stuck for ideas on how to start that process, I’d love to hear from you. My contact information can be found at the top of this post.

Stay tuned for my next post in this series, which will look at another trend from the 2019 Fjord Trends report. The full report can be found here.

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