Lessons on client engagement... from Pokémon GO?

July 22, 2016 by Addison Faul

About the author:

Addison Faul

Technology adoption manager

Addison counsels Advicent’s largest partners through business need evaluation and solution design. Before being recruited to his current role, he spent four years working with high-net-worth clients at JPMorgan Chase & Co. Leveraging his previous client-facing experience and expert knowledge of the software, he assists in developing strategies for advisors to succeed when collaborating with technology solutions.

You may have noticed many more people than normal out and about lately, heads tilted down, glued to their phones. Chances are you have played or have seen someone playing the latest mobile game craze, Pokémon GO. The mobile phone app that has been sweeping the nation for the last week or so since its release is getting scores of people out of the house and exploring their neighborhoods. And it is not just your traditional gamers; everyone from kids to adults, fast food workers to white collar professionals are out there trying to “catch them all."

The numbers and data behind the phenomenon back up the real world observations as well. According to The Financial Brand, in the first 48 hours after the United States release, Pokémon GO achieved a larger install base than the popular dating app Tinder. Does this reality imply catching virtual characters is more important to Americans than relationships? Doubtful, but the users are certainly focusing a lot of their time and mobile data in an artificially sublimated world. Tech Crunch reports that in less than a week, Pokémon GO has had more daily active users than Twitter. Additionally, the players spend more time on their phones in the game than they do on Facebook, which holds the number two spot for time spent in top mobile apps.

Pokémon GO mirrors trends in the financial industry

It is amazing to see the peaceful organization of humans doing something together, especially considering the political and racial bifurcation our country has seen in the news far too often lately. Twitter is awash with stories of unlikely friendships being made by people meeting over Pokémon GO. The augmented reality that Pokémon GO is mapped over is a true paradigm shift in the gaming space in that it requires the player to leave the couch and walk about. We can see a similar change in the financial industry as well.

In the same parallel that this app takes the user away from a traditional gaming environment (at home on their television or computer) and channels them into a new setting, financial technology is taking the user away from a traditional physical banking and financial services locations and creating a new space for the user to engage in. The Financial Plan noted this quote from Brett King, host of Breaking Banks: “Pokémon GO isn’t a banking app, but it does give us a glimpse into how very different the world of banking, investment and financial advice will be in 10 year’s time. The game also illustrates why banking is no longer a place you go, but something you do – on a phone.”

How to compete in the evolving financial industry

How do you survive in an ever-evolving tech environment, especially when you are not technologically advanced by trade or through industry norms? First, you need to understand how to engage your clients as effectively as an addicting game can. Alexey Pajitnov invented one of the most powerful pharmatronics – a video game with the potency of an addictive drug. The game? Tetris. The psychology and success of Tetris comes down to its ability to innately hold human attention by continually creating unfinished tasks. Tetris also goes one step further, creating a continual chain of frustration and satisfaction of goals. At its core, it is appealing to our inner child. This is the same part of our body responsible for a lot of emotional decision making, whether rational or not. Gamification of a goal calls on deeper subconscious human behavior to compete, interact, and complete the task.

Can we in the financial industry monetize and engage the inner child, pulling on the more primal emotional needs of play and discover? Absolutely. In rethinking personal financial behavior, we also need to rethink the space it is played in. Dan Latimore, SVP of Celent, a research and consulting firm focused on the application of information technology in the global financial services industry, states, “Today’s sensation shows that people like to be engaged in what they’re doing, have challenging but achievable goals, and compete against others. Banks should be asking how they can leverage these characteristics to increase engagement with their customers.”

Narrator® Clients, the newest technology offering from Advicent, allows the client to be at the forefront of the financial planning process. It is a way to capture and unlock some of that intrinsic human behavior that makes an activity addictive. Narrator Clients also introduces that aspect of gamification – allowing the client to play a part in the process instead of simply being a recipient of advice. Financial planning, like Tetris, is made up of a series of frustrations and (hopefully) satisfaction of goals. With Narrator Clients, the client now is placed in a position to engage in their journey to success and slide their own blocks to achieve those goals.

Click here to learn about Narrator Clients, the new interactive client portal from Advicent, or call (855) 885-7526 to speak with an Advicent representative.