Financial Marketing and Cross Selling Blog
For years the financial services industry has researched over and over again what their customers are looking for. What are the most important attributes to the relationship they have with their customer? What promises would be most likely to attract new customers? The word service is always at the top or near the top of the list. So what did the marketers and ad agencies do? They all claimed to have great service. But that misses the boat. People define service differently.
When I was in Citibank’s credit card marketing group in the late 1980s we realized this. We found that we needed to define service in our marketing communications in order to make it a meaningful benefit. We were astonished to find that the strongest relationships were actually the ones that had previously had a problem. An inaccurate statement suddenly became an opportunity. It was the handling of the problem that built the stronger bond. A problem that was well handled was like glue to the relationship. We learned quickly and soon our TV commercials were demonstrating real people getting their problems solved by Citibank. We had defined service in the consumers mind and clearly put ourselves as the leader in providing that important benefit.
According to a recent article entitled Piloting for Multi-Channel Marketing by Alan Schiffres and Jim Bramlett of the bank consulting firm Novantas LLC, about 25% of retail bank customers almost never visit a branch after opening their first account and 50% are big users of remote channels instead of a branch. So how is a bank supposed to increase its cross selling when fewer customers are coming into the branch? That question is especially pressing now, when cross selling is seen as a necessity to shore up fee revenue lost under the new Dodd Frank regulation.
There is a way. Let’s think about how educational information links to a sale. Imagine that you want to build a fence in your back yard. It’s likely that you will seek information on how to build the fence before you buy the fence posts. Lots of top retailers are well aware of that. It is why Home Depot has educational information on fence building not only in their store but on their website where they can catch your eye while you are looking for help. They know quite well that if they provide the helpful information that you are looking for, you are likely to come to them to buy the fence posts.
We all know the phrase “you only get one chance to make a first impression.” This is never more true than with banks and credit unions today. Based on research completed by Truebridge, Cross Selling Success Factors, one of the biggest problems that financial institutions face when it comes to cross selling is that they are seen narrowly; as the place to go for transactions involving deposits and loans and not much more. How much easier would it be for banks and credit unions to cross sell if they were also seen as the place to go for so many other financial products that people buy as they move through life from sending kids to college to living in retirement. Research shows that people only buy an average of two out of ten financial products from their bank or credit union. That’s because these financial institutions often fail to take advantage of a golden opportunity to change perceptions.
Essentially, “Social Media” is really just a buzz word that has come to be used to describe the ever changing landscape of the internet that we’ve all grown to know so well. The phrase simply refers to all the social networks in existence and the way we, web users, customers, and brands interact with each other online today. Not only can a single social network be used as a marketing tool in itself, but integrating social media channels into your website gives you the power to leverage your website in ways that didn’t exist years ago. The difference between traditional websites and the ones within social media communities is the simple notion that traditional websites speak to a single customer at a time, where as social media sites allow everyone to have a voice. In this sense, social media is the catalyst that makes our everyday web experience so much more dynamic and it has opened the doors for individuals and brands to create their own unique online presence.
Mary Beth Sullivan from Capital Performance Group, in her recent blog article The Future of Branches: Reinvention in the Banking Strategies section of the BAI website proposed an interesting solution to retail branch profitability. It’s called sales. She referenced a huge market that banks can own by leveraging their branch network. This market is people who are looking for advice. Martha Stewart realized this a long time ago and built a business around it. People want to be told what to do. It holds true in personal finances as well. People are looking for simple and easy to understand information and guidance from someone they trust. And they will do business with the one who is there to provide it. This includes the enormous baby boom generation that has been turned upside down by the Great Recession. They want to be told what to do as they face retirement – without the confusing jargon.
A good reputation is undoubtedly important to any financial institution. It translates into more new and more loyal customers. A recent article in American Banker, discussed the results of the American Banker second annual survey of bank reputation. This 30 bank survey was conducted by the Reputation Institute an evaluated reputation across several dimensions including corporate citizenship, financial performance, governance, innovation, leadership, perceived workplace environment and products and services.
The article noted that BBVA Compass enjoyed the most improved image, moving up 11 slots into the No. 5 position. When asked about this, the bank responded by saying that they used social media such as Twitter to monitor and respond to complaints. In other words they listened to their customers and fixed their problems, building stronger relationships than existed before the problem. Problems can actually help build your brand. Their experience defined for them what good service is in banking.
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