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.
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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