It’s Not Relationship Building If Customers or Members Feel Ignored
Boy are we fired up about this post! Last week The Financial Brand (one of the best blogs we know of for bankers) reprinted an infographic based on a study of 1,002 bank customers (credit unions, don’t stop reading yet) by Maritz Research. Three findings that really got our attention were:
- 49% of those surveyed feel ignored by their bank
- 79% of product and service related mailings were felt to be irrelevant
- 84% said they wanted some kind of communication they are not getting
This is borne out by the percent of consumers in the study who said they would definitely open another account… BUT, that number was directly proportional to how valued they feel. There was a steep decline in those numbers the less valued people felt. This is significant!
With a mammoth 84% of consumers wanting communication they aren’t getting, it’s a miracle that 49% number isn’t bigger. So where’s the disconnect? It has everything to do with a major conclusion of the study: “Most consumers want their bank to engage with them, but only if their banker gets to know them first.”
Once again it’s demonstrated most bankers are missing a huge revenue-generating and relationship-building opportunity with customers and members who are eager to be contacted. Folks, they’re practically begging for relevant attention!
Two Blunders You Can Avoid
Blunder #1: Customer onboarding is not seen as an opportunity to create an ongoing dialogue valuable to the customer or member.
Don’t get lulled into thinking your onboarding program alone is enough to engage customers or members – not the way we see most onboarding programs implemented. Instead of just asking if they got their new checks or just trying to sell them another product, we suggest you train your staff to ask some relevant questions that help to get to know them better, create a customer profile and enter the information into a CRM system. That can prevent committing a faux pas (like marketing sending them some irrelevant direct mail piece) and sending a message they are just a number.
Of the survey respondents who felt “completely valued”, 71% said they would definitely open a new account. This was compared with only 23% of the group who felt “mostly valued.”
The emotional difference in the ratings seems minimal but the revenue-generating implications are staggering. How are you using onboarding to make new customers or members feel valued during and beyond the initial onboarding period? Why not have your staff let customers know they will be following up on an ongoing basis?
When a member mentions they want to improve their credit score or retire early, it’s an opportunity to take note, offer solutions, demonstrate you value their business and start building a trusting relationship. While onboarding is a best practice, many credit unions miss a big opportunity to expand relationships beyond the first 90 days and demonstrate you value the customer and their business.
Blunder #2: Focusing on new business only and ignoring existing customers or members.
Forty percent of the customers in the Maritz Study said they would welcome a check-in to see if they need anything. Did you catch that? They welcome a check-in. Sounds like an invitation! Again, believing your onboarding program alone is making customers or members feel valued could be a false sense of security. Let’s face it, some of your staff might think, “I sent my thank you note, made my 3 week and 3 month calls, tried to sell something but no luck. Now I’m done. Yes! Cross that one off my to-do list.”
It’s easy for a new member or customer to be impressed and feel valued when you follow up soon after the initial contact. This practice is a winner so keep it going. However, what about the customers or members who have been with you for 10 years or more, have a number of accounts and only use electronic services? The survey confirms they are likely to be thinking, “No one from the bank ever contacts me and they don’t even understand my needs. I must not be valued. I think I’ll shop around for my loan.”
Onboarding is not the end. It needs to be viewed as the beginning of a long-term relationship and not something your staff checks off their to-do list after two or three months*. That means your training must include a process for prioritizing who gets follow up and when. Also, include creative touchpoints throughout the year to stay top of mind.
Examples include acknowledging birthdays, anniversaries, sending educational tips and informing clients of special events. Caution: while 40% said they welcome a check-in, let’s avoid a blatant sales pitch and use the opportunity to discuss, listen and engage in value-added conversations.
Now the good news… with a caveat
The study showed most people want their bank to engage with them (and here’s the kicker) but only if their banker gets to know them first. Wow, another invitation to connect! So what does getting to know them mean? It means your staff is highly trained in engaging customers in meaningful conversations about their anxieties, future goals, dreams and life events.
With each contact, they build trust and discover a bit more always asking, “What don’t I know about this customer or member?” Most of all, they capture this key information in their customer or member profile, manage the relationship and anticipate what solutions they can offer.
Talk it Over…
Take a moment to digest and reflect on the above insights. Then discuss the following questions with your leadership team:
- Are we ignoring our long-term customers or members that no longer visit our branches?
- How can we reach out and reconnect with them in a way that builds trust?
- Have we trained staff on how to build the customer or member relationship during onboarding? (ask us how High Definition People®can help)
- When our staff make follow up calls are they just courtesy calls or product pitches?
- How can we make our written, electronic and voice mail communications more relevant and personalized?
- Have we trained our staff on how to continue building relationships with our customers or members after the initial onboarding ends? (again, ask how High Definition People®can help)
Thanks for reading our post. We welcome your comments, insights and ideas—please post your thoughts below!
— Barb and Bob
We are interested in your feedback. In the comments section below, please tell us whether you agree or disagree with the ideas in this post. Also, what challenges or questions do you have that we can answer in this post?
How We Can Help You!
At High Definition Banking® our goal is to help banks and credit unions generate revenue. However, we know that selling through customer relationship management beats transactional selling over the long term. To learn why, read our post, Declining Branch Traffic – Armageddon or Opportunity?
Ask about our training on onboarding, relationship building and sales leadership, and our relationship culture consulting process, and have Barb give an energizing and idea-packed presentation at your next sales meeting or employee event. Email Bob@HighDefinitionBanking.com for more information or Contact Us.