Better Connecting with Customers

by Stan Cowan

Financial Institutions are looking for that magical nirvana that combines high-tech and high-touch to effectively connect with their clients. Some accomplish this by cross-selling to existing clients.  Others achieve a consistent experience by implementing omni-channel initiatives.  Still others attempt to use a big data strategy that combines all facets of the organization with internal and external data sources and expert tools for effective analytics.

While these are all relevant and important initiatives in winning the coveted Primary Financial Institution status, not all banks have the time, money or people necessary to reach these objectives. Let’s consider ways to use your existing resources to increase share of wallet, consumer loyalty and client advocacy.

Getting to know your client base

Your MCIF and CRM systems tell you a lot about your current clients – where they live, how often they visit a branch and what products and services they do and don’t have with your financial institution. You may even have imported third-party appended data, along with transaction information, to show behavioral patterns.  Segmentation and targeting using these tools is a great baseline upon which to build.  But, why did they choose your bank?

Since 30 to 40 percent of households are single-service, earning more business from your existing clients is paramount to reaching your organization’s goals. So start by asking them why they don’t consider you as their primary financial institution.  Perhaps some clients are high-touch and visit a branch often or call to check their balances on a regular basis.  Does this segment differ from those who prefer digital channels (high-tech) like your website or mobile app?

Go beyond typical data analytics and segmentation tactics. Start answering these questions by getting personal with your clients.  Think about how your front-line staff currently interacts with your customers.  Consider having the front line ask questions like:

  • I see you have some loans elsewhere. Would you like to see if we can save you some money?
  • What are your financial goals, concerns or questions?
  • Are you looking for a new vehicle? A new home? Expecting a baby?
  • Any children getting ready to attend college?
  • Is there a wedding in the near future?



There is a better way to get these answers with minimal cost and faster turn-around time.

Using loans as the example and assuming you have good email address penetration, you can craft an electronic survey for your existing client base. Set it up to automatically track answers back to the each participant and decide if you want one survey per household or per client. Consider not using an incentive the first time around so you have a benchmark for future survey responses.

Studies have shown that consumers want a more personalized experience when it comes to banking. An eSurvey will help you do just that. Think about the questions that should be asked. (Hint: Look at what you ask them in person now.)

It’s time to create the email request asking for their participation.  After you’ve got your invitation copy and survey link embedded, you’ll need a way to track each response for segmenting and targeting purposes.  If you have an MCIF system, this is easy.  Each household already has a randomly-generated, unique identifier number associated with it.  So when building your email, be sure to include this field as the tracking mechanism behind the scenes.

Within a couple of days of launching the email, you’ll be amazed of just how many members respond – and how quickly! Analyze and segment your results so you can use the unique identifier to import these results back into your MCIF. Then, start performing queries for those customers who said they need an auto, home or business loan in the next three months.  Then you’re off and running.  This is target marketing at its best—helping each customer when and how they need it as you achieve your own organizational goals.

What’s next?

In three months, you’ll have some hard results to share with your CFO and CEO in terms they will appreciate – a truly trackable ROI on marketing! You’ll learn and improve with each campaign going forward.  What segments respond better to an electronic survey?  What segments respond to each of your targeted offers?  Remember to also track how each segment responded and through which channel, so you can personalize future offerings.

A few months later you’ll be ready to target the next segment saying they were in need of an auto, home or business loan four to six months after your first survey. Then it’s time to survey your new customers who haven’t yet begun the survey process (this could even be part of your new client onboarding process).

Tapping into client loyalty

While you’re taking steps to improve share of wallet for existing clients, why not also ask them to speak on your behalf to their friends? They already like you, you know who they are and they have friends just like them.  Makes sense, right?  Need more proof?  Here are some statistics from a recent Nielsen study:

  • 92% of consumers say they trust earned media, recommendations from those they trust.
  • People are 4x more likely to purchase when referred from a trustworthy source.
  • A referred client has a 16% higher lifetime value.
  • Multiplying the effect, those that are referred and purchase are 18% more loyal than others obtained by other methods and they also purchase 13% more.

That same study also found that 70% of consumers say they trust recommendations posted online. So incent them to share positive online comments through social media and other methods.

We’re talking about the typical Refer-A-Friend program.  Most banks attempt to gain new accounts while others target additional products and services from existing clients by using segmentation and targeting techniques.  Most offer rewards to both the referrer and the referee, but the process is often times limited to paper forms which can be awkward to share (and contain personal account information).  And the forms must be manually redeemed physically at a branch, making tracking and reporting very cumbersome.  It’s now wonder these refer-a-friend programs don’t product the results we desire.

Improve the efficiency of these programs by powering online referrals from your most loyal clients while making it easier for them to share with others, encouraging them to have fun and rewarding those who already love your organization.

Integration at the core

Remember those random, unique household numbers you used in your eSurvey/email earlier? Now, they can be used as each household’s personal refer code.  To create synergy within the entire organization (marketing, training, operations, lending and IT) the first step is to import the refer codes into your core so that a universal source for marketing, sharing, tracking and even rewarding can exist.

Enlist the help of IT programmers to create a process that allows staff to search for refer codes for new account openings. Incorporate the ability to automatically credit both the referee and the referrer immediately after the new account has been opened.  Use different criteria and incentives for promoting new clients and additional accounts for existing ones.

Does this work? Absolutely.  After first launching this at a $1.2 billion financial institution, I found in the first month alone a 179% increase in new clients and a 134% improvement in products/services per new client compared to months without incorporating refer codes and the electronic sharing capability enabled.

Beyond marketing

When you’re able to involve many areas within your bank—such as IT, operations and lending—it becomes so much more than just a campaign from the marketing department. It’s your job to make it fun and easy for the other areas to assist in your goals.  After all, the right programming makes the account-opening process seamless.  Buy-in from senior management empowers your front-line staff and increases employee and member engagement.  And a little friendly competition between branches or departments can help keep everyone’s spirit up.

So there you have it. A couple of proven ways to better connect with your clients, increase share of wallet and leverage the loyalty of your existing clients.

Stan Cowan is Senior Solutions Marketing Manager at D+H. Email: [email protected] LinkedIn: stancowan