By Barbara Sanfilippo
Customer loyalty to our bank was fading fast.
Imagine you’re a long-term, high-potential customer with your bank. You have several products with them, never visit a branch, only use automated and online services, and don’t know anyone at the branch. Would you feel you have a relationship with them?
That was us. Our 10-year “marriage” to our bank was not being nurtured in any way and, with all the business we gave them, we were disengaged and felt unappreciated. Plus, we rarely visited a branch and didn’t have a contact we knew. Although we felt some loyalty, it was weak and we were ready to leave.
However, one day our banking relationship was forever transformed by a single employee making a “warm” phone call. She used her relationship building skills to eventually transform us from disengaged customers into loyal customer advocates and generate revenue organically. So do you think it was an increase in her customer service that miraculously turned around the relationship? Not quite.
Service was good, but we felt disconnected.
We weren’t unhappy with the service because there were no serious service snafus. Plus we mostly used online banking and the call center. However, we weren’t getting any “warm fuzzies” and didn’t exactly feel valued. I guess you could say they wouldn’t be recruiting us for an “I love my bank” commercial!
Think about this: we had six products, including loans, and were not dissatisfied with service or rates. However, we decided to find a community bank that would appreciate us and make us feel like they had our best interests at heart. We vowed not to give any additional business to our bank.
How one employee solidified our customer relationship and got additional business.
Just as we began shopping other financial institutions, a lady named Emma called from our bank announcing she would be our personal banker and relationship manager. Our first thought was, “Now she’s going to try and sell us something.”
In that phone call and over the next 18 months, her relationship building skills led not only to our staying with the bank, but also our opening a business line of credit, refinancing our mortgage and getting a large HELOC. She was growing the bank’s business organically. Here’s what Emma did to win us over:
- In her warm introductory call, she did not pitch any products. Instead she thanked us for being loyal customers, explained her role as our relationship manager, reviewed our accounts, learned about our business and interests, and mentioned she would be in touch periodically.
- She recorded our conversations and financial goals in our customer profile in her CRM software, kept in touch, and anticipated our future needs.
- Emma built trust and began developing our customer loyalty over time—not in one phone call. In fact, we didn’t meet Emma in person until a year later. We value convenience, so phone and email communications work great for us. Building trust is the foundation for customers becoming advocates and it pays dividends. Is your bank still doing conventional sales training?
- An IBM Business Services study on advocacy in retail banking found that customers who are advocates of their bank are five times more likely to be responsive to offers and communications, are more profitable, and over 17 times as likely to trust their bank.
Emma, in essence, was “reboarding” us and re-engaging us with her outreach phone call.
Point of story: it wasn’t Emma’s sales skills that wowed us. It was her customer relationship management skills that turned us from disengaged customers into loyal advocates and generated a lot more business for her bank. If your staff is focused primarily on making a short-term sale and not on building the relationship, your bank may be at risk for losing valuable, high potential customers.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Is onboarding a new customer the end of the relationship in our bank, rather than the beginning of a partnership? Do we place too much focus on new customers?
- Are we missing opportunities to build deeper relationships and trust, grow organically, and retain our existing, “satisfied” customers with warm outreach calls?
- Are we more focused on monthly, product cross-selling or order-taking than building customer loyalty?
- Is it time we think about implementing a structured and personalized relationship building program that includes outreach and reboarding to connect with existing, disengaged customers who don’t visit our branches?
- Do our customers view us as an errand or transaction rather than a trusted financial partner?
- Is it possible our call nights and product email campaigns are repelling customers?
Note: Automatically generated product emails will not do the job. Reboarding is about warm calls to reconnect with and discover what’s important to your long-term customers and assigning them to your retail staff for future follow up.
Turn your personal bankers and FSRs into relationship managers, provide reboarding training, utilize customer profiles and assign them a book of business. A structured relationship building process is the key to organic growth and customer loyalty.
Barbara Sanfilippo is an award-winning business motivational speaker, coach and relationship consultant, and co-founder of High Definition Banking. Her training firm partners with banks to instill a structured relationship management process to accelerate organic growth and focus on the financial health of customers. She’s also author of a popular blog. How well is your organization doing on building customer relationships rate your relationship culture. Email: [email protected]. LinkedIn.