Three Ways to Reduce Bank Customer Defection

By Doug Wilber

Retail banks in the U.S. are facing a major customer attrition challenges. According to a recent Bain report, customers make as many as 55 percent of financial-related purchases from their primary bank’s competitors. While primary banks may be able to retain customers’ savings and checking accounts, the report suggests that they’re likely losing out on lucrative sales when it comes to loans, credit cards and investments.

Considering that almost one-third of those who defected from their primary bank did so in response to a direct offer from a competitor, wise marketers will up their customer engagement and outreach efforts to retain more customers. Affordability of products is the top reason for customer defection, which marketers may not have much say in, but it isn’t the only contributing factor. Digitization has also been a major catalyst. Namely, the strong digital products and experiences that some banks offer—and others do not.

Bank marketers who can jump onboard the digitization train to meet customers where they are with engaging, valuable messaging will be much more likely to keep customers coming back again and again for each of their financial needs. The following strategies can help:

1. Put the human element front and center

Traditional banks have an innate advantage over digital direct banks: The human touch. Leveraging this benefit, especially when it comes to increasingly digital customer interactions, can lead to measurable improvements in customer retention.

One way to ensure the human touch remains part of every customer touchpoint is to focus on personalization. A February Insurance Thought Leadership piece revealed that 72 percent of people ignore marketing that’s not highly personalized. So targeting relevant content to the right recipients is essential, especially when digitization can easily strip the human element out of an interaction. Personalizing messaging and services to be relevant and valuable to the specific needs of each customer can bring the human element into focus even in a digital world.

One way to create more relevant, personalized outreach is to practice social selling, or leveraging a bank’s employees on social media. People can relate more to other people than they can to big brand names. When your employees are the ones getting in front of customers virtually, it humanizes the digital customer experience and sets the stage for trusting and loyal relationships to come. What’s more, employees also tend to have further reach and engagement on brand-related social posts than brand pages alone, so they can expand the impact of your messaging exponentially.

2. Create digital pathways to human interactions

When considering how to anchor all digital marketing for financial services around the human element, keep in mind that every pathway should connect prospects and customers directly to a human.

For example, a social media post from an employee could include a link to a landing page on your website where visitors can learn more valuable information on the topic of the post. On that landing page, you can include valuable content, such as a guidebook, behind an information request form. When users submit their names and email addresses, they will receive the content and your sales team members can reach out to them directly with a human-centric, personalized outreach approach.

When prospects and customers know they’re just an email or phone call away from a real person at your organization, they’re likely to turn to you instead of an impersonal digital direct bank for their next financial need.

3. Focus on customer retention just as much as acquisition

Bringing in new prospects gets a lot of attention from financial services marketers, sometimes at the expense of retaining current ones. But focusing on customer retention and continuously improving the digital customer experience will help secure more revenue when it comes to additional services such as loans and credit cards.

Listen to the needs of customers and keep refining your personalization tactics to meet their needs. Every time you get in front of a current customer with relevant, valuable messaging or content, you help build trust in that relationship and increase the chances of that customer coming to you for whatever service they need next.

It’s true that people will always be drawn to brands that offer more affordable products and services. But money isn’t the only reason people look outside of their primary bank to fulfill their financial needs. Banks that differentiate by focusing on digitization alongside the human element will find that it’s easier to keep current customers from looking for greener pastures.

Doug Wilber is the CEO of Denim Social, a social media management software company that provides tools to empower marketers in regulated industries to manage organic social media content and paid social media advertising on one platform.