Published in Financial Services

The Other 99.9%

Financial infographic - excerpts for postWas the account manager friendly? Did the account manager fully explain how to use your new accounts? How likely would you be to recommend the bank to a friend?

Yes, these are typical questions that a bank customer may be asked in a customer satisfaction survey after they have opened a new account at a bank. Important stuff. The bank has to perform well when customers come to the branch or contact a call center.

It’s been about 14 years since I opened my current bank accounts. I have opened some other accounts over the years for my kids and I visit the branch a few times a year. In total, I have spent maybe 20 hours in the branch over the last 14 years. It seems obvious, but my relationship with my bank is not defined by the few hours I have spent at their branch or on the phone with them. That time is less than 0.1% of the length of my relationship with them.

So why should banks care about the other 99.9% of the customer’s experience?

My experience is not unique. Recent research Maritz conducted shows that banking customers want more from their bank when it comes to communication and support. In fact, 84% of banking customers want some kind of communication from their bank that they are not getting today, and half of banking customers say their bank has never really checked in with them to see how things are going. For those of you wondering, most consumers do not see a customer satisfaction survey as checking in with them. It’s seen as impersonal and more about the company’s performance than about the customer’s experience and needs going forward.

Perhaps it’s not surprising given the figures above, but only 23% of bank customers feel their bank completely values them as a customer. This perception has a huge impact on the customers’ willingness to extend their business with the bank into other financial products and services.

Banks should quit stalking their customers and start talking with them.

It’s not just that customers want communication they are not getting, more than three quarters of the communication they do get from their bank (excluding statements) is seen as irrelevant. So, with all the big data analysis going on, customers still feel as though they are being spammed by their bank. Why? Just like customer satisfaction surveys, the communication is impersonal, and can be perceived as Big Brother-ish. Customers want to be helped—not sold to. When customers feel they have been helped they will more readily buy the bank’s products and services and be loyal. This doesn’t mean the big-data analysis is way off, but perhaps banks should use the information differently to have a more relevant conversation with their customers.

Over the past several years, banks have been accumulating more and more services and products (direct and through partners) that can be offered to their customers. Better engagement with customers on a consistent basis will lead to greater loyalty and much greater take-up of other product lines.

The other 99.9% is not unique to banking. The same situation applies to a lot of other industries like automotive, wireless, cable, utilities, computing and electronics just to name a few. Customers, especially those among the younger generations, want to be treated as individuals and do not want their time to be wasted by companies they do business with. Technology and big data are great enablers, but we should remember that they are not solutions in and of themselves. In this case, what matters is how technology and big data are used to engage customers as individuals, creating opportunities by supporting their needs and becoming a trusted partner.

Be sure to check out the full infographic from our study of banking customers, as well as similar research we conducted on automotive customers.

What are you doing about the other 99.9%?  Check out more of Maritz’ ideas.