Banks: Bringing back the hometown feel

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I’m attending a Bank Administration Institute (BAI) event in Las Vegas this week. BAI is well-respected for its research, professional development and networking opportunities for banks and banking professionals. The conference, BAI Retail Delivery, is primarily attended by community banks and large regionals, but the topics are anything but colloquial. They range from customer sentiment and retention to mobile marketing, regulatory and gaming apps. The first session I attended had consumer trust in the title, but ended up covering social media best practices.

As banks emerge from the worst crisis and recession in recent history, banking execs are looking for ways to regain that ‘hometown’ feeling with their customers. “Marketing Post-Crisis: Rebuilding Consumer Trust through Innovation,” seemed to offer insight for that. The panel members were Rilla DeLorier, CMO of Sun Trust Bank; Paul Kadin, Marketing Director of CitiGroup; Debbie Bianucci, President and CEO of BAI; and Sanat Rao, Vice President of Global Sales and Alliances at Finacle.

Rao began with findings from a recent consumer survey. He said that there are groups within today’s banking segment where consumer sentiment is improving. When asked “How likely are you to be at same bank a year from now?” 95 percent said likely. But Rao pointed out that there is considerable room for improvement since only 84 percent would recommend their bank.

An audience member questioned (possibly prompted by recent changes in regulatory rules) whether fee increases would drive customers away. Rao didn’t believe research supported those fears. He said, “A single bad experience can be a bigger factor in driving a customer away from your bank than price increases.”

Improving customer sentiment

Although the survey offered five ways banks can use innovation to improve - the top three are channels, customer experience and operational processes – these panelists concentrated on customer experience and specifically used social media as their tool of choice. Here are the best practices they cited:

  • Social media is only one part of the customer experience.
  • Deliver on the promise!
  • To establish credibility, talk about your CUSTOMERS and not yourself!!!
  • To engage or reengage your customer, don't talk about yourself. It's about your CUSTOMER!
  • Be targeted, human and engaging.
  • To change a consumer's mind you must make a substantive, demonstrative change.

Sun Trust’s DeLorier says social media can be used to flip unfriendlies to evangelists. “Customers are surprised that you are listening.” She also added, “New regulatory demands shouldn't be an excuse to turn away from customer-focused actions.”

Stay in touch with the BAI Retail Delivery discussions by following the Twitter hashtag #retaildelivery and the discussions on the BAI LinkedIn group. I’ll be tweeting during the sessions I attend and others are as well. Tell us what you are thinking about these issues.

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About Author

Waynette Tubbs

Editor, Marketing Editorial

+Waynette Tubbs is the Editor of the Risk Management Knowledge Exchange at SAS, Managing Editor of sascom Magazine and Editor of the SAS Tech Report. Tubbs has developed a comprehensive portfolio of strategic business and marketing communications during her career spanning 15 years of magazine, marketing and agency work.

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