Industry, Slideshow

Bank Customers Would Rather Switch than Fight

Tareyton Cigarette Ad 1965Back in the 1960’s James Jordon of the BBDO agency created a campaign for Tareyton cigarettes that became a catchphrase in the industry and beyond: “Us Tareyton smokers would rather fight than switch.” There were print ads showing models with black eyes and even a television commercial before cigarette ads were banned from TV. While a parody of real customer loyalty, the idea that a customer would fight to keep their brand of anything is a marketers dream.

The flip side of that catchphrase is a marketer’s nightmare – customers who would rather switch than fight. Welcome to the banking industry where customers have had a lot to get fighting mad about. The financial meltdown of 2008 and its aftermath left most consumers pretty soured by the whole financial industry – not just banking. The subsequent investigation of the financial industry, price gouging information provided by the newly formed CFPB and the rebounding profits of “too big to fail” organizations while foreclosures ran rampant only deepened the distrust and ill feelings. The downward trust spiral may have bottomed out with the formation of an official “Bank Transfer Day,” an activist campaign encouraging consumers to flee the large banks by November 5, 2011.

Consumers are still only slowly becoming more educated about banking business practices but, very quickly becoming aware that they have options. With the CFPB breathing down their necks, banks are improving business practices, making disclosures more transparent, and trying to win back customers with better customer experience. One prime example is SunTrust Bank.

Greg Holzwarth, SVP and Managing Director of SunTrust Bank’s Client Information Group has been on the speaking and webinar circuit discussing his institution’s extensive  client experience redesign involving  branches, call centers, their website and print to address specific loyalty behaviors. SunTrust’s Chairman and CEO William H. Rogers wrote “We believe that delivering industry-leading service quality will lead to improved client loyalty and increased consumer wallet and market share,” in a letter to shareholders in 2012.

Consumers can become extremely loyal almost “addicted” to brands (even if they don’t contain nicotine) when those brands pay attention to what their customers want and need and deliver it consistently, transparently, even caringly. SunTrust’s Holzwarth credits data and analytics for their customer experience improvements. No doubt analytics is a key ingredient but analytics with a bad attitude will just give banks the black eye from the Tareyton ad without the customer loyalty.

If you want your bank customers to have a great customer experience, you have to commit to becoming a great bank.

Elizabeth Gooding

Elizabeth Gooding is the editor of the Insight Forums blog and president of Gooding Communications Group

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