There are no hard and fast rules for customer retention in financial institutions. With such a competitive market driven by costs as well as customer service, you have to present a consistent message and engage with your customers frequently or you lose them when the next market shift occurs. This is especially true if your company has to move critically with markets and make business decisions that are not always customer friendly, such as selling serving of mortgages, which can put your relationship with your customers at risk.
While you can’t control the market, you do have control over your retention campaign, and it should be executed with seriousness and attention to detail – as though each interaction with your customer might be your last. Let’s look at some of the tactics that any financial institution, whether it be a bank or trading office, could implement to keep customers engaged.
Understand Your Customers
Knowing your customers beyond their investment in your company is the first critical step to creating a retention program. Anyone in the sales or marketing function understands relationship building both socially and professionally. The more you know about your customer, the more you can do to keep them. Think about it. The customers that have been with you the longest are the ones that have interacted with you the most in a positive manner and value your relationship.
Start looking at your customer list and fill in the blanks with surveys or through conversations with customer service representatives. Do they have kids? Where are they in their career? Do they own a new home, or are they looking to buy? Many life decisions have a financial impact. We call these events “triggers”.
An Ounce of Prevention
Knowing how to anticipate life changes or “triggers” is a critical aspect of retention. Once you fill in the blanks for your customer list, it’s time to start thinking about why customers leave you. Typically they do it after an unsatisfying interaction, or before their next purchase. In the first instance, the focus should be on improving customer service and creating positive interactions. But the latter of the two is more important. When they prepare to make the next purchase, do you have enough equity with them to be involved in that decision?
Anticipating, offering, and reassuring them in their the next purchase decision is going to be paramount for your retention process. Your competition comes into play as well if they offer a compelling product that competes with yours. Stay ahead of them with what you have, which is open communication with your customer and a better knowledge of who they are.
Meet Their Needs
Once you have an idea of what events or triggers are coming up in your customers’ lives, you can start to understand and reach out to them with effective messages that meet their needs, or help them in these times of transition. The level of detail here is completely dependent on your data.
For example, if you know if your customers are engaged or married you could look at loans for honeymoons, or creating joint retirement accounts. Once started on this exercise our clients have no trouble creating message points that would be relevant to triggers. The key is to identify the triggers, create a plan, and execute it. The execution could come in the form of emails, phone calls, direct mail, or social media.
It’s all about communicating with them on their terms with messages that resonate.
After your plan is in action, keep records of all the events and messages you send out. We are advocates of measuring every piece of marketing to evaluate its success. Retention plans should be the same way. Keeping a log, or updating your contact list with new triggers is a great way to stay on top of your investment in the campaign and allows you to see real results. Take special care to track referrals, as that is great way to really serve the customers that promote you.
You have a limited window to retain your customers and the key is developing an understanding of your customers as individuals. Technology can help you keep track, but acquiring the information is most important. If you need help setting up a retention program at your office, contact us today for a free phone consultation at 240.575.5887.