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PCBB Banc Investment Daily March 15, 2016
Banc Investment Daily
March 15, 2016

Give Your Customers A Treat

What is the most loyal breed of dog? We thought this might be an easy question, but after a bit of Internet research, we're left unsure of the answer. Iheartdogs.com says it's the Great Pyrenees, while barkpost.com suggests sheepdogs. Entirelypets.com offers up the Rough Collie (we did not know that collies have this tougher edge to them, at least in their formal name). Weluvpuppies.com and pet360.com both rank German Shepherds first, with the latter website citing an official with Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in support. Celebrity dog psychologist Cesar Millan (the Dog Whisperer) has done a bit more work: He says he reviewed six Internet lists that named 22 different breeds, with only the German Shepherd, Brittany, and Kuvasz listed on all of them. Now you know!
There may be a similar bit of dissonance with banks and their customer loyalty programs, we suspect. The Deluxe Corp. commissioned a survey of companies across various industries, including the financial sector. One of the primary questions: What are the top three objectives for your customer loyalty strategy? Interestingly, more financial institutions (66%) answered "acquire new customers" than said "retain existing customers" (56%). This ran counter to the overall results, where more companies of all kinds cited retention (54%) than acquisition (49%). A Director of Product Management looked at the numbers and said "somewhat ironically, the biggest objective for financial institutions offering loyalty program is not actually loyalty."
Consider a key finding of a survey conducted by Forrester Research that found: Only 13% of the bank leaders surveyed were "completely satisfied" with their own customer loyalty programs. The majority, 53%, were "somewhat satisfied." The "somewhat unsatisfied" and "completely unsatisfied" made up 9% and 6%, respectively. Apparently 16% of bankers were unable to pick from among these choices. Of note, the number of "completely unsatisfied" banking respondents was twice the level of non-financial respondents.
What were the characteristics of the satisfied ones? Well, Deluxe research found that banks that used multiple communication channels with their customers also tended to express more satisfaction with their loyalty programs. Financial institutions are greater users of call centers and mass media than companies in other industries, but adoption of modern tech methods may be lagging. Less than 33% of respondents currently use online chat, or websites, applications and messaging optimized for mobile phones. Further, a significant number of respondents say they "plan to use" these features, but adding their numbers to the users would still result in 30% to 40% of financial institutions leaving these out of loyalty programs.
When all is said and done, the data indicates some bankers may be focusing on the wrong metrics in designing loyalty programs. So maybe it is time to take a fresh look at your rewards program to see if you have incorporated enough technology and customer desires. Are you up to date, when was the last time you updated these programs and do your customers love them or seem not to care very much? Doing so can help you make sure you get a "best in show" award.