Zehnder Communications, Inc.

WANTED: Relationship providing love, security, personal and financial growth. And freedom.

Bank Relationships - ZehnderWho wouldn’t want this kind of relationship with their bank?

For decades, banks have tried to be a financial soulmate for their customers, but few get it right. Why?

It could be that banks have bigger priorities like their bottom lines. Maybe consumers contradict themselves sometimes when communicating their banking needs. Maybe it’s a little of both.

Zehnder wanted to know how well banks and consumers see eye to eye, so we conducted our own primary research. A survey of 400 consumers and 100 bankers nationwide helped us understand these relationships and where the perception gaps exist. 

The findings show that banks believe they do a good job relating to customers, but that’s not necessarily the view from customers’ perspectives. 

Based on their responses, bankers and customers were clearly not aligned in terms of an equitable relationship. While 80 percent of bankers felt strongly that they had a relationship with customers, only 56 percent of consumers felt they had a relationship with their bank.

Relationship Banking Survey - Zehnder

We found other differences when it came to gender and age. Older customers were more likely to rank their banking relationship significantly higher than younger customers. That’s not surprising, given younger customers’ embrace of mobile and online banking. 

Other industry research has shown that millennials prefer banking with minimal fuss, and they turn to technology to do it. Yet, a Gallup survey found that 66 percent of millennials said they visited a bank branch in the last six months. All of which suggests that millennials enjoy online and mobile banking, but they still need a human relationship. Banks best serve customers when they make humans available.

Regarding gender, Zehnder found that males were more likely than females to indicate they have a strong relationship with their banks. This tends to affirm research from accounting giant PwC, in which 73 percent of females said they were dissatisfied with the financial services industry. Among their most common complaints: a lack of respect, receiving conflicting advice and getting worse rates than males. Bankers need to do a better job of connecting with female customers.

So, how do banks answer customers’ want ads? By delivering financial advice on multiple channels that meets the consumer’s need for love, attention and financial growth while not smothering them. Here are 4 ways:

  1. Become a resource for education and mentoring across all your marketing channels. If you’re a small-business bank, for example, consider presenting a workshop series on entrepreneurialism or how to start a business. If you need to grow a younger customer base, try developing social and blog content with tips on building wealth, retirement planning or managing money after college. The underlying idea is developing an understanding of what your customers want and what they need to feel fulfilled.
  2. Look at your website’s traffic patterns and the clues they offer with social content. Banks often have opportunities to remarket products and services via email and programmatic advertising. Take a look, for example, at customers who carry a high checking account balance each month, and suggest they make an extra mortgage payment. For customers with multiple accounts, let them know how consolidation can lower their fees. 
  3. Purpose-driven or cause marketing can lead to big dividends with customer loyalty, especially among millennials. Research shows consistently that younger consumers have higher regard for companies with a strong sense of purpose beyond financial success. They’re also more likely to engage with brands that are deeply ‒ and genuinely ‒ rooted in goodwill. Find causes that matter to your own organization as a starting point, then find ways of engaging your target customer base. 
  4. Tune your mobile tech to your customers’ needs. We know, for example, that females typically carry less cash than males. Offering cashless options like mobile P2P can be especially appealing to women. Additionally, females may need ATM access more often than males. Try adding a mobile app feature that offers a map of the closest branches and ATMs based on the customer’s physical location. These kinds of measures can reinforce your concern for safety and convenience.

Every customer has a slightly different and unique need for your products and services. That’s to your advantage. Look for those differences, embrace them and use them as opportunities to make customers feel like individuals. They’re much likelier to sense a connection and a real want-ad match. 

Relationship Banking - Zehnder

Jennifer Boneno is Director of Account Services for Zehnder Communications, a fully integrated advertising and marketing agency. Reach her at Visit Zehnder to see some of our past experience in the space. 

At Zehnder, we help banks grow relationships though smart marketing strategies and innovative digital marketing tactics.  Does your bank need help with relationship marketing or brand growth? At Zehnder we have a proven method that works, but don’t take our word for it.  Check out what our friends at Origin Bank have to say about their recent relationship marketing campaign

Note: Zehnder conducted primary research in 2018. Banker n=100. Customer n=400. Participants equally distributed throughout South, West, Northeast and Midwest regions of the United States.


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