With the cost of acquiring new retail, small business or commercial customers being five to ten times the cost of retaining an existing one, and with the average spend of a repeat customer being 50% – 100% more than a new one, financial marketers need to remember that the most efficient investment of marketing funds is to market to customers that already bank with you. Here are seven relatively easy techniques to do just that.
1. Start With the Lowest Hanging Fruit
The easiest sales that can be made to current customers are engagement services that help a customer use an account they already own. These ‘sticky services,’ that are also part of most financial institution onboarding programs, include a debit card, online banking, mobile banking, direct deposit, bill pay, automatic savings transfer, personal line of credit and security solutions such as privacy protection.
These services help to ensure the customer will use the products they own more frequently, will significantly improve retention, and will help to improve the overall customer experience. Without customer engagement on the most basic product level, a relationship will have a difficult time growing.
2. Stay Connected
A friend of mine once said, “I was very impressed with how much love my bank gave me when I opened some new accounts, but amazed that I never really heard from them again except to tell me about new fees.” While some banks have very successful onboarding programs to help stay connected with new customers, a surprising number of banks still rely on the customer to onboard themselves. And unless the customer expands their relationship, their bank may never include them in a model-driven cross-sell program.
To succeed in cross-selling services to customers, a bank or credit union needs to keep the conversation going. This should be through email, direct mail, statement messaging, SMS texts and as part of the online and mobile banking platforms. Remember, however, that these messages must be personalized and highly targeted.
3. Continually Evaluate Upsell Opportunities
Rather than using product-driven programs that are done seasonally, consider funding more customer-focused programs that evaluate each customer’s propensity to open one or more of the products and services you offer at the time they would like to buy. At many financial institutions, each customer’s transactional, product ownership and even behavioral characteristics are evaluated continuously. This is done to determine the most likely next purchase at any given time and whether the propensity to purchase is high enough to make an offer.
In some of most successful programs, this evaluation of opportunities is done monthly, with smaller mailing universes, but much higher response rates. Some organizations are also using advanced analytics to provide contextual messages in real time. Customers want to be provided suggestions of services that will help them with their finances. Having the timing right is part of a great customer experience.
4. Empower Your Customer-Facing Employees
For most customer contact employees, their primary responsibility revolves around efficient processing of transactions and/or customer service. To leverage the thousands of customer engagements these employees have each year, you need to provide easy ways for them to extend their conversations to include relationship expansion opportunities.
Many financial institutions provide prompts on their employee’s computer screen around recent sales communications received by the customer, most likely products that may interest the customer, and even special offers that can be made as part of their transaction or service conversation.
The best programs don’t stop there, but include tools for the customer to take advantage of the offer. This may be an immediately generated custom printed sales document, a follow-up email, SMS text or sales call or a referral form. Adding to the power of branch-based sales is the increasing use of tablet-assisted employees at the branch level who can have all of the tools at their fingertips.
5. Ask for Referrals
One of the easiest ways to generate new business and increase loyalty of current retail or business customers is to ask (and possibly incent) for referrals. If a customer is happy with the way they are treated at your organization, they usually want others to know.
This is especially true with satisfied small businesses, private banking customers and with retail customers that are part of a bank-at-work program. And it doesn’t hurt if you provide an incentive to your current customer in addition to the prospect.
At a time when new customer acquisition offers often exceed $100 and when the overall cost of acquisition is more than $250, offering a ‘bounty’ of $50 would be far less expensive and would most likely generate a more loyal customer. A referral program, supported throughout the organization is a great way to engage employees as well.
6. Leverage Offline and Online Channels
Never assume that customers understand all that your organization offers or absorb communication the same through all channels. Remind your customers continuously that you know who they are, understand their needs, are looking out for them and that you are willing to reward them for their loyalty.
Using as many direct channels as possible to reach out to your current customer base is part of a strong multichannel marketing plan.This includes direct mail, email, statement inserts, banner ads on your website, ATM messaging, outbound calling efforts, etc. And don’t forget the use of the powerful online and mobile banking sites of the customer.
7. Measure and Reward What You Want Done
By providing ongoing measurement of the cross-selling objectives you want to achieve and paying for this achievement of these objectives, you have a much better chance of reaching your goals. This continuous reinforcement of your cross-sell mission allows your team to be focused on what’s important.
You can also turbocharge your results by communicating how you are assisting in their efforts. Provide “opportunity reports” of the customers where they may have the greatest opportunity for success. As part of these reports, it is also helpful to provide background as to why the customer is being selected for a specific offer.
Finally, remember that current customers like to be rewarded for their loyalty. One of the best ways to do this is to remember to include an offer with any cross-sell or upsell message. Without an offer, you may be perceived as simply ‘pushing product’ without leveraging the relationship value already in place.
A strong offer will not only generate a better response to your communication, but also remind the customer of the value of doing business with your organization.