There are many contributing factors to a bank or credit union's ongoing success with its customer base. Perhaps the most important key to lengthy and mutually beneficial customer or member relationships, though, is bolstering share of wallet. Sure, it's a phrase you hear over and over in the financial industry, but is it really that important? Absolutely it is. There are direct correlations between share of wallet and customer retention and relationship length. Increased share of wallet means increased loyalty and satisfaction.

Here are five ways you can increase your share of wallet.

(1) Drive traffic

One of the key struggles banks and credit unions face with the onset of online and mobile banking is a missed opportunity for one-to-one communication with customers in branches. Ensure you're engaging with the community around you by hosting worthwhile or intriguing events in your branches, as well as bringing your staff out to serve others. Volunteerism and community service improve your reputation and give you the opportunity for face-to-face contact with potential and existing customers.

(2) Educate your customers

One hurdle inexperienced banking customers face is a lack of knowledge of products and services. Take the time to educate your customers and members by providing understandable, digestible materials beyond simply product brochures and flyers. Make applying for a mortgage or opening a retirement account simpler by providing your expertise in layperson terms.

(3) Stay on target

Campaigns can be as flashy and eye-catching as you want them to be, but if the message is muddled or confused, there will be no customer breakthroughs. Make sure that you employ targeted campaigns that take into consideration how certain demographics, such as age groups, prefer to be engaged, from language choice to marketing channel.

(4) Never miss a cross-sell

Your opportunities to cross-sell your products and services aren't limited to the teller counter. On your online or mobile banking platform, email newsletters, print collateral and educational materials there are ample chances to cross-sell in a targeted manner. Don't miss an opportunity to talk to a customer about a related product or service that he or she might find useful based on his or her stated interests.

(5) Keep in touch

Communication is key to cultivating a banking relationship. But it's important to remember to neither inundate inboxes nor ignore customers all together. Ensure that the content your providing is useful and pertinent to your recipients and that the frequency won't incite a spam designation. A J.D. Power & Associates study offers a good rule of thumb - banking customers and members are more likely to adopt additional products from an institution that has contacted them up to four times within the first two to three months of the relationship. 

Get Started

Just don't think about "share of wallet" as a throwaway buzzword you keep hearing at conferences and lunch meetings. Take it by the horns and drive it in your own customer or member base. When your presence is heavy in customers' literal - and figurative - wallets, they'll think of you every time they swipe.

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