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How to Sway More Customers to Make You Their Primary Bank

Luke Tatge

Banks and credit unions love promotions—most campaigns are built around a certain percentage off or a few months free or other temporary benefits in that wheelhouse. But once you have a customer with a single product from your FI, how do you sway said customer into becoming a devotee?

Here are just a few basic ways to improve your intake of primary-banked.

Simplify the Process

All right, first things first—knock the obvious one out of the way first. Make your onboarding and transition process smoother, simpler and easier. (And don't be afraid to encourage or incentivize it.) First, ensure the required paperwork—digital or otherwise—is minimal, sensible and non-time-consuming. The last thing you need is to deter a potential customer from making you his or her primary bank by bogging the onboarding process down in hours of writing or typing. If you must include a mountain of paperwork and signings for compliance purposes, just make sure to break it out into manageable chunks so it takes on less of a burdensome perception.

Get to Know Your One-Product Wonders

Figure out who your aptest targets for transitioning product and services are—survey your existing one-product customers about their lifestyles, such as car or homeownership, their rosters of credit cards, family makeup, etc., and craft marketing messages that reflect that data—i.e., "Considering consolidating some credit card debt? Open a low-interest refi personal loan with Bank XYZ." The more you know about the customers with whom you have limited share of wallet, the more you can encourage a transition into primary bankhood.

Incentivize Deposits

The surest sign you've built a relationship as a primary bank for a given consumer is if they direct-deposit with your institution. And once you're a primary bank, you're likely to increase your product mix in the long run. As such, it's wise to invest in efforts to gain new direct deposits—and don't be afraid to incentivize it. Consider offering fee-free open-loop gift cards, a waived account fee or some form of repayment for a direct deposit signup—something small but meaningful that you can part with without negatively affecting your bottom line.

Get More Face Time

There's no easier sale than a face-to-face one. You've likely stacked your branch teams with the best and brightest customer reps and salespeople you can find, so the key is getting them face time with your target audience. Consider hosting an event whose invite list is geared directly to customers who only have one product from your institution. No strings attached—just get them into a branch. If your event is impactful, entertaining, enjoyable or informative enough, a return visit is all the more likely. Just don't come on too strong on the first date—warm them up so that they'll be open to a gentle sales pitch on visit two.


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