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What Banks and Credit Unions Can Learn from Big Retail

Posted by Eric Sivertsen on Mar 6, 2017 8:06:21 AM


The banking world has traditionally operated its businesses under the umbrella of loyalty, reliability and consistency. But with more and more consumer demand for brands with authenticity, convenience and relatability, big-box retailers are developing the perfect formulas for keeping customers and members in the fold.

Banks and credit unions would benefit from following suit. Here are some retailer tactics worth stealing.

Be Timely

One of the skills big-box and online retailer giants have gotten down to an art is the idea of timeliness. Whether it's reminding you that you bought a new winter coat this time last year or shooting you an email about new interior paint colors after you recently signed up for a home improvement sweepstakes, retailers are very agile with swooping in at the best possible moment.

Try this: Banks and credit unions can develop their own versions of this concept. Track where your customers are at in their lifecycles by what they ask your tellers about or what pages of your site they visit. Consider appealing to assumed interests as well - a customer who financed a vehicle purchase the year prior might now be interested in a house (or refinancing an existing property) this year. Start that conversation.

Be Inclusive

One of the most appealing aspects of the nation's most popular major retailers is that there's something for everyone. Many appeal with low prices or clearance sales in order to reach every level of buyer. That feeling of inclusiveness resonates with the beneficiaries, as well as the customer base as a whole, which sees the effort your making to be an "everyperson" among the sea of options.

Try this: Though deep discounts will hardly benefit your bottom line as a bank or credit union, low entry points are important for your future business success. Often referred to as "convenience services," offering low barriers to entry for your lower-cost services is important for breeding goodwill among your future affluent customers and members. A Gen-Z lead may not be ready for a big loan commitment now, but a free debit card or budgeting app will make you memorable for when they're house shopping in a few more years.

Be Fun

Think of your favorite stores. They display a sense of pride in what they do. They have personality and impact in their physical presence and communications. And - dare I say it - they have a sense of humor. Brands that are relatable and enjoyable have the most loyal of customers. The same can go for financial institutions, particularly when the level of inherent skepticism or distrust of many banks and credit unions can run high.

Try this: They key to mastering the fun is to not be so afraid to be personable. Show off what makes your particular bank or credit union an enjoyable place to bank. Don't send bland, generic emails asking people to sign up for products and services. Send delightful, useful emails with genuine emotion, relatable and conversational language and the much-needed sense of humor consumers need in order to find you authentic. Start the conversation warmly so, when the sales pitch comes, it doesn't feel jarring.

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