Building the Relationship Bank

We are in earnings season again, and many banks are reporting flat or weak revenues. After a significant period of expansion ending in crisis, banks are finding current market conditions tough to say the least. Putting customers first is an obvious response, but how do we take businesses that are traditionally product centric and turn them into an enterprise primarily focused on building relationships with customers?

It's not as easy as it looks. Many customers find different parts of the same bank competing for their attention. One of the first questions customers often ask is does the bank as a whole know who I am?

A place to start is to have a dedicated focus for managing customer relationships at an enterprise level, supporting the more traditional activities of sales, marketing and customer service often embedded in individual lines of business.

Social media is a great tool in this process. Social networks provide important feedback loops that enable banks to follow their customers chatter about brand experiences. Airline companies like JetBlue have done this very effectively. Banks have been more cautious about social networking, but they could be missing a huge opportunity.

In addition, digital marketing supported by algorithms and predictive analytics can provide essential details about customer interests and life style preferences.

Based on the tweets and the conversations, customer relationship management can provide feedback to other parts of the bank. Based on the clicks and the cookies, digital marketing can be more laser-focused on areas of customer opportunity.

Integrating these feedback loops into a customer relationship management system (CRM) allows sales to be more effective and campaigns to be more targeted. As a result we end up with a more personalized approach to developing customer relationships.

Let's call it social CRM.

Ideally, to be really relationship focused, customer revenues must trump product revenues, and the reporting, reward and recognition systems must recognize customer profitability as the most important metric in the bank. Anything that competes with that is bound to confuse longer term goals, leaving customers wondering who really matters.

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