As displayed in the chart below, a critical first step towards acquiring new customers and/or deepening product penetration is to improve brand awareness. In basic terms, a customer cannot open an account with a given bank if they don’t know the bank exists, or if the bank isn’t top-of-mind during the initial phases of the purchase funnel.
Data from the 2014 J.D. Power Retail Banking Satisfaction Study finds that this can be challenging for many institutions, particularly those characterized as Midsize Banks (those with $2 billion-$33 billion in deposits). For example, Bank L is a Midsize Bank headquartered in the Chicagoland area and has approximately 60 branches across three of Chicago’s primary counties (Cook, Lake and Will counties).
However, study data indicates that Bank L is currently struggling with brand awareness in its home market despite their strong network of branches within the Chicago area. Specifically, when shown a list of banks and asked to identify which they were aware of, only 31% of residents in the Chicago area selected Bank L.
In this case, improving brand awareness must be a key focus of any growth strategy for Bank L. Considerations should include, but not be limited to:
- Implementing a creative and effective overall marketing campaign: This can include marketing/advertising messaging delivered via multiple avenues (TV, radio, newspaper, direct mail). Additionally, secondary research finds that many banks are utilizing new and creative marketing ideas designed to not only improve awareness, but also help differentiate the brand from its peers. In many cases, these messages promote the idea of ‘community involvement’.
- Creating and maintaining a digital presence: When seeking to improve brand awareness, particularly amongst younger demographic segments, it is critical to maintain a digital presence to help attract potential customers. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter must be maintained and used to effectively promote the brand, the brand’s values and any pertinent promotions currently being offered. Additionally, banks must make effective use of their own website to effectively promote their values and promotional offerings.
- Measuring/tracking brand awareness and brand image metrics: Collecting and analyzing data can help institutions measure the effectiveness of campaigns designed to increase awareness. Additionally, measuring and tracking metrics related to brand image/perception (ie. ‘innovative vs. conventional’, ‘proactive vs. reactive’, etc.) can help direct the messaging content to deliver in marketing/advertising campaigns.
Findings from the 2014 J.D. Power U.S. Primary Mortgage Origination Study reinforce that shifting market conditions have led to new dynamics:
- Purchase has become the majority
- New Home Purchase: 57% in 2014 vs. 36% in 2013
- Refinance: 43% in 2014 vs. 64% in 2013
- The average age of respondents is younger in 2014 than in 2013
- The average age of respondents is 3 years younger in 2014 than in 2013 (45 vs. 48, respectively)
- The proportion of respondents age 35 or younger has risen sharply to 36% in 2014 from 25% in 2013
One theme that remains consistent, however, is the importance of transparent communication throughout the process. In turn, financial institutions that can maintain clear and consistent communication with their mortgage customers are more likely to ease the confusion and anxiety often associated with the origination process (particularly amongst younger or first-time purchasers).
First and foremost, it is critical to completely educate customers on ALL aspects of the process and product terms. As displayed in the chart below, successful communication regarding these topics can significantly improve customer satisfaction, yet the industry has considerable room for improvement. Currently, only 45% of customers feel that all aspects of the process and product terminology were ‘completely’ explained to them.
Additionally, it is critical for loan representatives to provide frequent status updates related to the approval and closing processes. Both of these best practices also carry a significant impact on customer satisfaction:
Although mortgage origination customers are increasingly looking to use multiple channels/methods at different phases of the origination process, it is critical for financial institutions to maintain a consistent focus on personal interactions with their customer base:
- Clear and accurate expectations must be set from the outset and reinforced throughout the process. A lack of transparency at any point in the process can create stress and concern that can harm the relationship.
- Face-to-face interactions are a key channel used by younger, first-time buyers to obtain information and learn about the process. Front-line associates must be prepared to act as an advisor and counselor.
- From limiting paperwork and preventing duplication of effort to providing proactive updates, minimizing customer effort is at the heart of a great experience.
Within the retail banking industry, account initiation is often viewed as a key ‘moment-of-truth’. In many cases, the opening of an account/product/service is the first interaction between customer and a bank. Other times, account initiation represents an opportunity for banks to engage tenured customers in a discussion about their evolving financial needs.
As part of the 2015 Retail Banking Satisfaction Study, J.D. Power measures customer satisfaction with the opening of banking accounts, products and services. Specifically with regards to accounts that were opened in a branch, study data finds that customers are most dissatisfied with the experience opening checking and HELOC products. Conversely, new account satisfaction is highest among customers opening personal loans and CD’s.
There are different variables driving the high and low satisfaction scores for these products. For example:
-HELOC dissatisfaction is driven by complexity of the process, as customers opening these products are significantly more likely to say the process was ‘more complicated than expected’.
-The level of engagement between bank and customer is lowest for customers opening a checking account, which often leads to lower levels of product awareness/understanding. In turn, the lack of awareness drives lower satisfaction scores.
-Opposite of the experience reported by customers opening a checking account, those opening a personal loan/line of credit indicate that the branch representative was very thorough in assessing needs and was more likely to provide useful information during the interaction.
Understanding which aspects of account initiation are most troublesome for their unique customer base can help a bank implement necessary changes. In some cases, focus should be placed on simplifying processes. Other times, providing additional training/education to staff can help them more accurately assess customer needs and provide additional value during the interaction.
In addition to identifying the overall weighted^ drivers of customer satisfaction within a given industry, the flexibility of the J.D. Power Index Model can also pinpoint differences based on consumer behaviors and demographics. For example, Rewards may be a vital part of the experience for one segment of credit card customers, while Card Terms may be more important to a different segment of customers.
With regards to the credit card experience, the drivers of customer satisfaction differ between new and tenured cardholders. Card Terms (e.g. fees, rates, credit limits) is a bigger driver of satisfaction amongst new cardholders (less than one year with issuer), while Billing/Payment and Interaction (e.g. website, call center representative) are bigger drivers of satisfaction amongst tenured cardholders (one year or more with issuer).
Analysis of data from the 2014 Credit Card Satisfaction Study also finds that most issuers struggle to maintain satisfaction with cardholders as the tenure of their relationship increases. As displayed in the chart below, a majority of issuers receive ‘above-average’ satisfaction amongst new primary cardholders (less than one year). However, only three issuers have above-average satisfaction amongst tenured cardholders (one year or more). This seems to indicate that the ‘shine’ of a new credit card wears off quickly, and it is important for issuers to focus efforts on maintaining satisfaction throughout the life of the relationship.
^For each industry measured, J.D. Power utilizes a multi-regression analysis to identify and prioritize the primary drivers of customer satisfaction.
With channel usage continuing to evolve within the retail banking and small business banking industries, it is important for banks to focus on delivering a consistent experience across all customer touch-points. Customers interacting with the bank via the website or call center should receive the same level of high-quality service they receive at a branch, and vice versa. However, analysis of data collected by J.D. Power finds plenty of room for financial institutions to further improve the consistency of cross-channel interaction.
One key example is with regards to Problem Resolution. As displayed in the chart below, small business banking customers report considerable differences in their experience depending on the channel used for resolving a problem. While Problem Resolution satisfaction is highest when interacting with branch personnel (tellers, business bankers and managers), there is a steep decline when dealing with call center and online representatives.
Data in the chart above is from the 2014 J.D. Power Small Business Banking Satisfaction Study, but it is important to note that similar discrepancies in cross-channel interaction are evident in all financial services studies conducted by J.D. Power (retail banking, mortgage and investment). And these discrepancies are not always related to Problem Resolution, as many other aspects of the banking experience are also prone to cross-channel inconsistency, such as:
-Clarity of account information
-Method of accessing secure website (PC vs. tablet. vs. Smartphone)
Data from three fielding waves of the 2014 J.D. Power Credit Card Satisfaction StudySM finds that the percentage of credit card customers ‘switching’ their primary card has increased significantly over the past year. More specifically, there is a significant increase in the percentage of customers opening a new credit card account (46% vs. 41% in 2013).
The increase is driven by ‘revolvers’ (customers that typically pay less than their total monthly balance), who cite ‘rewards’ and ‘lower interest rates’ as their primary reasons for switching.
With the competition for capturing ‘share-of-spend’ increasing, it is important for credit card issuers to improve the customer experience in an effort to improve loyalty. One key focus area is ‘rewards’, which have become a key driver of both acquisition and spending habits. In response, issuers must provide attractive offerings, market them effectively and ensure that their customers are aligned into the appropriate programs and card products. Additionally, the creation and marketing of successful rewards programs may also improve acquisition metrics by enticing competitor customers to switch their primary card.
The full 2014 J.D. Power Credit Card Satisfaction StudySM, including data from all four fielding waves, releases in August, 2014.
Data from J.D. Power’s 2013 Primary Mortgage Origination (PMO) Study identifies growing consumer demand for a more digital origination experience. Providing customers with an online option to submit supporting documents, verify receipt of their application, check status of their application and electronically sign documents can have a significant impact on satisfaction.
Quicken Loans, the top performer in the 2013 PMO study, has been among the quickest to provide a digital experience for their customers, which has helped drive their industry-best satisfaction score.
A decision to switch banks is often driven by a mix of frustration with the previous bank and attractive offerings from the new bank.
Attracting new business within the retail banking industry is unique. While there are several variables that can “pull” customers toward a new bank, data from our J.D. Power and Associates 2013 Retail Banking Satisfaction StudySM has found that customers generally will not switch banks unless they are also “pushed” away from their prior relationship.
While poor service and high fees are most likely to push customers away, branch convenience, promotions and recommendations help to attract customers to a new bank.
What are you doing to protect your current relationships?
The 2012 U.S. Bank Customer Switching and Acquisition Study is based on multiple evaluations from 5,062 customers who shopped for a new banking account or new primary financial institution during the past 12 months. Below are some highlights from the study, as well as links to how the industry experts are reacting to the results:
- Acquisition of new customers by smaller banks and credit unions has increased by 2.2 percentage points to an average of 10.3 percent in 2012 (from 8.1 percent in 2011).
- Among big banks, regional banks and midsize banks, switching rates average between 10.0 and 11.3 percent, while the defection rate for small banks and credit unions averages only 0.9 percent, a significant drop from 8.8 percent in 2011.
- 9.6 percent of customers in 2012 indicate they switched their primary banking institution during the past year to a new provider. This is up from 8.7 percent in 2011 and 7.7 percent in 2010.
- Fees are the main reason customers shop for a new primary bank. In particular, one-third of customers of big and large regional banks cite fees as the main shopping trigger.
- Regardless of bank size, more than one-half of all customers who said fees were the main reason to shop for another bank also indicated that their prior bank provided poor service.
- In capturing customers who are shopping for a new bank, several of the more successful banks achieve higher acquisition rates through the use of promotions and cash incentives.
- At one of the highest-performing big banks, 19 percent of customers indicate promotions were the reason they selected their new bank.
How are the industry experts reacting to the results of the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Bank Customer Switching and Acquisition Study?
Los Angeles Times
Credit Union Times
WONKBLOG by The Washington Post
The Financial Brand
Bank Marketing Strategy
For more information regarding the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Bank Customer Switching and Acquisition Study, please contact Holly Zagresky at Holly_Zagresky@jdpa.com
Next week, we’ll be releasing our 2012 Bank Customer Switching and Acquisition Study (SM). This study will explore the triggers that cause customers to shop for a new bank or a new account, their perceptions of bank brands, and how they make their purchase decision. The study will also include information on those who switched primary financial institutions in the past 12 months.
The customers of the top 25 financial institutions in the industry, as well as customers of small banks and credit unions are targeted in this study.
Focusing on the stages of the purchase process, the 2012 Bank Customer Switching and Acquisition Study will answer the following questions:
- The Shopping Process – Who is shopping? What prompts a customer to shop? What are they shopping for?
- Awareness – What drives greater awareness?
- Consideration – How are customers shopping? What impacts a financial institution’s consideration? Why are financial institutions avoided?
- Selection – What drives shoppers to select a financial institution?
- New Account Initiation and On-Boarding – What are the new account initiation best practices? What experience differences improve share of wallet?
To receive a copy of the press release when it’s available, or to learn about how J.D. Power and Associates can help you integrate the Voice of the Customer into your products and services.