4 Ways Financial Institutions are Building Stronger Relationships

by Sarah Morris

An engaged relationship is a loyal relationship. While that seems to be a simple concept, it can be challenging to perfect the art of customer or member engagement outside of the typical emphasis on products or services.

We’ve found that creating an ongoing dialogue is important in order to create loyal, profitable, engaged relationships that ultimately lead to higher retention. And the best way to accomplish this is by finding meaningful reasons to communicate.

Celebrating Birthdays

Part of any good engagement strategy is a focus on personalization. Consumers today crave personalization as it makes them feel unique, valued, and connected. One strategy to achieve this kind of personalization is remembering birthdays. Sending out a personalized birthday email or postcard to all of your customers or members is a highly recommended annual practice. It lets them know you’re thinking of them and that your relationship is a valued partnership.

With a marketing automation platform, setting up personalized automated birthday communications is simple and can take less than 20 minutes to do. Your personalized birthday communications should include a quick, friendly message thanking them for being a part of your financial institution family and doesn’t necessarily need to include an offer. Just communicating their value and your gratitude is sufficient for engagement.

If you’re wanting to include some kind of offer or promotion, here a few ideas to consider:

  • Coupon to a local restaurant - If you have local business customers or members, consider partnering with one as part of your birthday communications. Have them offer a coupon for a percent off or dollar amount off and in return, you will be promoting their business and driving business to them.

  • Kids birthdays - Sending personalized birthday postcards to kids' savings or checking account holders is a great way to engage with your youngest relationships. Kids love receiving mail and it can help them get excited about financial education. Consider including an offer like, “Happy birthday, Sam! Come by the branch and deposit $25 of your birthday money and we’ll deposit $5 more!” These types of communications can help create long-term customers or members with your young relationships as well as their parents or guardians.

  • Special promotions - Offer special rates on a CD promotion, closing costs discount on new home equity loan, or free appraisal on a home loan. This will show your relationships that you value their business by offering them something they can use in the future when exploring additional products at your financial institution.

  • Promote ancillary products - This could be a great way to subtly promote your online/mobile banking capabilities. Send an email to your relationships on their birthday, wishing them a happy birthday and reminding them how easy and instant depositing birthday checks is with your mobile app. Include a link to the app and keep the messaging general that speaks to the benefits of using the check deposit features of the mobile app. This way you can target relationships who have not yet downloaded the app as well as remind relationships who have of the benefits of using it.

Celebrating Anniversaries

Celebrating your relationships’ anniversary with your financial institution is another great excuse to communicate with and engage your customers or members. These can be executed much in the same way as birthday’s and can be done well by sending just a “Happy Anniversary” type of message or including some sort of special promotion.

If it doesn’t make sense to celebrate every anniversary each year with all of your relationships, here are a couple of things you can consider:

  • VIP Anniversaries - Send annual anniversary messages only to your *best* relationships. Those who are engaged across multiple products or with high balances.

  • Milestone Anniversaries - Consider celebrating only the milestone anniversaries, like one year, five years, 10 years, etc. If going this route, consider offering a more exclusive promotion or gift.

Personalized anniversary messages can be a great way to differentiate you from other financial institutions and build that next-level relationship with your customers or members, raising retention.

Holidays

Communicating with your customers and members on major holidays is a pretty common practice. But we’ve found that using other holidays as an excuse to engage your relationships can be useful for other things like driving branch traffic and driving conversions to products like your online or mobile banking apps, loan products, and general engagement.

  • Hours of Operation - If you’re closed for a particular holiday, it is recommended to send out an email campaign to your relationships stating your holiday hours in addition to posting them on social media and at your physical branch. It can be good for general relationship building. If you are open on a particular holiday, consider sending an email wishing your relationships a happy holiday and reminding them that you will be open to assist them in any way.

  • Product Promos - If you are wanting to promote some kind of product alongside your holiday messaging, we have seen success in promoting online/mobile banking with your holiday hour emails. Simply say, “We will be closed on [Date]. Don’t forget that while our branches will be closed, you can view your balances, transfer money, or use mobile deposit through our mobile app”.

  • Branch Traffic - Another idea is to use holidays as a way to drive branch traffic. For example, turn Valentine’s Day into a customer or member appreciation event and give a gift to anyone who comes into your branch on February 14th.

Special Events

Lastly, using other special events to engage your relationships should be a standard component of your customer or member engagement efforts. These events can be things happening in your specific branch, your local community, or another current event.

  • New Hires - Have you recently hired a new loan officer or another new member of the team? Consider holding a meet and greet and send an email to your existing relationships inviting them to come into your branch and meet the new loan officer. Consider offering refreshments or information materials on the loan products you offer and financial education around your loan products.

  • Back-to-School - Back-to-School events can be a great way to engage families of school-aged children. Send back-to-school savings tips out to relationships. Promote children savings and checking accounts during this time. Invite your family relationships to come into your branch during this event to receive a gift and interact with your staff.

  • Local Events - Is there a local event going on within your community? Consider coupling a promotion for a product, such as offering a CD rate special, to drive branch traffic and CDs that is tied to the event.

Engaging your relationships is important if you want to create long-time, loyal customers. For more ideas on improving customer or member engagement, email us at info@onovative.com.