Reports on customer loyalty may differ on the exact number of people who are changing banks, but they all agree that customers are getting more promiscuous. The bad news is that I don't think we've seen anything yet. Mobile phone vendors eye how often customers
change their banks with envy.
The race to acquire new customers is on. In the UK, Maks and Spencers are offering a bounty of £100 in vouchers to new customers. First Direct bank offer £125 in cash with a further payment down the line. As any compensation and benefits person will tell
you, bonuses are a poor way of inspiring long term loyalty.
Where is the loyalty going to come from? Some banks such as Metro bank and First Direct try to differentiate on customer service which certainly helps. Other banks try to offer a basket of services for a monthly fee. Some even let you choose the services
you want in your basket. They can be good value if you like what you get. If someone offers you the same basket for less, you will probably switch.
How long before we see widespread loyalty cards from banks? There are challenges to making them work. People spend a lot of money in supermarkets and they tend to go there several times a month. They tend to have a huge range of choice and they buy many
items. There is a lot more scope for reward.
People just don't do that much with their bank. Once you've sold them a current account, a deposit account, a credit card, a loan, a mortgage, a pension and a bucket load of insurance, what else are you going to sell them? The average shopper probably buys
more items in their weekly shop than you've got product lines.
I think loyalty is going to come from somewhere much more elusive. Any of the banks would die for the kind of brand image that Apple enjoys on a good day. The first bank that can make themselves "cool" and start producing truly innovative products and services
over and over again is going to clean up.