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Loyalty is an outdated concept

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.  


Comments: (2)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 01 February, 2013, 13:24Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Notwithstanding the lack of breadth in their product range, banks introduced loyalty programs for credit cards ages ago. If that doesn't prove their innovativeness, the dizzying array of structured products like CDO, CDO2, CDS, MBS and ARMS should. The only problem is, when banks get too innovative and fail - as so many innovations do - it's the common man who has to pick up the tab. When it comes to their money, people value trust and stability far more than innovation. In an industry that has >8K players just in the USA, no bank will be able to clean up - certainly not by following Apple's strategy, which seems to be sputtering for Apple itself of late.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 05 February, 2013, 13:08Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

You can't really blame banks for not producing 'innovative products and services'. They do so all the time, remember mortgage-backed securities, Apple reverse convertibles?

Maybe it's more about the way they do it ...

Martin Bailey

Martin Bailey

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This post is from a series of posts in the group:

Innovation in Financial Services

A discussion of trends in innovation management within financial institutions, and the key processes, technology and cultural shifts driving innovation.

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