Banks failing to connect with customers via the branch

Banks failing to connect with customers via the branch

US banks are missing a significant opportunity to increase sales because of ineffective marketing at branches and call centres says Accenture

An Accenture-commissioned survey of 500 US consumers found that bank customers visit branches often, rate customer service highly and, contrary to conventional wisdom, would like their banks to inform them of additional services they may need.

Yet the survey findings reveal that bank tellers and call center representatives do not regularly suggest appropriate products and services. Nine in 10 consumers say tellers and telephone service representatives rarely, if ever, inform them of useful bank offerings.

John Durocher, a partner in Accenture's Banking practice, comments: "While they are doing a better job of targeting higher-income customers, banks are not converting those opportunities into sales as often as they should. For example, only 11% of respondents have three or more loan, insurance or brokerage products with their bank."

Overall, the survey confirmed the popularity of branches and general satisfaction with bank interactions. The vast majority (86%) of consumers say they visit their branches at least once a month; 42% visit at least once a week.

But banks appear to be missing an opportunity to cash in on this frequent contact: two-thirds (67%) of customers say they would welcome more information about additional services, while only six per cent feel that their bank tries "too hard" at sales.

Says Durocher: "Our research suggests that consumers do not feel besieged by marketing efforts by banks and in fact welcome information tailored to their needs. But the survey results support what we often see - that banks must also invest in employee training and technology that allows them to quickly and accurately identify customer needs."

While overall product referral rates are low, the survey findings show that banks are successfully targeting their more desirable customers. Roughly one-third (35%) of customers with incomes of at least $50,000 said their bank suggests other products at least occasionally, compared with only 18% of those making $20,000 or less.

However, those product suggestions often miss their target. For instance, only half (52%) of respondents say their bank branch does a good job of informing them of new services.

"It is simply not enough for banks to make customers feel at home at the branch, to identify better prospects and even to discuss new services," Durocher adds. "They've got to do a better job of anticipating and understanding a customer's needs based on the data and the customer's expressed desires."

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