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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Banks, Listen Up: Most Customers Are Talking About You

By Beth Youra

This post is part of Gallup's ongoing series on the shifting landscape for financial institutions. It provides insights into channel optimization, emerging customer behaviors and preferences, product penetration and relationship growth, engaging the most critical affluent and business customers, and reshaping banks' overall value proposition.

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Oscar Wilde once said, “There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” Well, banks, according to Gallup’s latest Retail Banking survey, most of your customers are talking about you. In fact, 72% of respondents reported talking to others about their primary bank in the past three months. And despite the negative feelings American have toward banks in general, 67% of what customers are saying and writing about their primary bank is positive, while only 11% is negative.  

Although it may seem like people spend all their time texting, tweeting, pinning, and skyping, rather than actually talking to each other, it turns out that the “old fashioned” face-to-face conversation is still how most information about banks is shared. Less than one in 10 people are using blogs or social media to talk about their banks, and in-person conversation remains by far the most common form of communication.  


When customers feel positive about their bank, they can become powerful de facto marketing tools. And 71% of the time, customers who are talking or writing about their bank are not merely passing on information they heard elsewhere, but taking the time to add their own perspective or additional factual information.

It is interesting to note, however, that the customers who do use their bank’s social media channels are less likely to add anything to what they are reading. Half of the time these customers pass along information without additional commentary. But, as long as what they are sharing is positive, it should provide some benefit to your bank -- with minimum effort on your part. However, this behavior is likely not getting you maximum impact on your social media channels. If a customer simply restates, forwards, or retweets something, it’s never going to be as powerful as it would be if they actually added some perspective or personal value to that content.


The industry is again shifting its focus from free products and services back to fee-based products and services. During this transition, it will be important to keep the customer front and center. If customers are going to continue to talk to their friends and family about their banks, the most powerful thing banks can do is deliver service in a way that makes it easy for customers to advocate on their behalf. 

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