Study reveals opportunities in financial services industry

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Financial services institutions are doing a respectable job of winning the attitudinal loyalty of customers. However, they are not yet turning that loyalty into engaged customers who buy more products and refer others to the company.

This was a key finding from Minneapolis-based Carlson Marketing's Carlson Relationship Builder 2007 study on the current state of customer relationships within the financial services industry . In the most recent chapter of its ongoing research series, Carlson Marketing--used the expertise of the Peppers & Rogers Group, its strategic consulting division, and its partnership with San Francisco-based Zoomerang , an online survey firm-to put the financial services sector's consumer relationships to the test. Nearly 2,000 consumers took part in the study to provide a clear look at the state of customer relationships within the financial services industry.

In general, the study's findings indicate that even in the relationship-savvy financial services industry, there is a significant opportunity for banks and financial institutions to capture more value from existing relationships, Carlson said.

Other findings include:

● Courtesy is not obsolete. Sixteen percent say customer service staff courtesy is the most important factor when interacting with their primary financial services institution. In fact, 15 percent said that it is more important than the time it takes to be served.

● Recommendation of friends. Of all the business outcomes examined, those customers that the company has a stronger relationship with were most likely to recommend their primary financial services institution to family and friends.

● E-mail/Internet is preferred 39 percent versus 25 percent over face-to-face interactions when obtaining information and it was preferred 44 percent versus 31 percent when accessing customer services.

● Ethics matter to customers. Forty-three percent agree that a financial services institution having the same type of moral values as the customer plays a role in determining that customer's primary financial services institution.

According to results from the study, the strength of customers' relationships with their primary financial services institution vary widely. Institutions that are historically known for their customer focus (e.g., USAA, Vanguard) or for their customer intimacy (credit unions, local banks) scored well. Yet, even among these leaders, there's an opportunity for business to benefit through improvement.

Participants in this study answered numerous questions on a broad range of topics, including the usage of financial services products, their primary financial services institution and associated interactions, demographics and relationship strength as measured by the Carlson Marketing RSx relationship index.

This current study was conducted in partnership with San Francisco-based MarketTools Inc., a research firm, using its Zoomerang web-based data collection platform and their sample consumer panel that consists of more than 2.5 million opt-in participants in the United States. Data was gathered from Oct. 5 to Oct. 9, 2006.

In other news, Carlson Marketing also announced that Enpocket, a mobile marketing company has entered into a strategic partnership in which Boston-based Enpocket's technology and services will fuel new mobile components of Carlson Marketing's marketing services on a worldwide basis.

Under this partnership, Carlson Marketing will incorporate the Enpocket platform across its array of marketing services to offer fully integrated, end-to-end mobile solutions to Carlson's global client base in areas such as loyalty marketing, employee recognition and events.

Beyond the technology platform integration, the two companies will design a core messaging product, a proprietary benchmark and thought leadership around loyalty marketing via mobile devices. Additionally, Enpocket will design and deliver mobile products across Carlson Marketing's three global lines of business: Meetings and Events, Sales and Marketing Services and Carlson 1 to 1.

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