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Four Ways to Improve Your Business Banking Customer Program

Four Ways to Improve Your Business Banking Customer Program

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.

At Gallup, we spend a lot of time talking to Business Banking leaders. They often say they want to provide excellent service to retain their customers, but many of their existing Business Banking customer programs are falling short.

Here are four strategies to fix some of the most common mistakes we see in these customer programs:

1. Measure more than customer satisfaction. Many Business Banking customer programs measure customer satisfaction between the bank and the Relationship Manager or Business Banker who works on the account. This approach fails to capture the different customer behavior that arises when customers are not only rationally satisfied, but also emotionally attached to the bank. Emotionally attached customers may be satisfied with your bank and the products and services they receive, but they also feel elements of confidence, integrity, pride, and passion. Gallup measures these elements and classifies the most emotionally attached customers as "fully engaged" with their bank.

Gallup, as part of its U.S. Business Banking Study, recently polled more than 4,650 U.S. business banking customers and found that those who are fully engaged with their bank are at least twice as likely as those who are extremely satisfied -- but not emotionally engaged -- to open new accounts, discuss their financial needs, take out a new business loan or establish a new line of credit, and shift business to the bank.

2. Measure and implement your customer program holistically. In addition to measuring customer satisfaction with the bank overall, some banks have separate surveys to measure customer satisfaction with their Relationship Managers, products, and the credit process. However, measuring components of the client relationship separately encourages these groups to work independently to achieve high satisfaction scores, rather than to work collaboratively to increase the customer's engagement with the bank.

Gallup has found that customers who are extremely satisfied with these relationship components -- but are not fully engaged with their bank -- are much less likely than those who are fully engaged to discuss new products and services and give additional business to their bank.

Banks should measure satisfaction with products, policies, processes, corporate image, and relationship management within one comprehensive customer relationship survey that also measures customer engagement with the bank overall. This will allow banking leaders to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the different touch points in client relationships and identify ways for all of these touch points to work together.

3. Don't confuse your customer relationship survey with an account review. Account reviews and customer surveys are both extremely important for maintaining and growing customer relationships, but they do so in different ways. An account review should be a one-on-one, honest, all-encompassing conversation between the person managing the relationship and a client. Business Banking leaders should use the account review process to evaluate how Relationship Managers are doing and to analyze the strengths, opportunities, and issues within that particular relationship alone.

Your customer survey, however, should help you identify your strengths and opportunities across relationships. Business Banking leaders should use the customer survey to coach Relationship Managers on ways to better manage across accounts.

4. Leadership must be a strong agent for change. Collecting data means nothing if you don't act on it. Field pushback is almost inevitable, but strong managers will lead by example and hold their people accountable for creating the positive change that is needed. They will provide the coaching, training, compensation, systems, and support necessary to make sure the bank is in a position to fully engage its customers.

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