Relationship Marketing – Small Business Outreach to Boost Customer Satisfaction

No one is too crazy about banks and bankers, especially right now.  They have been quite effectly tarred by the brush that writes about corporate greed on Wall Street. Whether or not it’s accurate or fair isn’t really something I’m qualified to write about.

However, I’m looking over a J.D. Power survey called the US Small Business Banking Satisfaction Study and I read that as much as small business hates bank fees, (something I AM qualified to write about) a good relationship with a businesses’ personal contact can overcome that problem.  The study mentioned that leveraging a good relationship with a banks account or relationship manager to improve scores in other areas ( like problem resolution, credit services or overall satisfaction) is one way to get and keep more satisfied small business customers.

The value of a good relationship manager is that they can answer questions and discuss less popular moves like fee increases ahead of time.  Some things still haven’t changed and people – even business people, value communication from a real person who knows and (they like to believe) cares about their business.

Given that smaller businesses would probably respond positively to the human touch, why don’t we seem to get the (marketing and sales) outreach calls from our banks?  (Not to be confused with head office initiated telemarketers who are armed on the call with the shopping list of what to sell you today.) It’s not that it  isn’t a competitive business – because it is and it’s not the the database information is unavailable – because it’s right there.

Banks can make good strides in helping their customers deal with the currently very difficult economic and business conditions by placing more importance on the value of a real relationship with a real relationship manager.  But they need to initiate the contact.

Consider how a telephone outreach at branch level on behalf of the person managing business relationships could yield a positive ROI in terms of the branches ability to improve the depth and quality of relationships with their business customers.

Because small businesses are just as time pressed as everyone else, chances are that bank branch will need to leave a message. It doesn’t need to be long or complex – in fact the simpler the message the better.  A simple message, while still creating the outreach, introduction and invitation to talk, will leave the door wide open for a fact-finding call to uncover areas of mutual opportunity.

“Hi, this is Joe Smith at ABC Bank. I’m sorry I missed you today but I’m hoping you can give me a quick call and we can spend a moment on the phone.  Many of the businesses I’ve been talking to lately are concerned about  ways to improve their cash flow and we might have some ideas that will help you improve here. too.  Please, give me a call at XX-XXX-XXXX and we can set up a few minutes to talk .  Thank you. “

It’s not a tactic that would only benefit small business relationships either. According to Greenwich Associates, in a study published in August 2011,  71% of medium businesses say their relationship manager is their single most important point of contact with their bank. And this tactic could have significant competitive impact.  According to Greenwich Associates consultant P. Garrison ” For banks, there is an opportunity to provide added value to customers at a time in which client trust and loyalty remains tenuous.”

For some of the smaller banks and credit unions, there seems to be a natural opportunity to capitalize on an outreach to business since the largest banks in the country have the worst customer satisfaction scores.  In a business universe where only 25-30% of the customers said they would NOT be willing to switch financial institutions within the next 12 months, it’s time for regional and community banks to get aggressive about using the phone for their sales and marketing programs and have their relationship managers start to consistently reach out to their business customer base.

Maybe one thing holding them back is that few financial institutions are familiar with using guided voicemail as a means to make that personal contact.

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