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Customer retention in banking: A proactive guide

Kate Randazzo
March 14, 2024
Read Time: 0 min

Strengthening customer relationships with tangible value and personal touch

Customer retention in banking can be challenging for community financial institutions. Follow this guide for strategies to stay competitive.

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In the competitive world of banking, attracting new customers is just one piece of the puzzle. Retaining existing customers is equally—if not more—important. As a banker once put it, "Our bank has got a front door and a back door, and both of them are wide open." This metaphor underscores the challenge many banks face: while they excel at bringing customers in, they struggle to keep them.

Most bankers are adept at reactive servicing—when a customer calls with a request, they're quick to respond, especially if they've eliminated manual processes with small business loan origination software. However, proactive maintenance of the customer base is often neglected. To keep the right customers, you need a retention plan. This plan should include strategies for different types of customers. For customers who have one piece of business and may not be paying a lot, you may not go out of your way to retain them. However, for valuable customers, you should have specific strategies in place.

Reframing the annual review

The power of benchmarking in customer retention

Annual reviews are a crucial aspect of financial services, providing insights into a company's financial health and performance. However, many customers may not fully understand or appreciate the depth of analysis these reviews offer. As financial partners, your bank or credit union can collect and present data in a way that resonates with your clients and adds tangible value to their businesses.

One effective strategy is to introduce benchmarking reports alongside annual reviews. These reports compare a company's financial metrics against industry peers, providing a clear picture of where they stand and highlighting areas for improvement. Most clients are unaware of how their financials compare to competitors beyond top-line revenue, making benchmarking a powerful tool for strategic planning.

For example—perhaps you have a manufacturing customer with a 90-day inventory turnover, while the industry average is 60 days. This excess inventory could be costing them significant amounts of money. Perhaps they might aim to reduce inventory to 80 days by the end of the first quarter of 2024. By introducing the concept of benchmarking, you can engage the client in setting realistic goals for improvement and add tremendous value to your relationship.

This approach not only helps clients understand their financials better but also empowers them to make informed decisions to improve their business performance. By setting quarterly benchmarks and tracking progress, clients can see the impact of their efforts and make adjustments as needed.

Incorporating benchmarking reports into your financial services not only provides them with valuable insights into their financial health but also strengthens your relationship by demonstrating your commitment to their success.

Strengthening banking relationships

Personal touches for improved customer retention

The right products, speedy service, and being useful to the business as an industry guide can go a long way toward improving customer retention in banking. But aside from those valuable services, building personal relationships with your customers can help as well. Consider these three tips for maintaining relationships with customers:

  1. Give individual attention: Consider ways to stand out from more impersonal competition by demonstrating that you care about your customers. Instead of just sending a card, take your business clients out to lunch for their birthdays. Make it clear that the lunch is a gesture of appreciation, not a business meeting. When done sincerely, adding a personal touch can deepen the relationship and create loyalty. As you get to know your customers as individuals, you will get to know more about their business goals and how your financial institution can help.
  1. Celebrate milestones: Show appreciation for your customers by celebrating the anniversary of their relationship with your bank. This could be as simple as a phone call or more festive (bringing pizza to their business or organizing an ice cream truck visit). Acknowledging loyalty can go a long way in customer retention. No financial institution is perfect, and errors are inevitable, but when customers believe you have their back and value their patronage, you may keep their business despite setbacks. 
  1. Engage with their team: Beyond just meeting with your account-holding customers, engage with the people who work with them. If feasible, have members of your team visit their location or vice versa. Talk about what's going on at the business and strengthen the relationship at all levels of your organization. When asked their opinion on a change, the staff members who do the financial work at a business are the ones who will tell their boss they aren't interested in switching banks if they have a good relationship with your team. 

SMB benefits

The benefits of proactive customer retention

By implementing proactive customer retention strategies, you not only demonstrate your commitment to your customers' success but also create a strong foundation for long-term relationships. These strategies can help you retain your current customers and pave the way for sustainable growth in your business.

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About the Author

Kate Randazzo

Content Marketing Manager
Kate Randazzo is a Content Marketing Manager at Abrigo, where she works with industry thought leaders to create digital content that helps financial institutions better serve their customers. Before joining Abrigo, Kate managed social media and produced articles for Campbell University’s quarterly magazine and other university content initiatives. She earned

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About Abrigo

Abrigo enables U.S. financial institutions to support their communities through technology that fights financial crime, grows loans and deposits, and optimizes risk. Abrigo's platform centralizes the institution's data, creates a digital user experience, ensures compliance, and delivers efficiency for scale and profitable growth.

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