What Can Banks Learn from the Waffle Taco?

Taco Bell is testing a waffle taco, a product (I will not call it food) that gives me the creeps. While it might be your idea of a good breakfast, the thought of mystery sausage wrapped in a waffle from Taco Bell is just wrong.

Cleverly so.

This is a country that treats the annual return of the McRib like a celebration. College and high school kids will line up in droves for this. Based on the wild success of the Doritos Locos Taco, Taco Bell could have another hit on its hands.

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Banks Pay More Per Click

From Wordstream, a search marketing firm:

The most expensive niche groups paying for the most costly keywords are industries with very high lifetime customer value; the most costly AdWords keywords exist in industries where the customer pay-off is considerably high. Ultimately, the amount of money insurance companies get from an individual signing up for insurance with them makes high cost per click rates worth the investment, even at $54 a click.

Where Does Google Make Its Money? [ infographic ]

Big Banks Close in on Service

Happy BucketLast week JD Power released its 2013 U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study. I think one of the biggest takeaways – highlighted in the press release – is the fact that, while community banks still lead in satisfaction, big, TBTF banks are closing the gap. In the Midwest, Chase led the rankings.

Not surprisingly, mobile banking usage continues to climb, up 6 percentage points from 2012. While mobile banking may not be the choice of the majority of customers – JD Power found a usage rate of just 17 percent – mobile isn’t going away.

Community bankers often cite that the level of service they provide sets them apart. With big banks making gains in customer satisfaction, combined with a firm grasp on the technology that customers increasingly want, should community banks worry?

I’m thrilled to announce that the results of the 2013 Risk Practices Survey appear in the current issue of Bank Director, out now. You’ll also find Bank Director’s inaugural Growth Leaders Ranking.

For more information on Bank Director’s research, I encourage you to visit the research section at BankDirector.com.

Big or Small, Data is Key

BIG DATA. It’s a hot topic these days. Jim Marous has an excellent piece over at The Financial Brand on the topic, and however you define “Big Data”, Jim makes a great point:

…understanding the value of data being created today allows a bank to understand their businesses, customers, channels and the marketplace dynamics, including new sales and service opportunities.

My thoughts? It all boils down to knowing your customers (and prospects). What is important to them? What products and services are a good fit? Data that resides in silos doesn’t provide you with that big picture view you need – you need to know how your bank touches your customer base to know how to best serve them. Without the right information, you can’t make the right decisions.

I wish I could find the piece to cite, but the other day I read an anecdote about one of the ultimate missed opportunities in customer service. A man is at a very nice hotel for a three night stay. First night he requests a wake-up call for the next morning. Would you like a newspaper tomorrow? Coffee? Wall Street Journal, and tea please. Second night: Would you like a newspaper tomorrow? Coffee? Wall Street Journal, and tea please. Third night: Would you like a newspaper tomorrow? Coffee? Wall Street Journal, and tea please. The hotel offered all these great little perks, but in having to request it each time, the “specialness”, the knowledge of who that customer is, is lost.

Data – big, small, or in-between – can help your bank know your customer – and treat them like you know them too.

You’ll find another “Big Data” piece from Jeff Marsico here.

Buyers and sellers can’t agree on price in bank M&A. Results of the 2013 Bank Director/Crowe Horwath Bank M&A Survey.

Town & Country Bank of Springfield, IL has overhauled its image.

More Power to the Consumer

Do you know how your customer base wants to interact with your bank?

Yesterday I attended the Bankerstuff webinar, “Branch Transformation: Positioning Your Branch Network for the Future”. Chris Gill, Jim Flannery, and Jason Wolf of Diebold Branch Transformation Advisory Services presented some fascinating information on consumer trends.

Consumer interactions are changing. Teller transactions should decline, and ATM transactions should remain flat, by 2015. Growth will be found in online and mobile transactions, with mobile growing from 5 billion transactions in 2010 to roughly 18 billion by 2015. Additionally, consumer expectations are shifting as they interact with retailers in a variety of industries. What can you learn from retailers? How do your customers interact with you – and how do they want to interact with you?

Consumers have a lot of choice. Within the banking industry we tend to focus on the fact that the number of banks is declining, so there’s not a lot of thought put to the fact that consumers have literally thousands of banks to choose from – and that doesn’t even include the “non-bank” financial products on the market, like Bluebird. Diebold Branch Transformation Advisory Services found that 64% of consumers select a financial services provider based on the brand’s reputation. How are you strengthening your brand?

The branch isn’t dead.

  • 67% of consumers still prefer to go to the branch to make a deposit.
  • 53% prefer the branch for problem resolution.
  • 73% want to open an account, and 67% want to apply for a loan, in a branch.

The trend in the industry – the call for branch transformation – tends to focus on having a more specialized staff, with a shift in the branch from a transactional center to a service & sales hub. Banks may have to guide those consumers that still want to use the branch for transactional matters, like deposits, in order to create a more profitable branch system. Offering the right mix of branch, mobile, and online banking will help lead these consumers to choices that could be more convenient and better meet their needs – and help the branch become more streamlined and profitable.

Keep an eye on the young ‘uns. Gen Y’s and Millenials will hold the most spending power by 2017, and will conduct 40% of transactions. While only 33% of consumers consider mobile banking important when choosing a financial provide, 49% of Gen Y consumers, and 39% of Gen Z, do. But don’t discount the branch: 56% of Gen Z and 58% of Gen Y still consider the number and location of branches when choosing a bank. Where will these customers transact with you? Where will the relationship be? Are you offering the right mix of web, mobile, and branch?

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PwC Financial Services Managing Director, Nate Fisher, highlights how banks can align their pricing structure by using data from customer preferences.

Mike Branton of StrategyCorps shares how to put the retail back in retail checking.

Mobile Can’t Stand Alone

Earlier this month I interviewed the team at Reliant Bank, for an article that will post Monday on BankDirector.com. The piece is a look inside the late summer release of the community bank’s mobile app, but something I couldn’t include in the story was the other efforts the bank is making to achieve growth in a tough economy. Is a mobile app increasingly becoming a consumer expectation? You betcha. But a mobile app alone won’t generate growth. What else is your bank offering its customers?

Do your customers feel rewarded?

If community banking is largely about relationships, do your customers feel the love? Reliant Bank, a newer community bank in an affluent community, offers rewards checking – not exactly novel, but something that Brian Shaw, chief retail and deposit officer, says has resulted in significant growth of the bank’s client base. Customers earn interest for doing things like using their debit card ten times a month, using online bill pay for transactions, and using online banking. Pretty basic stuff that also encourages their customer base to do more online (which probably saves Reliant money too).

Reliant also waves ATM fees – an important thing for a community bank that can’t be on every corner.

Are you reaching out to current – and future – customers?

If you’ve visited this blog before, you know I’m a big fan of financial literacy. As part of their financial literacy program, Reliant offers a popular, high-interest child’s savings account. Reliant has been able to talk to kids in the schools, and the kids are rewarded for saving with $25 from the bank (or a giftcard). Kids are taught to save – and rewarded for it – with the help of Reliant Bank.

Reliant Bank is also active on Facebook, using the channel to notify customers of new programs (like mobile banking) and for community outreach. If you take a look at their page, most of their posts over the past week are about community events, like a bake sale, customer appreciation days, and seminars available to the public.

What does your bank offer that stands out?

Reliant Bank offers a Groupon-like ‘Raving Fan’ program, connecting Reliant’s business clients to retail customers.

The ‘Raving Fan’ program features local businesses, like area restaurants. Reliant’s retail clients appreciate the discounts to local businesses, while their business clients appreciate the free advertising and connection to consumers.

I love hearing stories of banks that are doing something different. Do you know of a retail bank doing something a little different? Maybe a unique branch concept, or a branding standout? Comment below, or email me at emccormick[at]bankdirector.com.

Update: The article “Reliant on Mobile”, detailing Reliant Bank’s summer release of their mobile app, is now available.

Bluebird of (Un)Happiness?

So, the big news last week: after years of attempts, Walmart finally got into the banking business.

For those of you catching up, big-box retailer Walmart has teamed with American Express to offer what essentially boils down to a really fancy prepaid debit card.

Daniel Eckert, VP of Financial Services for Walmart, states that customers are simply tired of fees, or at least the lack of transparency surrounding them, claiming that “Bluebird solves this problem and we believe it’s the best product on the market to help customers affordably manage their everyday finances.”

Are bankers concerned? They should be, since Walmart has a long track record of putting businesses out of business, and particularly if they want to reach that underbanked population that relies on products liked prepaid debit cards. And this isn’t your standard prepaid card, oh no. It’s gone mobile y’all.

So what does Bluebird offer that bankers can learn from?

Bluebird is easy for consumers to understand.
No minimum balance. No fees. No overdrafts – once you’ve spent what’s on the card, it’s gone. American Express plans to generate revenue from the card via processing fees.

Accessibility.
Customers can use the card wherever American Express is accepted, as well as at a network of 22,000 ATMs. It also includes a digital wallet with P2P payments via AMEX’s Serve platform. You can also use it for electronic bill payment.

Want to pass some money to the kids? Busy moms can control sub accounts for family members. Prepaid cards are growing in use among the young. Not only can parents use them to control a child’s spending, but the cards (particularly one that you can integrate with your phone, like Bluebird) appeal to tech-savvy youngsters.

Money can be added several ways. Aside from the expected direct deposit method, Bluebird’s mobile app offers RDC – or you can take cash to your local Walmart.

It’s more than just banking.
Everything that’s standard with an American Express card – fraud protection, roadside assistance, and more – is available with Bluebird.

Of course, Bluebird isn’t FDIC insured. But for the underbanked, that probably won’t matter.


Insights into the Prepaid Card Market from The Financial Brand.

Gauging consumer sentiment via social media – a chance for bank marketers to learn more about their customer.

Should the big banks be broken up?

Everyone else thinks housing is turning around – but not Citigroup.