Last month, banks and their customers banded together to protest the proposal for financial institutions to report new account information to the Internal Revenue Service. Customers and bankers teamed up to send hundreds of thousands of letters to Capitol Hill, and to make thousands of congressional phone calls, according to the American Bankers Association. This strong partnership between banks and customers was striking because it is not a regular occurrence.
Of course, this is not the first time that customers have raised their voices and expressed their concerns about banking issues. Customers consistently and directly converse with their banks through a variety of channels – and banks consistently have the opportunity to listen. While banks currently make an effort to respond to customers’ immediate needs, they can also connect the voice-of-the-customer data to actions that make it possible for them to understand, predict, and prevent customers’ growing issues and risks – and improve products and practices. By doing so, banks and customers can see themselves as allies each day – and not just in this particular moment in time.
One way my team tracks customers’ growing issues at banks is based on their customer complaint data to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). For example, last year, the CFPB received almost 6,000 complaints about account closure. Customer narratives can shed light on the issues that customers are facing with involuntary account closures – and can guide banks toward balancing both bank and customer needs.
A growing trend about which banks will want to listen to their customers is Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL). Because this product is still in its early stages, banks now have the opportunity to proactively listen to customers’ challenges and use their customer narrative data to improve the product. Amid its popularity, complaints to financial institutions that offer BNPL are rising and focus on managing, opening, or closing an account; frauds or scams, unauthorized transactions; and other issues.
Banks and their customers can continue to be allies – and that begins with listening. Banks have the opportunity to approach their customer narratives and complaints as strategic intelligence, which showcase a portfolio of existing needs and predict future issues – and not just as individual issues to be resolved. Customer complaints can be parsed for their severity, making it possible for banks to prioritize their actions. Banks can alleviate customer frustrations, address root causes, forecast future needs, and create strategies to meet those needs.
Banks and customers have many shared interests. They want to have a positive relationship – and that leads to increased brand loyalty and customer retention. Allyship starts with customer listening, and that does not need to be a rare occurrence.