Channeling the Customer
By Hallie Mummert
Personas and integrated marketing help Sovereign Bank deepen relationships.
Financial institutions, as a whole, often have been characterized as stodgy, pompous and, well, institutional in their marketing approaches.
These attributes no longer fit. Today, banks are catching up to their multichannel compatriots in other business sectors. In some instances, they are even leading the way.
For Sovereign Bank, a $59 billion financial services firm with headquarters in Reading, Pa., and more than 650 banking offices across the Northeastern United States, the overarching goal is to offer the services of a large financial corporation while providing the personal attention of a small, community bank. And the way the firm has chosen to achieve this goal is through customer-centric, multichannel marketing.
This approach does not pay lip service to the idea of customer relationship marketing. To recognize and anticipate its customers' individual financial needs and then deliver custom solutions, Sovereign Bank is investing heavily in an integrated communications process powered by in-depth insight on its customers.
In fact, you could say the firm is banking on this approach to give it the leverage it desires to outperform the 18 organizations that rank ahead of it in the financial sector.
It All Begins Online
In its quest to improve customer knowledge and enhance interactions, Sovereign Bank decided to focus its attention on its Web site first.
"We really believe online banking will increase customers' experience and relationship with the bank," says Marianne Doran-Collins, Sovereign Bank's senior vice president, director of online and affinity.
An independent study by comScore Networks, released in April, supports this theory. According to "Servicing the Online Financial Services Customer," a survey of more than 1,500 U.S. online consumers, online banking customers are likely to be more loyal and have a higher cross-sell rate than offline customers. In addition, comScore Networks reports that those customers using online services tend to be more satisfied with their bank, leading them to recommend the bank's Web site to a friend.