Gone are the days when you could walk into any bank in the country and get down-home service straight out of a Frank Capra movie. Technology, mergers and the current financial crisis have all but put an end to that. But some recent mail campaigns from a few financial institutions show that demonstrating good old-fashioned customer service is key to getting and keeping customers in these still-troubled times.
At first glance, the tagline on the 4" x 9" outer from U.S. Bank seems pretty self-serving: "Our people make the difference." Seems like something out of the last decade, right? Not so fast — it continues below the address window, "Of course, by 'people' we mean customers like you" (see image in viewer at right).
The letter inside picks up on that theme: "Delivering great service and smart financial solutions is a commitment we have made to our customers," it starts. The home equity credit line that's offered here is sold as "Affordable. Convenient. Safe." Besides the low costs and response options, the bank touts its high ranking by a trade magazine as "one of the 5 safest banks in America" (Archive code #535-177315-1011).
In a promotion for its home equity line, Webster Bank (Archive code #535-173602-1011) knows that customers will comparison-shop: "You can get any bank to sell you a financial product." But in its eyes, it is a better choice because "we pride ourselves on recommending products that fit your needs." The customer shouldn't have to demand great service and products, but, rather, "Expect it." The mailing calls the offer one of its "better ways to help you grow your financial strength." To fulfill it, the prospect can either call a toll-free number, or bring the "Better way customer certificate," perfed at the bottom of the letter, to a nearby branch.
Wachovia sounds many of the same notes in a two-panel 5-3/4" x 9" self-mailer. The photo on the front shows a smiling mother and child reading a book with the caption, "You want a savings choice that lets you sleep at night." The message is continued inside, zeroing in on the security of the bank's CD: "your money is backed by a Wells Fargo Company with over 150 years of stregth and stability." (The term options and rates for the CD being sold are not to be found anywhere, however.)
Instead, next to checkmarks, the company lists what "you can expect" (that word again!). These aren't facts and numbers and small print but experience-centric benefits: "secure and worry-free savings," "guaranteed return," "Convenient bank locations" and "Outstanding customer service" (Archive code #536-177850-1011).
There will always be offers highlighting easy money, but for an industry that once enjoyed the strong confidence of the American public, a swing back towards nuts-and-bolts customer service is a good start to getting back that trust.