I was having lunch with a friend from Rotary a while back and he told me about an interesting encounter he’d had with a new bank that came to the area.
He said that this bank was new in town, but not new to banking – in fact, he’s had an account there for over forty years.
He contacted them after they had been open for a little while, primarily because they hadn’t contacted him. He found it a little odd that they hadn’t gotten in touch, especially given that he’d been a client since the 1960s. Like others, this bank has been bought and sold many times – but the original account is still there and he still gets statements in the mail here in the valley.
My friend tells me that he called the bank and mentioned that he has had an account at a Minneapolis branch of the same bank for over 40 years. He tells the person who answers that he expected a call or a card in the mail to advise him of the opening of the new bank, but received nothing, thus the call.
After fishing for the response he expected (ask him to visit the bank, ask for his name, etc) and getting nowhere, he gets this reply to one of this questions:
“Well, you should open an account here, bye”
He wasn’t asked about the account, much less how to reach him or if he wanted to transfer the account to the local branch. He wasn’t asked if he had specific questions.
They didn’t even bother to get his name.
I have his name, if anyone from the new bank is interested. I suggest a personal call and appointment to grow a relationship with him. Based on what he does for a living, it will be a profitable relationship if you don’t blow it.
So what should have happened?
This customer is a businessperson and has experience with mailing list, customer databases and the like. He knew that he should have been contacted. Why wouldn’t the bank run their database to find all the customers in this part of the state? It’s an ideal time to send them a series of mailings (a postcard, a card, a letter inviting him to a customer-only grand opening, etc) in order to get an existing customer onboard with your new staff, location, etc.
Why wouldn’t they invite the ones within an hour’s drive to come in to a special reception to introduce these customers to their personal banker? After all, they are used to dealing with the bank by phone and US mail from several states away.
Why wouldn’t they take the opportunity to make a personal appointment in order to open up a better relationship with an existing customer – in this case, a customer who despite being more than 1000 miles from their bank – still does business there after 40 years?
A friend of mine who used to run a bank here didn’t have an answer for me. I told him my story about never being contacted by my bank for over 5 years. I asked him why banks wouldn’t want to work harder to be better partners to business owners by actively working with them.
I suspect that the majority of business owners out there would respond positively to a note or a voice message like this: “Hey Joe, every 6 months or so we review the accounts of our best commercial clients just to make sure there isn’t some way we can help them with the financial aspects of their business – do you have 15 minutes to meet over coffee so we can chat about a few things? I’ll meet you at your place, or wherever you like and we can go over a few things that might help you. I’m not trying to sell you anything, we simply like to make sure our business clients are as strong as we can help them become.”
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