When it comes to keeping customers, selling shouldn’t be your top priority — engagement should. This means committing to getting to know your new customers in meaningful, value-added ways. Doing so means you’ll minimize the chances of their defection and increase the likelihood of developing a lifelong relationship with these customers.

Gallup data show that fully engaged customers bring 37 percent more annual revenue to their primary bank than actively disengaged customers. When new customers become disengaged, they simply leave for a bank that does value their relationship.

How can you translate your objective of engagement (which then transitions into cross-sell opportunities) into realistic, achievable tactics? Here are five must-haves:

1. Communicate frequently.

A 2015 J.D. Power study shows that customer satisfaction actually increases as the number of communications from their bank increases. Research seems to indicate that customers actually welcome frequent communications from their banks, especially during the initial stages of the relationship.

2. Focusing on multi-channel marketing.

Many banks rely on email, text messages and social media to communicate with new customers because it’s a lower-cost alternative compared to other channels. However, research and experience show that electronic channels may not be the most effective way to develop a personalized customer relationship. You’ll stand out in the marketplace with printed communication pieces that devote space to educating your customers about the benefits of your bank.

3. Develop high-value touch points that encourage customer feedback.

Your initial communications should be high-quality, value-focused touch points that encourage customer feedback (two-way communication). They should be customer focused, not product focused. Every communication should include a clear-cut value proposition and highlights of the bank’s community involvement. It should also show that the products you’re promoting match the customer’s needs and the rates and fees on the accounts are easily understood.

4. Find out what customers need.

What’s the best way to find out what customers want? Ask them. Encourage new customers to share their needs with your bank — through surveys and simply by having your staff engage with them when they visit a branch. Then (and this is important), show them you’re listening. Follow up with a phone call or a written note to show that you appreciate their feedback and offer some solutions to what they say they need.

5. Require staff to follow through on touch points.

Any successful customer engagement program holds staff accountable for following through with new customer contact (sending welcome notes, making two week follow-up calls, etc.). To be sure your staff is doing what they’re supposed to do you need to be able to measure the results of the strategy. This may require your bank to adopt new technology to help automate the engagement process. If you automate the process, your staff will know when and how to contact the customer. Automating the process also helps measure the results of the strategy and identify areas that need improvement.


The above tactics have one important thing in common: They’ll help your bank develop a two-way dialogue with your customers. This kind of conversation is a crucial element in increasing the lifetime value of their customers — and will have an impact on those long-term objectives of lower attrition rates and improved cross-sell ratios for your bank.