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Banks struggle to communicate

By David McMillin · Bankrate.com
Friday, February 17, 2012
Posted: 11 am ET

We've heard plenty of complaints about the burdens banks are facing due to new financial regulation, but a new study shows that some financial institutions are creating their own cost hurdles with outdated communication methods.

A recent Varolli Corporation survey of more than 1,000 banking executives reveals a disconnect between how the banking industry reaches customers and how those customers actually prefer to communicate. Here are a few highlights from the report.

  • Fifty-four percent of respondents still use direct mail to reach customers despite evidence of incredibly low response rates (less than 2 percent).
  • Fifty-four percent of respondents do not know how many of their customer contact numbers are mobile phones.
  • Fifty-nine percent do not track customer preference data.

That last stat seems pretty important to me. The majority of respondents don't even bother to collect customer feedback on communication behavior. Rather than ask how account holders want to be contacted, most of these banking executives have simply been staying on their traditional courses. In an age when more companies are offering customization to fit individual needs and desires, the banking industry still employs a one-size-fits-all approach to communication.

When communication tools were limited to land lines and mailboxes, that may have been OK, but not today. With such a diverse range of ways to contact account holders and potential new customers, the banking industry can eliminate unnecessary steps on the road to reaching account holders.

Forget having call center reps chase down an account holder who wants to receive updates via direct messages on Twitter. Forget sending promotional postcards that only end up at the bottom of a wastebasket. Forget sending text updates to land lines that recipients will never see. This data set delivers some valuable insights into ways to decrease costs while increasing efficiency to enhance the overall experience.

What do you think? How would you prefer to communicate with your bank?

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