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How can banks ease anxiety?

By David McMillin · Bankrate.com
Saturday, December 31, 2011
Posted: 10 am ET

With the new year approaching, it looks like banks will need to take extra steps to calm customer fears.

In a new survey of bank marketers sponsored by True North Custom Media, 89 percent of respondents indicated that their customers have moderate, growing or high levels of anxiety about the state of their finances. The survey collected insights from 120 bank marketers on their customer communication strategies, and I found one of the results to be especially surprising:

Forty-nine percent of respondents either have no program to handle customer concerns or are scrambling to create one during times of financial uncertainty.

As mistrust continues to grow among account holders and the health of the banking industry is a hot topic on the news, shouldn't banks be ensuring that their account holders are comfortable and confident? The past few years have delivered plenty of blows to the banking industry, and many account holders have been on edge about how those blows will personally impact them. From new fees to bank failures to falling stock prices, customers have heard it all in 2011, and it's up to a bank's marketing department to reassure account holders and provide answers to pressing questions.

One other highlight from the survey indicates just how those account holders want to receive those answers: from a real person. Account managers, call centers and branch office visits ranked among the most common ways for account holders to request information. While banks continue to steer customers toward email and online chat centers for questions, it looks like customer adoption rates are slower than expected. Despite all the banking innovation we've seen throughout the past year, customer issues still require personal customer service.

What do you think? Are you anxiety-ridden about your finances? If so, how has your bank helped to alleviate your concerns?

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1 Comment
Cole
January 02, 2012 at 3:08 pm

From personal ecperience, no matter what someone working for a bank says or how they say it, many customers won't believe a word of it.

I worked for Wamu before and during the buy out by Chase. When customers were certain Wamu was going to fail they withdrew their funds at an alarming rate. No matter how much we told customers that their deposits were insured by FDIC they wouldn't believe it.