Small business optimism edged up in July by 0.4 points to 89.9. Yet this is the sixth consecutive month below an average of 98 for the past almost five decades. With many small and medium-sized business (SMB) owners struggling with inflation, higher interest rates, and chronic supply chain issues, it is critical for financial institutions (FIs) to connect and retain these customers. But, that is easier said than done.
In Forrester’s July report for Relay Network, 66% of surveyed financial institutions said gaining and nurturing customer trust was challenging them these days. Unsurprisingly, a survey of businesses by Coalition Greenwich in May found that half of the respondents stated that “advisory services from their banks lacked ‘proactive outreach’ and had ‘limited understanding of the business’.” So, how can FIs successfully face this challenge and increase customer retention?
1. Connect for an updated business review
Since many companies feel that their FIs don’t understand their business, now is a good time to schedule an update to understand their current status, future plans, and how their FI can help. Reviewing the business’ cash flow with forecasted growth and capital requirements will help FIs understand the immediate and longer-term financial needs of their customers so they can provide their customers/members with relevant offerings. It is especially important since 33% of small business owners struggle or fail due to a lack of capital. Reaching out proactively will show that you are interested in their business and willing to guide them through economic challenges.
2. Check customer data
Not all business customers are at the same point in their business cycle. Treating all organizations similarly will likely not hit the mark. Review and analyze your customer data to find out where commonalities may lie with different groups and then create offerings based on those needs. Of course, FIs will want to think long term too, so use the data through your strategic lens to plan for valuable and differentiating solutions in the future. Knowing that their FI will address their needs not just today, but also tomorrow will keep your customers/members loyal.
3. Listen closely
Both the easiest and most difficult thing to do in retaining business customers is to listen very carefully. While many FIs have outstanding relationships with their SMB customers, it can be tough to really listen to their needs and wants, especially when the small businesses may not know all of these themselves. Having technology that allows you to capture multiple interactions, not just through one channel, will ensure that you have a complete picture of their needs. This is on the minds of many FIs these days—61% of banks state that “improving customer experience/service delivery” is one of their top technology investment priorities. Investing in scalable CRM and Digital Customer Service gives your frontline staff the tools to effectively remove obstacles for SMB customers/members and provide value by offering solutions that matter.
To learn more on how to retain customers through one seamless engagement, watch our video on ChannelLess™ customer service.