Community Banks Community-Based
Despite the growth of megabanks, community banks still provide 60 percent of all loans made to small businesses. Your customers count on you to provide full services and keep costs low. You take pride in helping your community thrive, and your clients rest assured that the financial decision makers are locally vested individuals who appreciate what they’re trying to achieve. Within a national bank, a customer may go unnoticed in the $100-billion pool of assets, but at a community bank, every client counts. Corporate gift giving is a perfect way to show them they do.
A Forbes article for entrepreneurs stresses that businesses should never underestimate the value of client retention:
- A mere 5-percent increase in customer retention can expand a company’s profitability by at least 25 percent, often more.
- A full 80 percent of a company’s future revenue will come from just 20 percent of its existing customers.
The article highlighted that companies often find customer additions exciting but that “ignoring customer attrition could eventually spell their downfall.” High costs associated with customer acquisition mean that the early years of a business relationship are significantly less profitable than later ones, when established trust earns greater sales volumes. The optimal trick is to acquire new clients while keeping current clients happy.
Customer Satisfaction Versus Client Retention
Surprisingly, customer satisfaction does not automatically equal client retention, especially within business-to-business relationships:
- Repeated studies demonstrate that even though customer satisfaction percentages may rank in the 80s and even 90s, businesses retain less than half of those clients.
- The key determinant for customer retention was the customers’ position within their business hierarchy. When clients were decision makers, customer retention was much more likely.
Your bankers know those vital people making decisions. Your community bank has a much better chance than a megabank or many other giant businesses of earning customer loyalty and maintaining long-term relationships that will prove profitable for all parties for years – hopefully decades – to come.
Retaining Decision Makers
Earning loyalty and trust requires more than marketing formulas or loan terms. Profitability thrives on stable relationships with everyone, from your largest commercial customer to your smallest investor, your board members as well as your employees. Tools suggested by Marketing Wizdom to encourage satisfaction and retention include a little something for everyone:
- Welcome items.
- Loyalty programs.
- Special events.
- Personal touches.
- Premiums and gifts.
- Regular performance reviews.
- Social media/blogging
However, often it’s those personal touches and custom gifts that make the difference. Corporate gifting is a perfect, easy and cost-effective way to confirm to associates, clients and customers that not only do their roles in your business count but also they matter as people.
Commercial Loan Clients
Whether they are large-, mid- or small-sized business owners, your commercial customers are too important not to pamper. These are full-fledged decision makers determined to make their mark on the world. Someone struggling today may grow to be an influential community figure. Goodwill expressed toward your financial institution at Chamber of Commerce, Rotary club or guild association meetings is worth literal gold, and so are private referrals to your bankers.
In the business-to-business world, word of mouth often supersedes any other authority:
- Forbes lists it as the single-most valuable tool for marketing.
- According to Nielsen, “92 percent of consumers believe recommendations from people they know over all forms of advertising.”
Attempting to quantify word of mouth’s monetary worth, a University of Maryland team examined Internet social networking sites. One single word-of-mouth referral was worth $0.75. Banking stakes are much higher, however, and one happy commercial client may tell hundreds of people about your bank. Occasional client gifts to maintain goodwill is a low-cost-high-yield investment in future potential.
Private Banking Customers
If only you could reward all your responsible banking customers. You do, however, have priority customers with significant banking assets that you want to retain. Their individual retirement accounts, certificates of deposits, trusts and other financial investment funds allow you to continue making loans and doing business.
Your individual clients’ social circles and media accounts also carry influence. Even many elderly clients have discovered the benefits of electronic connectivity. Pew Research Center figures on “Older Adults and Technology” released in April of 2014 indicated:
- Ninety-two percent of all adults and 78 percent of all seniors have cell phones.
- Seventy-five percent of all adults and 62 percent of all seniors have either laptop or desktop computers.
In Nielsen’s marketing survey, 70 percent of consumers said they trusted online consumer opinions over other advertising strategies. Client gifts to remind prominent investors that you value them might be the deciding factor for continued investment in your bank’s vision.
Your bank relies on a fleet of real estate professionals, mortgage brokers, information technology and technical support specialists, appraisers, legal professionals, marketers and other assorted specialists. While megabanks have so many vendors – literally hundreds to thousands – that they hire vendors to manage their vendors, you most likely know each and every one of the business people who bring their talents and often clients to your negotiating tables.
When interest rates shift by the minute and commercial clients are working against tightening deadlines, experienced professionals who are familiar with your procedures and can provide consistent, quality work with solid turnaround times are priceless assets. You want them to answer your call and anticipate opportunities to make yet another profitable deal take wing. Holidays are a perfect time to show your appreciation for all the ways that they make your bank a success and make them feel a part of your team.
Conscientious board members committed to your bank’s long-term presence within the community deserve appreciation, too. These are the people who offer guiding hands and governing expertise to further your bank’s stability and longevity. They make up the trusted body that:
- Selects management to conduct day-to-day operations.
- Establishes long-term objectives and policies.
- Manages risk.
- Allocates resources.
- Protects stockholders.
- Ensures compliance with all statutes and laws.
- Oversees audits.
- Resolves conflicts of interest.
Your board members are dedicated to your bank yet receive little in way of compensation. Many members serve for decades. While holidays are perfect times to recognize their steadfast service, too, so are service milestones, such as 5 years, 10 years or – often – more. Those individuals also celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, marriages and births, and sometimes, it’s nice to be acknowledged just because.
Your chief executive, financial and operations officers live in the pressure cooker, performing the heavy lifting during your bank’s day-to-day operations. So often referred to as the top dogs, they’re your problem solvers, dealing with daily crises and your most influential customers and shareholders. Your executives have spent years in the financial trenches. They’ve honed their talents with expertise, and their networks allow your bank to become even more talent-rich as they recruit the best people they know.
Executive positions are requiring increasingly diverse skill sets, shifting from “inch wide and a mile deep” to “a mile wide and a mile deep.” Professional headhunters search for exceptional people, and because you are a smaller, community-based bank, your executives are multitalented in ways many individuals from compartmented megabanks are not. You want to keep your most trusted individuals, who understand your bank’s goals. Often, a little bit of appreciation can go a long way toward proving that your bank does not take its top people for granted.
Your Bank’s Employees
“Having an effective reward program in place can help solve many of your HR issues,” reads a subtitle for Entrepreneur’s article “The Best Ways To Reward Employees.” Most employers recognize that high employee satisfaction equates to efficiency and productivity. What many fail to realize are statistics the Center for American Progress culled from “the 11 most-relevant research papers on the costs of employee turnover.”
- Replacing a worker will cost an employer about a fifth – 20 percent – of that individual’s salary.
- For executives and other specialized professionals, costs can approach 30 percent.
Instead, Entrepreneur recommends maintaining an established strategic reward system that addresses four areas:
While most companies automatically address the first two, most also fail on the last two. According to Globoforce, a company specializing in employee retention and motivation, “80 percent of workers who have been appreciated are staying the course with their companies.” The key is cultivating relationships and an atmosphere that employees cannot fathom leaving.
Your Bank Recognizes That People Matter
Entrepreneur’s article stressed that corporate gift giving “showing appreciation . . . is best done through simple expressions and statements.” A sales incentive for a customer service representative, a perk for a loan officer, a thank you for a teller’s exceptional reported service – all motivate people to try a little harder, and one good turn often begets another. To discover a small, pleasant surprise waiting on a desk after a stressful negotiation can redeem a day. Delivery of a small, unexpected thank you proves that if a bank is committed to such a tiny detail, its business affairs are secure.
Your Bank and Cane River Pecan Company
Your bank serves an entire community, yet you can still offer customers and employees a personal touch. For your corporate gift giving program, consider offering food gifts that reflect your geographic region or even the personality of the recipient. Cane River Pecan Company specializes in a wide assortment of tasteful corporate gifts, from three kinds of freshly baked cookies – pecan chocolate chunk, coconut pecan and butter pecan – to the three truly Southern, traditional flavors of pecans – praline, roasted and chocolate-covered.
Cane River offers corporate gifting selections for every recipient and occasion. We can customize gifts with your bank’s logo, and many of our tins make wonderful commemorative keepsakes. You can choose from a myriad of small items or assemble a collection of hand-selected items guaranteed to impress. Are a few of your investors renowned chocoholics? Is that new board member a Southern Girl longing for home? Have your tellers ever had pralines? Cane River Pecan Company has the perfect thank yous and custom corporate gifts appropriate for your bank’s gifting needs. Tour our website, and let one of our gifting specialists help you design something really special to celebrate your bank and all the good people who make it a success.