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Webster Bank Targets Dissatisfied Customers for Retention, Cross-Selling

How one institution is seeking out dissatisfied customers to serve their individual needs and improve their relationship with the bank.

As switching banks becomes easier for customers, holding on to customer relationships -- while also trying to enhance those relationships -- is becoming a bigger focus in the financial services industry. Banks have to take a more proactive approach in finding customers that are considering leaving for another institution, and respond quickly to meet their needs and convince them to stay. Webster Bank, a Connecticut-based institution with $22 billion in assets, has managed to find such dissatisfied customers and has turned eight out of ten customers that reported bad experiences with the bank into “highly satisfied customers.”

Webster executives realized three years ago that the organization needed to get more granular data on its customers’ experiences with the bank. At the time Webster was heavily dependent on customer satisfaction surveys that showed broader market trends across different parts of the organization. But that data failed to illuminate how customers felt about their relationship with the bank at an individual level.

“The surveys were fine for comparing one banking center or region to another, but it didn’t help us understand the drivers of customer satisfaction or make tactical improvements,” says Jennifer Salera Hoynes, Webster’s SVP and director of brand management.

Webster Bank’s leadership chose to adopt a new customer engagement platform from Allegiance, based on the recommendation of another bank, and implemented the solution in the summer of 2012.

Allegiance’s system automates the daily delivery of follow-up surveys for customers who have had interactions with the bank. Those customers each receive a short survey about the experience, and the system alerts the bank to any customers with negative responses. Managers are then notified to follow-up with those customers and help solve any issues for them.

“Now we can get granular data on customers that are having a bad experience. We didn’t have that kind of data before,” Hoynes tells us.

Those follow-up conversations with customers have helped boost Webster Bank’s cross-selling efforts as well, with one of ten follow-ups leading to the purchase of a new product or service. “When we talk to them, and ensure that they’re satisfied with their situation, a percentage of those conversations naturally lead to new cross-selling opportunities with the customer.”

Webster Bank has now consolidated all of its customer surveys on the Allegiance system and has implemented best-practices in its surveys such as shortening them and making them channel-specific, says Hoynes. The bank has separate surveys for its online, call center, and branch channels, and managers in those channels can now access the survey data in real-time through Allegiance’s portal to see up-to-the-minute customer feedback. Prior to implementing Allegiance’s platform, those same managers would have to put in a request for a customer feedback report and have to wait a couple weeks for a vendor to provide the requested data, according to Hoynes.

“All banks are focused on this issue [of customer retention] right now. If we have a satisfied customer, then we can gain more of their business by helping to meet their needs as their primary financial institution.”

Jonathan Camhi has been an associate editor with Bank Systems & Technology since 2012. He previously worked as a freelance journalist in New York City covering politics, health and immigration, and has a master's degree from the City University of New York's Graduate School ... View Full Bio

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