Footprint Spread

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Keeping customers, even when they move out of town

By Chris Lorence

It happens every day—individuals and families all over America leave town. It may be just for a day, a week or a month, but sometimes it is permanently. The fact is they leave your community bank’s geographic footprint on a regular basis.

In today’s mobile technology, however, banking relationships can be amazingly portable. As a community bank, is it possible to maintain and even build a high-touch, profitable relationship when your best customers don’t live in your footprint anymore? Absolutely!

Let’s face it, as a customer, if you’ve ever had to undo a banking relationship, you understand the inconvenience, aggravation and utter determination it takes to disengage. There’s the bill payment that’s set up and working perfectly, as well as your direct deposits and other ACHs, some even forgotten because they may happen only once a year. From the community bank’s perspective, you’ve invested time and money providing financial services. You’ve also built a relationship learning more than your customer’s name; you’ve established a strong bond.

The reality is nobody wants to end a perfectly good relationship just because of a ZIP code change. Sixty-four percent of adults in America have a smartphone, according to a Pew Research Center survey in October 2014. Mobile devices, along with key product offerings, add an amazing amount of miles to “Main Street” by extending the community banking relationships you and your customers have worked so hard to establish.

  • Need to make a deposit? Remote deposit capture.
  • Need to get cash? Fee-free ATM network.
  • Need to borrow money for a new car, boat, house? Website-based application using a smartphone or computer.
  • Everyday spending? Bank-issued credit cards and debit cards.
  • Mobile payments like ApplePay and PayPal? Bank-issued credit cards and debit cards.

To be honest, marketing your community bank as a full-service provider is no longer enough; winning and retaining customers is now about making it known you can provide those services wherever and whenever customers may need them.

This means beefing up your in-branch signage and marketing to let customers know about the many access points they can use through mobile technology and the Web. This means paying closer attention to customers’ address changes and reaching out personally to those who no longer live nearby to tell them how to use your remote services to keep their relationships convenient. This means making sure all of your financial products and services are promoted and discussed when customers open an account. This means keeping your website up-to-date to include current promotions and rate details. And for that extra-special touch, put the local temperature and weather on your website to give those who aren’t there a little reminder of home.

You may be surprised to know that your best customers aren’t in any hurry to lose their relationship with you just because they now live in a different town or completely different state. They may actually dread undoing a relationship they love and starting all over somewhere else.

Sometimes they may just want to pick up the phone from wherever they are to hear your friendly voice say, “Hello, how can I help you?”


Chris Lorence (chris.lorence@icba.org) is ICBA’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer.

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