How to Build Banking Relationships That Last

Remember the good old days, when there was just one bank in town, and it served all of your needs? Chances are that same bank was where your parents and grandparents banked, and you just made your deposits and withdrawals and went about your business.

Today’s banking landscape is far different from that of even just a decade or two past. For many financial institutions, the solution to dwindling customer satisfaction — and a shrinking customer base — is to build stronger relationships. It’s quite simple, really: When customers feel connected to your bank they are more likely to give you more of their business, and encourage others to do the same. Many banks have failed to build relationships with their customers because they haven’t differentiated themselves from every other bank. Customers expect to have standard services like checking and savings accounts, money market accounts, CDs, mortgages, and personal loans from any bank. Since federal regulations limit most of what banks can do in terms of those products, most customers see banks as interchangeable.

The key, then, is to offer services that customers might not expect from their bank, but that add value to their experience and help them feel more in control of their money.

Beyond the Checking Account: What Customers Want From Their Banks

The best add-on services are those that are mutually rewarding to both the customer and the bank. Ideally, they should make it easier for the customer to manage his or her money, while also building loyalty to the bank — and reducing costs or increasing revenue.

Believe it or not, there are services that fit the bill. Some of the best options include:

  • Credit Monitoring: Credit card fraud is increasing at a rapid rate, and in most cases, customers don’t even notice a problem until the damage is done. Offering credit monitoring to customers allows them to stay in control of their credit profile, while also preventing bank losses. Consider notification systems that alert the customer to unusual charges, as well as those that offer information about credit scores and items reported to the credit bureaus.
  • Identity Theft Protection: Identity theft affects nearly 10 million people every year, and costs billions of dollars. Help your customers keep their identities safe by offering identity theft protection services that will not only notify them of suspicious activity, but also provide assistance should their information fall into the wrong hands.
  • Financial Advice: Many customers already have financial advisors or accountants to help them manage their money, but there are still plenty of customers who don’t have any expert assistance — especially younger customers who are in the early stages of their financial journey. Offering free or low-cost consultation and planning services can help customers reach their financial goals, and show them exactly how you might help them do that.
  • Accounting Software: Part of managing money, both household and business, is keeping track of expenses and income. Offering proprietary accounting software that interfaces directly with bank accounts helps your customers stay on top of their finances, while also providing the bank with greater insights to provide more useful products — and spot red flags.
  • Educational Services: Providing free or low cost educational events, such as retirement planning, home buying, entrepreneurship, or college savings seminars not only helps your customers get on the right track to their goals, but also helps build your banking community. Customers like feeling like a part of something, and when you create an environment where they can share ideas and make connections, everyone benefits.

Banks that offer services that go beyond the standard accounts are more likely to attract loyal customers who stay loyal for many years. The key is to provide products that offer value, and encourage customers to view you as a partner in managing their money. Do so, and you’ll find that most of your customer sentiment is positive – and it will feel like the good old days of local banks again.


Written by Jack Dougal

Jack Dougal

Jack Dougal is's resident news reporter. He writes regular blogs covering the latest stories and key developments in the global financial services industry.

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