Carlson Relationship Builder Study Reveals Untapped Opportunities in Financial Services

Minneapolis | April 02, 2007

Carlson Marketing today released the results of its Carlson Relationship Builder(SM) 2007 study on the current state of customer relationships within the financial services industry. In the most recent chapter of its ongoing research series, Carlson Marketing -- leveraging the expertise of Peppers & Rogers Group, its strategic consulting division, and its partnership with Zoomerang™, the pioneer in online surveys -- put the financial services sector's consumer relationships to the test.

Nearly 2,000 consumers took part in a comprehensive survey providing a clear look at the current state of customer relationships within the financial services industry.

The research report shows financial services institutions are doing a respectable job of winning the attitudinal loyalty of customers. However, they are not yet turning that attitudinal loyalty into engaged customers who buy more products and refer the company to others. This indicates that even in the relationship-savvy financial services industry, there is a significant opportunity for banks and financial institutions to capture more value from existing relationships.

A few "factoids" from the study include:

  • Courtesy is not obsolete. 16 percent say customer service staffcourtesy is the most important factor when interacting with theirprimary financial services institution -- more important, in fact, thaneven the time it takes to be served (15 percent)

  • Recommend to friends. Of all the business outcomes examined, changesin relationship strength had the greatest impact upon a respondent'swillingness to recommend their primary financial services institutionto family and friends: a 75 percent enhancement for those with high ascompared to low relationship strength

  • The electronic channel is actually liked better by many customers.Email/Internet is preferred over face-to-face interactions whenobtaining information (39 versus 25 percent) and when accessingcustomer services (44 versus 31 percent)

  • Ethics matter to customers. 43 percent agree that a financial servicesinstitution having the same type of moral values plays a role indetermining a customer's primary financial services institution

"Carlson Relationship Builder 2007 provides compelling evidence in the financial services industry that creating, maintaining and enhancing relationships is a sound strategy to get, keep and grow customers," said Luc Bondar, vice president of loyalty marketing, Carlson Marketing. "Building authentic relationships has been shown to dramatically influence the propensity of a customer to recommend a financial services institution to family and friends, to remain loyal, and to buy more products and services. This research clearly demonstrates the positive influence of a loyalty program and the enhancement arising from improvements in communication customization, relevance and frequency."

According to results from the Carlson Relationship Builder 2007 study, the strength of customers' relationships with their primary financial services institution varies widely. Institutions which are historically known for their customer focus (e.g., USAA, Vanguard) or for their customer intimacy (credit unions, local banks) score well. Yet, even among these leaders, there's an opportunity for business to benefit through improvement.

"For marketing professionals in financial services, building better relationships isn't just a nice precept -- it is a key principle to getting, keeping and growing their most scarce and valuable resource: namely, their customers," added Bondar.

Participants in this research study answered numerous questions on a broad range of topics, including the usage of financial services products, their primary financial services institution and associated interactions, demographics and -- of course -- relationship strength as measured by the Carlson Marketing RSx(SM) relationship index.

About Carlson Relationship Builder(SM)
Carlson Relationship Builder 2007 is the most recent continuation of a 10-year research series across numerous vertical industries and global regions, each of which explores the role of customer relationships in driving business results -- and, importantly, in understanding the antecedents that enhance those relationships.

This current study was conducted in partnership with MarketTools, a leading research organization, using their Zoomerang web-based data collection platform and their sample consumer panel that consists of over 2.5 million opt-in participants in the United States. Data was gathered from October 5-9, 2006.

At the core of the research approach resides a model of relationship strength developed by Carlson Marketing and founded on the seminal investigations of Dr. Robert Morgan at the University of Alabama. This model places customer relationships in a mediating role, residing between the marketing activities or antecedents that influence (positively or negatively) those relationships and the outcomes or consequents that occur as an end result of the changes in relationship strength.

Visit to download the research report.

Back to News Releases