Managing customer relationships is important in any industry. Customer relationship management in banking, however, is especially critical. After all, customers trust banks with their money and with their financial stability. Effective relationship management in this sector depends on understanding the different needs of customers at different financial levels and growth stages, responding to those needs in ways that make the customer feel like a valuable individual rather than a number, and maintaining strict customer confidentiality.
All industries have customers with differing needs. This is especially true, however, of the banking and financial services industry where one customer's needs might involve several types of accounts, investment management and loans such as mortgages or auto loans, while another customer needs only a basic checking account. Customer needs can also grow over time and change as life circumstances change. Effective customer relationship management in banking requires a bank to be able to ask questions and uncover clients' needs, then provide appropriate solutions based on those needs.
Large banks, as with other companies with very large customer bases, must often balance the need for efficiency with a customer's desire for personal service. Finding ways to make customers feel appreciated as individuals can go a long way toward successful customer relationship management in banking. This might include allowing depositors to customize the way their electronic banking homepages appear, sending emails or letters about changes and enhancements to products the customer currently has, or rewarding customers for maintaining accounts in good standing over a period of time. It can also be as simple as training branch employees to be responsive to and interested in the customers who come into the bank.
Perhaps the most important aspect of customer relationship management in banking is maintaining security and privacy. Banks handle large amounts of confidential information, and customers want to know that this information is secure at all times. In this case, perception can be as important as reality. Not only must banks implement procedures to ensure that data is safeguarded, they must also send a clear message to customers that this is true.
Bank employees should always demonstrate respect for private customer information and should never discuss confidential data within earshot of another customer. Banks may be required by law to release privacy statements periodically, but they might also choose to augment this regulatory requirement with a friendlier, more approachable communication about data security. Branches, automated teller machines and other areas should always be — and appear to be — secure.