Temenos Talks logo

Incent Your Customers

By Blair Rugh 5 Oct 2016

I don't know what your cost of customer acquisition is, but it is probably pretty significant. One way to attract new customers and to get existing customers to open new products is to give them incentive to do so. I recently received an offer from the mega-bank that holds my credit card, they would give me $100 if I would open a deposit account with them with a certain balance. I didn't take the offer because I enjoy my relationship with my community bank, it still has free cookies in the lobby, but I was tempted.

American Express recently ran a promotion with about 540,000 of its prepaid debit card holders. It offered them a bonus of $10 if they would transfer a certain amount into a savings "wallet." Apparently, it had promoted the savings wallet previously without much success. With the bonus, they increased participation over 100 percent, with participation apparently continuing even after the promotion ended. Whether the promotion was profitable or not I don't know, but it does show that like politicians, customers follow the money.

It has been proven that it is profitable to incent your customers, either through higher interest rates on deposits, promoting debit card access to deposit accounts and usage, or encouraging direct deposit and to use the bill pay system. If you have not done any incentive programs recently, look at your debit card and bill pay penetration and see if now might not be the time.

One program I have always liked was for junior savers. Incent your customers who are parents and their children to open junior savings accounts. The kids get money for their birthdays and other holidays and probably have more than you think they do. I understand that the tooth fairy is much more generous than it was when I was a child. The junior savings account gives the parents an opportunity to teach their children to save, and it gives the children an incentive to do so. Also, most of those children will remain in your community when they become adults, and you will have the inside track on their banking relationship.

One caution, in all of your promotions and your advertising, make sure that what you say is accurate, ensure that you and your product will do what you say that you and it will do. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is on the hunt for financial institutions that do not live up to their advertising. A national pay day lender advertised that the use of its loan products would enhance a customer's credit rating and that customers who continued to use their products would receive preferred pricing. Turns out that the preferred pricing was not available in all of the states that the company operated in; although, it was advertised in all states and that the company did not report to a credit bureau. The CFPB fined the company $1.8 million and ordered a like amount in refunds to customers.

The Wells Fargo fall out may leave some leery to venture into any type of incentive program, but don't let the actions of wrong-doers shy you away from opportunity. There are plenty of customers out there - and probably more than a few Wells Fargo customers looking for a new bank or credit union.

Our experts are on hand to help you

Request a call

Call me back