While it is apparent that Bank of America Corp. (NYSE:BAC) has made great strides toward reinventing itself since the financial crisis, it is still not clear whether or not its reputation has improved appreciably – though that hasn't stopped consumers from making B of A the reigning king of deposits among its peers.
What if Bank of America could take one simple step toward mending its broken relationship with its customers, increasing brand loyalty by more than 50%?
Two recent surveys from Accenture point the way: give consumers what they want. What do banking customers desire the most? A more personalized banking experience, whereby their bank advises them on everyday financial issues. For this, most consumers would be willing to pay an extra fee, as well.
The realm of the wealthy only?
Most big banks already provide these kinds of services for their wealthy clients, knowing that assisting with such issues and cross-selling products is an excellent way to expand profits and create happy customers. So far, though, this type of thinking has not bled into the retail side of banking.
But 74% of those polled by Accenture said that they would like their bank to help them with basic budgeting. Providing that type of service would not only create an opportunity for Bank of America to offer other, more advanced services, but it would create a true relationship between the customer and the bank, increasing brand loyalty.
In addition, over 25% of respondents said that they would be willing to pay for this type of service, and indicated strong interest in working one-on-one with bank advisors to get control over their finances. As the study points out, this could lead to all sorts of additional revenue, as customers find themselves with money to save – and invest.
An extra perk of this program is that it appeals not only to the 55-and-older crowd, but is especially attractive to customers younger than age 35 – the age group that most often expresses interest in banking with technology companies such as eBay's Paypal, or Google. Keeping those younger customers moored to Bank of America would be a coup that would maintain a continuous revenue stream for the bank into the future, in addition to giving its corporate reputation a huge boost.
Could this be something that Bank of America is already contemplating? The bank is obviously aware that the personal touch is just as important as keeping up with banking technology. Recently, the bank announced its new line of ATMs with Teller Assist, in which it seems to be trying to meld the two concepts.
But, I believe, the bank needs to go further than this. People still want to have face-to-face interactions with representatives of their banks, in which their own specific needs are discussed, and met. Is this in B of A's future? If so, Bank of America will be miles ahead of its peers – and well on the way to repairing its tarnished image.