“Most businesses are structured around acquisition, not the customer experience or retention.”  -Audrey Cannata

Spending money is about more than just dollars and cents. It involves people’s biggest and most emotional life events, like getting married, having kids, starting a business, traveling, retiring, and so much more. 

Why do so many financial brands focus on the money and ignore the emotional side of banking? This question was inspired by Joey Coleman’s book, Never Lose a Customer Again: Turn Any Sale into Lifelong Loyalty in 100 Days.

The First 100 Days for a New Account Holder

Take a moment to think about the title of the book that inspired this topic, “Never Lose a Customer Again: Turn Any Sale into Lifelong Loyalty in 100 Days.” 

100 days.

During the early days of a brand relationship, a customer is experiencing a range of emotions. They probably came to your financial brand or fintech at a life stage when they needed help or wanted to make a transition in their lives. 

Maybe they chose you out of frustration with one of your competitors. Maybe they just took a chance because they liked the sound of your company’s name.

Since the relationship is new, the account holder probably isn’t 100% confident in their decision. They’re at constant risk of buyer’s remorse. Meanwhile, they’re stressed out and busy with a million other things in their lives.

Unfortunately, many financial brands “make the sale” by signing up new account holders, then tune out and turn away.

Customer Acquisition vs. Customer Retention

Most financial brands - and generally, most businesses - focus almost exclusively on customer acquisition. As long as they have a steady stream of new clients flowing into the pipeline, things seem fine.

 But there’s very little attention given to the customer experience.

Related Content: The WISE Approach to the Financial Customer Experience

In his book, Joey Coleman likens this to dating. Imagine meeting someone, liking their first impression, agreeing to go on a date with them, then showing up and discovering they’re all the sudden acting cold and indifferent. 

It’s a letdown.

Now you’re thinking, “Why did you work so hard to get me here? Why are you acting this way?” 

How Much is Your Financial Brand Losing in Lost Customers?

Losing customers is destructive to many aspects of your business, including your reputation, employee morale, productivity, and profitability. 

In banking, acquiring one new customer often costs around $300 to $500. For a commercial account, it could be much more - upwards of $15,000 by some estimates.

Are you wasting this investment by letting your customers down?

“Never Lose a Customer Again” shares some interesting research and statistics on this front: 

  • 32% of new account holders leave within the first year.
  • Of those, 50% leave within the first 100 days.
  • That means at minimum, you’re throwing away $300 per 100 days per new account lost.

Plus, more than 1,500 digital secret shopping studies by the Digital Growth Institute have shown that banking customers think it’s a hassle to open a new account. They hate doing it, but they still switch banks and open new accounts rather than sticking with an existing brand that are ignoring or irritating them.

We call this, “feelings, friction, and frustration.”

The customer is having negative feelings about the friction of the process, so their frustration pushes them to act - in this case, taking on the hassle of opening a new account somewhere else.

A few years ago, a Viacom study showed that for millennials,  they'd rather go to the dentist than dealing with a bank.

It’s a powerful statement about the failure of financial brands to make a positive impression on the marketplace. But it’s also an opportunity for your brand to shine, especially during the early onboarding process. 

Consider these results from a study of financial customers between the ages of 25 and 50 during a 60-day onboarding process:

  • Within 60 days, users received an average of 15 to 30 emails.
  • 80% of them didn’t feel that this was over-communication.

These are people who came of age in the technology era. They’re already prone to feelings of being overwhelmed with digital messages. Still, 8 in 10 of them thought it was fine to receive an email from their new bank every 2 to 4 days.

Optimize Your Onboarding Messages

The main reason fintechs are surpassing traditional banks is that they understand their audience. They’re excellent at seeing things from the customer’s point of view, caring about their opinions, and communicating, communicating, communicating.

There are 3 key questions that should be considered from the customer’s point of view:

  • Where do you want me to go next?
  • What do you want me to do when I get there?
  • How do you want me to feel along the way?

Every onboarding message should answer these questions and guide the customer along their voyage. In each message, politely tell your new customers where to go and what they can do, always keeping their feelings in mind.

The Customer Experience Includes Employees!

An important customer group often gets lost in the customer voyage: employees.

At many financial brands, employees are one of the largest customer groups, yet their experiences are mostly ignored. The overall human experience of your brand is only as good as your employee experience.

Notice how your employees are involved in almost all levels of the customer experience and remember that they’re likely customers themselves.

Reinvest In Experience Enhancements

There’s always a risk of falling into a rut when it comes to providing a positive customer experience. If your messaging is too repetitive, this signals to your customers that although you’re trying to connect with them, you’re doing it in a robotic and insincere way. 

Author Joey Coleman suggests reinvesting at least 5% of a project’s profit back into experience enhancements. Invest the money you’re making in the future of the customer relationship to ensure the positive cycle continues.

This isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme. Reinvesting in retention is a thoughtful, long-term approach that’s about playing the long game. 

It’s also an excellent way to differentiate your brand in a world that’s increasingly commoditized. It shows you’re committing to your customers and their needs. You’re not just part of the financial economy. You’re part of the experience economy.

Your Top Priority: Post-Sale Interaction

If there’s a single takeaway from this discussion of financial brand onboarding, here it is: Start post-sale interaction immediately. 

Connect with your customer right away. Send a simple follow-up email, then call and check in with them if needed. Don’t leave any room for uncertainty or confusion. 

Let them know what to expect and set the stage for a great relationship. This is the best way to forge a strong customer connection within the all-important first 100 days.