By Joseph Salesky, CEO of CRMNEXT, Inc.

To put it mildly, 2016 was a rough year for the bank-customer relationship. The latest Gallup poll reported customer confidence in banks at 27 percent in June — and it’s undoubtedly lower in the wake of the Wells Fargo issues that followed in September. A discouraging 71 percent of millennials would rather “go to the dentist than listen to what banks are saying.” These are challenging times for many financial institutions as they strive to retain customers and grow their assets under management

Joseph Salesky
Joseph Salesky

These indicators show that there is a “trust gap” in the banking industry. Unlike the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008, this trust crisis doesn’t impact the value of consumer assets — yet large financial institutions are at risk as their customers consider voting with their feet by moving relationships, assets and debt.

It’s the first month of the new year, and an opportunity for a fresh start. Here are four steps banks can take in 2017 to reverse the burgeoning trust issues and regain customer confidence.

  1. Make it a priority to equip front line staff with customer-centric technology and training to ensure that account holders’ needs and best interests are catered to in every interaction.Shift the tone of conversations with customers from “how can I help you?” to “I can help you.”
  1. Be transparent and work collaboratively to meet customer needs. Empower customer service representatives to work side-by-side with customers assisted by automation to make interactions both frictionless and secure.
  1. Use insights to anticipate customer banking needs and ensure product fit —present customers with upsell and cross-sell options that make sense for their unique financial situation.
  1. Eliminate the artificial barriers between human and digital channels to provide customers with improved service across channels. Take out friction and make interactions efficient in branch, by phone or via web and mobile.

These four initiatives are key to repairing relationships with customers and preventing future issues. Wells Fargo’s recent announcement closing 400 branches by 2018 and the projected fallout estimated by the cg42 Wells Fargo Impact Study quantify the risk of the current environment.

 The great part about these actions is that, once implemented,their effects will be felt across the economy — most businesses will grow, and financial institutions will successfully trounce this trust crisis. In other words, everyone wins.

Joe’s Salesky Bio:

Joe Salesky serves as CEO of CRMNEXT, the largest global provider of CRM in financial services, where he is responsible for the company’s entry into the U.S. market. A seasoned expert in software and financial services, Joe has spent more than 25 years developing and delivering disruptive technology-enabled solutions. He holds 21 patents on technologies currently used by both consumers and large enterprises, including mobile banking and the original patent for web-conferencing.  A luminary in his space, Joe has deployed mission critical systems at more than half of the Fortune 500 companies and is a respected speaker at industry and media events. He has been quoted in leading national, international and industry publications and has led his companies to achieving numerous prestigious awards.