SunTrust puts the customer over product; Wells Fargo does the opposite; which is better for business?
A couple Thursdays ago I listened in on Celent’s Banking’s webinar, “The US Open: Account Opening Experiences at Top US Banks,” with content drawn from Celent’s report of the same name. In concept, the webinar was far from revolutionary; Celent senior VP Bart Narter did the leg work, literally, of visiting and applying for accounts at 12 large banks. Sometimes straightforward comparative research is the best thing a bank or credit union can do. (Although I hope Bart figured out how to apply without hurting his Qualifile score; I received my Simple invitation shortly after I did similar comparative research for online account opening, and my application was tragically denied.)
The banks were:
- Bank of America
- Fifth Third
- TD Bank
- US Bank
- Wells Fargo
I had a couple of high-level takeaways from the webinar. For Celent customers interested in the topic, I encourage you to watch the recorded webinar or download the report from Celent’s website; these points are only a small fraction of the webinar’s content, which was itself a fraction of the report’s content.
1) Customer over Product?
Customer: Bart’s favorite experience was at SunTrust, who started the process by emphasizing his needs, not their products, with a worksheet that guided product selection with the goals “Prepare for the Unexpected,” “Plan Your Future,” “Plan for Major Purchases,” and “Manage Daily Finances.” (Read more about it on theCelent report summary page.)
Product: In contrast, Wells Fargo’s aggressive sales culture and practice of bundling products left Bart with several accounts that “got set up magically,” and a bad taste. U.S. Bank and Chase too were guilty of pushing products a little too hard.
I found this dichotomy interesting because of an old Forbes article I stumbled across last week that cited Wells Fargo as the head and shoulders leader in cross-sell, with an average of 5.9 products per customer. Bart may have liked SunTrust better, but Wells Fargo seems to actually get better results. And, the fact is, an average customer applying at Wells Fargo doesn’t know that customer experience is better elsewhere, and even if they did, probably wouldn’t turn around and apply again at another institution. So my question is, while banking remains sticky is it worth it to sacrifice product pushing for customer experience?
2) Room for Improvement
Of course, as an Anderoid, my other biggest takeaway from Celent’s webinar is that account opening and loan origination in the branch is still a pretty archaic process. Celent reported that the average time to open an account was about 20 minutes, longer than that at Bank of America. I was actually surprised it was so fast; opening an account at TD a few months ago took me nearly 40 minutes. No branch used tablets, although one had recently put in a self-service teller. The process at most banks, particularly HSBC, was complicated, involving temporary pins, passwords, and debit cards and follow up phone calls that didn’t always happen. One bank’s branch manager actually physically took him outside to make his first deposit in the branch’s ATM and getting signed up for online banking was typically a very complicated process.
These processes don’t sound enjoyable for customers or staff, and definitely suggest that there is room for improvement. All in all, the webinar was a nice confirmation of the work we’re putting into our oFlows platform.