Focusing on Service pays off

by Kevin Lynch 6. April 2010

The financial services industry has had a pretty rough couple of years, and 1st Mariner is no exception. Recognizing that we needed to get a better understanding of the relationship between us and our customers, we began phone surveys using the metric of the Net Promoter Score (NPS).  Developed by Fred Reichheld in 2003, NPS measures customer loyalty by asking one simple question, "How likely is it that you would recommend 1st Mariner Bank to a friend or colleague?". Using a scale of 0-10, it identifies your loyal customers (Promoters) and those who are less satisfied (Detractors). NPS is the percentage of Promoters minus the percentage of Detractors. The highest NPS score in the industry is 81% for USAA, the large credit union serving military personnel and their families. Most of the national banks are well below that, averaging in the 30% range. Our average score in 2009 was 66%, a very respectable score.

In October of 2009, we rolled out an internal training program focusing on the customer. Called "Providing Red Carpet Service the 1st Mariner Way", all customer facing personnel, including Tellers, Contact Center Representatives, and Branch Managers, attended. Beginning with mystery shops of a competitor and a retail store, employees were asked to focus on service from the customers perspective. The response was extremely positive from the attendees. The training has been reinforced with monthly Red Carpet Service awards to individuals and groups highlighting these service "stars". In addition, there are efforts to promote teller referrals and increase product knowledge across the branches. The next phase of the program will be rolling this out to internal support areas inside the bank.

Often it is hard to quantify the success or impact of training. With NPS, we have a tool that gets us real time feedback from our customers. Preliminary results are very encouraging, as scores for the first three months of 2010 have averaged 71%, a 7% increase over last year. As they say in academia, this is a statistically significant increase. Coincidence? I don't think so, but I'd love to hear what you think.

1st Mariner Branches & FourSquare

by Admin 6. April 2010

I've been busy with Social Media!  I've used Social Media sites for several years now to service our customers, add transparency, and reinforce our core values so, one would think that I've used all the sites and know all the tactics...  Not even close.  The landscape of the web and Social Media is constantly changing.  In my opinion, they aren't even separate anymore.  It's no longer Social Media, it's the Internet.  Due to the change I'm constantly testing out new and interesting tactics and sites.  Most recently, I've uploaded all of our branches to FourSquare.  Not sure what FourSquare is?  Check out the short video below.

So, what do I hope to accomplish with FourSquare and why is 1st Mariner Bank there?  Well, almost a million people are using FourSquare and that means it's important for the bank to have a presence.  Wherever the customers are, the bank should be.  Also, traffic to our branches has been declining over the past few years while the use of online banking and digital communication has been increasing.  I'd like to reward those who remain dedicated to their local branch.  In other words, that "Mayorship" to your local branch might be valuable in the next few months.

Next time your at a 1st Mariner Bank branch, grab your iPhone, Blackberry, Android or Palm and be sure to "check-in" on FourSquare and leave a comment/tip for others. Remember, that's what this is all about - sharing and engagement with 1st Mariner and others.

Action vs. Reaction

by Elizabeth Sherman 31. March 2010

I have been working in cash management for over 10 years. In that time various products move to the forefront of popularity. Commercial analysis accounts and overnight investments take the lead when rates are high. Online banking becomes more popular when software companies upgrade their operating systems and Remote Deposit Capture becomes the “must have” product during bad weather. (Yes – there was a silver lining to 80+ inches of snow!)

If you notice, these product sales are reactionary. Event A happens and triggers Event B. The same reactionary behavior occurs with Positive Pay. A company experiences fraud through a stolen or counterfeited check and suddenly Positive Pay becomes the product of the month.

Positive Pay was created to help prevent fraud on business checking accounts. As checks are issued, the payee name, check number, date and amount are entered in an online banking application. As those checks clear through the bank, they are matched up against the initial information entered by the customer. If there are any discrepancies between the actual check and the information entered, the check is considered as an “exception item” and the customer is notified through the online banking application. This notification allows the customer to decide whether to pay or return the potentially fraudulent item.

Over the last 3 years, with our current economic condition, I have seen an increase in episodes of fraud with my business clients as well as a spike in the implementation of Positive Pay. It is true this product requires the customer to actively manage the checks issued from and clearing their accounts, however, the benefits of Positive Pay far outweigh any perceived inconvenience.

Let’s make the implementation of Positive Pay an “action” rather than a “reaction”.

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