Why the big four banks win

A couple of weeks ago, wearing my magazine editor’s hat, I attended a meeting at which I was asked for some input into a project one of the big four banks will run in the second half of 2011.
Yep that’s right … at least eight months from now.

These guys are thinking long term about their customer acquisition and retention strategies.

I mention this because, in the last few weeks, we’ve been thinking of refinancing our mortgage.

As part of my research for a new financial institution, as one does these days, I hit Google and searched for “credit unions Sydney”. The results were poor. Most of the credit unions had confusing websites. Contact details were hard to find and call centres did not operate out of business hours. Email seemed not be a medium with which credit unions were familiar.

This all left me thinking that, for all their faults, the big four are at least pretty good at communicating with prospects and customers. Even if they screw us once we’ve signed up.

Two more things have since told me more about why we stick with the big four.

One was a full-page ad placed in the SMH by the Credit Unions, pointing out that they represent a financial services alternative. The ad had no call to action and no contact details, which is pathetic.

The second was ongoing analysis of the deals on offer across several financial institutions. Long story short, we’ve found that bundling products, going for credit cards with points schemes (and always paying on time) then using points for things like shopping vouchers saves quite a bit each year. A little more, in fact, than moving to another financial institution.

So the big four have the littl’uns outmuscled on marketing and products.

No wonder there’s no-one at Credit Union HQ sharp enough to notice the missing call to action.

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