What does “Best Banking Experience” mean to you?

photostogo-292566I was reading the recent ABA Bank Marketing magazine and there was a section interviewing a marketing manager at a small community bank in Pennsylvania. One question asked was, “In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge marketers will face in the year ahead?” Her response, “Maintaining customer’s trust and belief that our bank will succeed and we will provide them with the best banking experience!”

As I read this statement it hit me that this simple statement holds a lot of weight. I started to think about my own banking experience. I’m of the Gen X group so I have a tendency to be an online banking advocate, which is helpful since my bank is based out of Texas and has zero branches or ATMs in the Boston, let alone the north Atlantic region. I can even cash my checks using the scanner here at work. I’m a frequent online billpayer as well. So you could say my banking experience is one of transactions.

But I have yet to buy my first home, get married, have kids or own a small business. So my needs don’t line up much further past the typical transaction based services provided by my bank.

But what about everyone else. What about those who are married, have kids and are homeowners. Do they also see their banking experience as transaction based? Since we grow up, like I, with an experience heavily weighed towards transactions, does this carry over into our more needs based years?

If the answer to this question is yes, then I would argue that the biggest challenge facing banks isn’t whether they’re providing customers with the best banking experience. It’s being able to determine what a true banking experience is in the eyes of their customers. If all customers see is a place to make deposits and loans, then chances of survival in a competitive marketplace is slim to none.

If there’s a necessary change in bank marketing that will lead banks away from this transaction mindset and more into a complete financial provider, it’s moving from a product based marketing approach to a customer education based marketing approach. The more often banks are in front of their customers to answer questions relevant to their life stages (married, kids, retirement, etc.), the more likely their customers will relate “banking experience” with “financial answers”.