Do We Really Know Our Customers?

by. Shazia Manus

Community financial institutions (FIs) know their customers arguably better than most of the large FIs with which they compete. This comes from a long-standing tradition of over-and-above service and the building of personal relationships whenever possible. However, as consumer sentiments/preferences evolve with changing time, and as customers spend far more hours driving by branches rather than visiting them, the relationship dynamics are changing.

What was once an intuitive understanding of the customer has most likely become a superficial knowledge based on historical or personal assumptions. To interact with today’s customer, more touch points and relevant, memorable experiences are needed. Yet in order to build out these touch points/experiences, FIs must first understand who they are targeting and the type of interaction these target customers value.

Why do businesses really need to know their customers? Because delivery of relevant products and services, based on known psychographic, ethnographic, behaviors and expectations, ultimately drives loyalty. Customers are loyal because the business communicates its value proposition through experiences, directly appealing to the customer. They sense the difference, and they appreciate a company or organization willing to invest the time into understanding what, when and how they want to interact.

There are many companies in a variety of industries using this strategy to win. They recognize that in today’s digital world, the threat of being viewed as a commodity is very real, and they are using intimate knowledge of the customer to differentiate themselves. In a new white paper, “Strategic Planning’s Big Questions,” I take a look at several of these companies, including FedEx, Dell and Louis Vuitton. If you get a second, take a read. It’s available for free download at

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