Citibank’s Impressive Follow-up Sales Effort

Citi_free_ipodCitibank has woken my sick-in-bed wife the last two mornings, calling to remind me to submit my paperwork to fund the new checking account I established online two weeks ago.

She’s not so thrilled with the bank, but I’m impressed with its tenacity.

Here is the scorecard of bank followup efforts:

  • Email = 1 (about 2 weeks after application…almost missed it, thought it was a phish)
  • Mail = 1 (technically not a reminder, it was the sig card and new account kit)
  • Phone = 3 (first about 1 week after application, then number 2 and 3, about 2 weeks after application

It’s an impressive follow-up effort. I’ve applied for a number of accounts over the years and I can recall receiving only one telephone call, from Salem Five back in 1995, and that wasn’t even an application, just a sales lead. The last time I tried to start a checking account, with Washington Mutual, I never heard from them, not so much as a single email or letter thanking me for my application. As far as I know it’s still sitting in limbo on some backup tape.

Sorry for the delay Citibank, I really do want that iPod, so I will be sending my $2500 deposit ASAP.

Action Item
If a company with as much experience as Citibank has found it to be profitable to make follow-up phone calls on unfunded new accounts, you should consider doing it as well. However, you may have more luck than Citi does using email followups. Citibank’s brand in an email message is practically worthless these days after the pounding it’s received from phishers.


Improve Bank Website Usability with Popup Sales Assistance

National_interbank_popup_1 Even with popup blockers wreaking havoc with this marketing technique, it still makes sense to program a popup when users abandon an application or any other important sales page. It’s also possible to program a popup after the user lingers in one area for a certain amount of time.

The popup should ask if assistance is needed and provide at minimum a telephone number and email address. Here’s an example from National Interbank.


Instant Online Bank Account Opening – Banks Speed Process For Opening Online Accounts

The Wall Street Journal reports today in its Personal Finance section on the plans at Citibank, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Wachovia, and HSBC to offer instant online checking account signup later this year.

While it makes sense for these national powerhouses to enable instant account signup, smaller financial institutions needn’t feel they must follow suit.

Bank accounts, especially checking, aren’t impulse purchases like the consumer goods sold at other online retailers. Most bank customers won’t mind if their checking account is opened by the end of the week.

More important than instant signup are clear explanations of what happens next, email status reports as the process progresses, and clear privacy and security guarantees. A personal telephone call or email followup from a new account rep wouldn’t hurt either.