Market Research Options for Banks and Credit Unions

market research options banks credit unionsUsing market research at your bank or credit union can create several advantages. It provides you with facts and evidence-based insights which help guide your operational and marketing strategies. Market research leverages feedback from the most important segment of all, your customer or member. Plenty of market research options exist. The purpose of this blog post from Drive Research is to help walk you through to better understand some of the more common projects which banks and credit unions engage in on a regular basis.

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Online and Mobile Banking User Experience (UX) Research

With the shifts in banking from in-person and telephone experiences to digital and online touch points, your online banking services and mobile apps are essential pieces to your customer journey. UX research provides you actionable improvements to enhance your website and mobile app to ensure your customers can accomplish their mini day-to-day goals without being frustrated.

UX research is 2-pronged. The first piece is a UX evaluation or audit of your website which analyzes everything from design to flow to structure. The follow-up piece is traditional interviews with real customers as they browse your website and app. The research interviewer engages with the customer and asks specific questions digging into the reasons why actions takes place. For this phase, screen sharing technology is used. This UX research meshes perfectly with your Google Analytics data and has been shown to produce an ROI upwards of nearly 700% of the UX cost to your financial institution. Changes suggested from the UX are actionable and impactful immediately.

Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty Surveys

These types of surveys are the most basic forms of market research. They measure customer or member satisfaction (CSAT) and net promoter score (NPS.) They identify key drivers which impact loyalty to a financial institution. This survey also aims at measuring more specific metrics such as usage of channels, satisfaction with tellers, satisfaction with phone support, etc. Customer satisfaction surveys are longitudinal in they should be completed every 6 months, 12 months or 18 months. These continual benchmarks help your bank or credit union understand how the dial has moved over time and changes are made based on the results.

Branding Focus Groups

Focus groups are a form of qualitative research with the goal of exploring perceptions and mindsets. The structure of the groups can be designed to meet any demographic or segment of customer or non-customer. In branding focus groups the idea is to explore word associations of financial institutions including competitors, test marketing messages, and creative for advertising. These focus groups provide you with in-depth anecdotal feedback which is used to improve your marketing strategies to ensure every dollar you spending on advertising is driven by customer feedback.

Image and Awareness Surveys

Similar to brand equity focus groups, image and awareness (I&A) surveys aim to not only explore brands but also measure perceptions (positive, negative, neutral.) These are conducted through random samples to understand total awareness figures for your financial institution compared to your major competitors and what differentiates banks and credit unions from each other from the perceptions of the customer. It also provides you insight as to which advertising channels are most remembered as well as any messaging used in your advertising. Results can be broken down by age groups and geographies.

Mystery Shopping

Nothing provides better customer perspective than living and breathing real life experiences. Mystery shoppers are recruited and sent to a financial institution and asked to evaluate in-person trips to a branch where they engage with a teller. Another scenario might involve a mystery shopper calling the customer service number and inquiring about a specific service to evaluate how well the representative can answer questions. Scenarios can be customized to any of your objectives. Mystery shopping can be both qualitative (small number of scenarios to explore an issue) or quantitative (large number of scenarios to measure experiences.)

Closed Account Surveys

Often forgotten, closed account surveys can provide a bank or credit union with definitive drivers as to why customers leave. Is it a competitive offer? Is it your poor online banking options? Is your app frustrating your customers? Did they leave the area? Did they close the account to create a joint account with a spouse? Without reaching out and finding out why, you will be making assumptions. Understanding these reasons for churn can help your financial institution prevent it in the future.

Customer and Member Service Follow-up Surveys

Because in-person experiences at banks and credit unions are few and far between it actually increases the importance of every experience. When customers or members have a major issue with their account they need handled immediately, many do not want to wait for an email response. They immediately either visit the branch in-person or call by telephone. If they are happy with the outcome they become more loyal and if not, it creates a snowballing effect making the issue worse. Understanding the level of customer service your representatives provide is key. Sending out follow-up email surveys after a phone experience will help you measure all of this and flag negative cases for training opportunities.

New Account Surveys

Have new customers or members joining your financial institution? You want to make sure things get off on the right foot. New account surveys can be sent out regularly, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. These can be accomplished through mail, email, or a quick phone call.

Customer Experience (CX) and Member Experience (MX) Research

This is the Cadillac of all your market research options and the most expensive. A CX program aims to understand each and every priority touch point and measure it on a continual basis. It's a combination of a number of studies listed above to provide your bank and credit union with a complete picture of your customer or member journey.

A CX program is designed to create both short-term insights as well as long-term benefits. It creates a culture of customer-driven strategy driven by data. All areas of the CX program are structured with flagged cases and a standardized process for follow-up on experiences that fall below expectations. You work to create a series of metrics and KPIs which evaluate the holistic CX. This could include measurements like CSAT, NPS, customer effort score (CES), likelihood to switch, etc. We recommend starting small as you work your way into a larger CX program.

Drive Research is a market research company for banks and credit unions. Interested in learning more about or services or receiving a price quote or a proposal for one of the market research projects listed above? Contact us at or call us at 315-303-2040.

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