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How would you describe the relationship that you have with your bank? Have you built a strong relationship with your bank? Do you love your bank or don’t you? Or are you like many that I spoke to that seem to have a love-hate relationship with their bank? Loving a bank is different to different people. For many, it is not simply the look of the bank that makes them fall in love. It is not even about the products that the bank provides or the interest rates and fees that it charges. Loving our bank means feeling good about having made a good choice and choosing to stay on as a customer. It means having a strong sense of belonging and trusting the bank to do what is right. Customers who feel some love for their bank are likely to give reasons such as simplicity, convenience, accessibility, and responsiveness. What are the reasons that make you love your bank? What makes you not love your bank?

Relationships with banks are important. When the bank manager or staff know you in person, they are happy to see you and give you personalized service. This is, however, not the case for the majority of bank customers. Some banks barely know their customers; others only get to know their top or most troublesome customers. Besides the main bank account, every customer has an emotional bank account with their bank. As customers, we deposit into this account and withdraw from it at every interaction. The emotional bank account with our banks can be easily depleted even when our main bank account is fully loaded. When our emotional bank account is low, we feel unloved by our banks.

Recently, my bank made me prove it was me. I had to show them my signature several times only to realize they had a cropped signature in their system and my photo had gone missing. This was after more than 10 years of a love-hate relationship. In addition, I had to wait to be called on my mobile number while at the banking hall to prove it was me. This was even after showing the teller that I could access my account via the mobile app. It was such a painful experience. It made me long for an online-only bank that does not require me to go to a banking hall to sign documents. My emotional bank account was fully depleted after a two-hour ordeal.

When we don’t love our bank, we don’t simply switch to another bank. This is despite the fact that the switching costs are very low. I believe we are not assured that the new bank will be better than the other bank. As such, customers stay on despite not loving the bank. A colleague recently remarked that the only bank that was loved by its customers was Simple Bank later acquired by BBVA. In 2021, Simple Bank customers were sad that BBVA had to close the bank after acquisition by the PNC. The relationships we have with our banks make me wonder if we are supposed to love our banks. Maybe it is the banks that are supposed to love us as their customers and not the other way round. I challenge banks to spread some more tender loving care to their customers. Every bank has a golden opportunity to make their customers feel loved by depositing into their emotional bank account during every interaction. By loving their customers, banks can hold on to them for life!

Dr Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer. Connect via Twitter @KiruthuLucy

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