Financial services beat leisure & fashion for loyalty
Consumers are generally eager to foster relationships with independent financial advisors and banks, according to latest research findings from integrated marketing specialist Ion Group, which suggests that investments in customer relationships in the sector are likely to pay off.
Senior marketing professionals from 1,000 UK companies were asked how much of a relationship they believe consumers want to have with companies across key industry sectors. The research found that consumers are most eager to engage with businesses that have an impact on their financial status, and who traditionally enjoy high customer inertia.
Best relationships The independent financial advisors (IFAs) and banks topped the relationship table, scoring 25% and 19% above average respectively. Next in line were businesses that inspire a degree of emotional attachment. Leisure venues and fashion retailers (both 12% above average) were pegged in third position, followed by mobile telecoms and car marques (8% and 2% above average). Interestingly, car dealerships lagged well behind the marques themselves, and 10% below average compared to 2% above average.
According to Ion Group's sales director, Mark Jones, "This research examines how consumers differ in their attitude to building relationships with companies within key industry sectors, so that businesses can formulate relationship development strategies accordingly."
Not taking advantage Respondents to the survey ranked IFAs as the business type with which consumers are most eager to engage - a fact which Jones believes strongly suggests that insurers, as well as mortgage finance providers, pensions companies and asset management companies are relinquishing too much control to the intermediary and not grasping the opportunity to develop fruitful relationships of their own.
According to Jones, the role of the broker is essentially that of an introducer, yet many underwriters incorrectly perceive this introductory role to be synonymous with marketing; marketing and relationship building requires ongoing dialogue and nurturing. The increasing trend in IFAs becoming fee-paid means that while the IFA will undoubtedly maintain customer communications, they do so for their own commercial interests, which is no guarantee of continued custom for any single insurer.
Worst relationships Finally, of least interest to consumers (in terms of relationship building) were the price-driven, commoditised industries of insurance, utility providers and fixed telecoms (12%, 15%, and 23% below average respectively).
Jones added: "In many industries, the available potential to develop customer relationships is by no means fully exploited if the business can find a means of presenting itself in a way which encourages dialogue and mutual interest. Indeed, the way a business engages with its customers can have a significant bearing on the way in which the customer views the business. Central, therefore, to successful relationship building must surely be an understanding of the inherent interest customers have in the company."