What Banks Can Learn from USAA’s Client Engagement Strategy

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August 5, 2013

There is often a lot to learn from the best. And when it comes to client engagement and client experience, USAA has consistently led the financial services industry. Forrester’s 2013 Customer Advocacy report ranked USAA as the top insurer, wealth management firm, and bank. USAA ranked above all other American institutions included in the survey in all three categories. In the wealth management and insurance categories competitors did not even come close to the rank that USAA received.

The report ranked firms based on a customer advocacy survey of more than 50,000 Americans. Customer advocacy is defined as the perception on the part of consumers that the firm does what’s best for its customers, not just the firm’s own bottom line.

USAA is also ranked in the first, third, and fifth spot for American net promoter score leaders by the net promoter community.

So how does USAA do so well? It’s simple: they put client needs ahead of profits, maintain a simple and consistent marketing message, and invest in client engagement technology.


Put customer needs ahead of profits

USAA commits to putting client needs before profits. They have an executive position specifically tasked with providing a truly great customer experience. USAA’s Executive Vice President, Member Experience has “the mandate and power to design, orchestrate, and improve customer experiences across the ever-more-complex range of customer interactions.” USAA has even found a way to provide a truly free checking account by finding a way to profitably reimburse up to $15 a month in ATM fees charged by other banks.


Engage clients and employees with a simple and consistent message

Simple slogans like “treat the customer the way you’d want to be treated” and “We do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do” keep employees focused on the customer’s best interest. USAA also markets a simple message. Take a quick browse of their website and you’ll see the marketing messages “let us serve you” and “industry leading service that puts our memberships’ needs first”. These simple messages help employees make customer-centric decisions and communicates the company’s values simply to customers.


Invest in client engagement technology

USAA was one of the first banks to allow their members to deposit checks via email. Members take a picture of the check and email it to USAA. Today this is common, but USAA has been offering the services for years. This is a perfect example of USAA putting their client’s needs before the bottom line. Despite there being some possible profit loss on USAA’s side, if the service was used fraudulently, the company knew the benefit the service provided to customers greatly outweighed any possible profit loss to the company. Now the rest of the industry is catching up. USAA was also the first to allow members to check deposit balances via text message.

An important aspect of USAA’s strategy is that they embrace technology “not because the company is obsessed with technology, but because it is obsessed with customers.” Instead of investing with whatever technology is currently in vogue, USA makes smart investments that solve customer problems or incorporate customer ideas and feedback.

USAA is a model customer-centric business. Their clients consistently rate them above their competitors because they truly put customers first. They do so in three simple ways: considering the client’s needs before the firm’s profits, maintaining a simple client-centric message, and making smart investments in client engagement technology.

If you would like to learn how you can build customer-centric business processes to improve customer engagement, download our free eBook: The Executive’s Guide To Customer Onboarding in a Digital Age.