There's gold in them thar hills," said the prospector in the Old West. Similar feelings hold true today in banks regarding investment products and customer potential.
Such promise of investment "riches" has led many banks to use customer names, transaction information, and other personal data as a basis for investment product promotion.
Since a bank uniquely has a relationship with a customer built on confidence and trust, it must think most carefully before marketing or cross-selling to its customers. Endangering the overall relationship for some initial investment revenue doesn't seem warranted.
As you evaluate new business methods and opportunities presented to you, you might want to consider the following series of questions. Then decide.
1. Would I want my own name revealed for such an offer? How would I feel about being contacted? Is it an invasion of privacy? Does it reveal too much knowledge about my relationship with the bank?
2. Does the potential offering advance the basic customer relationship? Will the customer feel better about the bank because of the offer and the contact or will he or she experience annoyance? Is the offer posed in beneficial terms?
3. What controls do we have over the new business marketer? Can we monitor the calls to ensure our customers are not abused? Can we contractually cancel the new business effort if customers call and express annoyance or displeasure?
4. Am I typically home between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m.? How many unsolicited calls do I receive? How much unsolicited mail? How many of these telephone calls and letters respect me as an individual and offer a message of value?
A great potential for abuse exists as you harness the power of customer records for new business efforts. In all businesses, an overly enthusiastic few will do anything for a sale. They don't care about your customer; they care only about their sale.
As technology, the information superhighway, and interactivity advance, we're going to have more opportunity to use customer data for marketing purposes. Banks must establish an ethical policy from the start and not get overly enticed by the promise of marketing riches.
Mr. Weisman is president of Weisman & Associates Inc., a New York direct-marketing consulting firm. The first part appeared Thursday.