Customized bank cards: maintaining a personal touch in a digital world

Last updated: 02 September 2016

customized bank cards

When was the last time you set foot in a bank? If you’re like many tens of millions who have embraced online and mobile banking, you probably have to think quite hard to remember. However, you probably interact with your bank more than ever using these digital channels.

For most of us, and particularly those that have opened online only accounts, the bank card is the sole physical representation of the bank. As such, it becomes much more important than a piece of plastic you pay with.

Some banks have realized the potential the card has to build a deeper relationship with customers. By allowing customers to personalize the card with a photo of something they treasure—such as their child, partner, pet or family home—it gives them a chance to show a bit of their personality every time they use the card.

It may seem trivial, but it’s a small step a bank can take to show that it values its customers’ desire for ever more personalized services. The digital revolution, and wealth of data available, has led to customers increasingly expecting their bank to treat them as an individual, and not like everyone else.

It used to be that the local bank manager and their staff would be some of the most well-known people in a local community, able to help people with all of their financial needs. Local banks would have an intimate understanding of their customers, and likewise, people would have an affinity to their provider.

Now with online and mobile banking, most interactions take place with call centers, and branch visits have declined so rapidly that branches are often no longer economically viable. Société Générale has plans to close 400 branches in France by 2020, and three of the UK’s big four has similar plans to close 400 branches this year alone. Santander in Spain is also planning to close 450 branches.

So with less physical interaction possible, it seems imperative that banks find new ways to keep their customers engaged with their brand. It’s often said that acquiring a new customer is anywhere from four to ten times more expensive than retaining an existing customer. Couple this with Bain & Company’s assertion that increasing retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%, and you have a pretty compelling case for building a CRM strategy that focuses on customization.

Being able to differentiate yourself from the competition has always been critical in business. Banks can embrace all sorts of personalization techniques – you can see some of them here.

Printing a personal photo on a card is a light-touch technique, and banks can also consider interesting ways of packaging their card so when it’s delivered it’s received more as something special, rather than just attached in a letter.

These are simple, but effective ways to let the customer know they are valued, and have joined a bank that cares about the little things. When combined with an excellent digital and branch experience, banks will be able to set themselves apart.

These customized elements are also available online and via mobile, complementing the fact that there is a lack of traffic within the branch and customers are using these services from home and work.

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