When small businesses switch providers it’s a double whammy, according to a recent survey by SYNERGISTICS Research entitled, Small Business Relationship and Retention Strategies.  Close to one-fifth of small business respondents in the survey say their company has switched providers in the past two years, which is a slight increase from one-tenth who reported this in a 2013 SYNERGISTICS survey.  The top reasons for switching include having had a bad or unsatisfactory experience with the institution and to receive better customer service.  In addition, most of those who switched say they also moved personal accounts and services when their company switched financial institutions.

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Genie M. Driskill, COO of SYNERGISTICS, stated, “Small businesses can be valuable customers for financial institutions – offering the double benefit of business and household relationships.  Provider switching activity among this segment has been fairly limited; however, trend data show that it has increased since 2013.  Additionally, when switching occurs, it can have a significant impact.  Most of those small businesses that switched providers also moved household accounts they had at the institution.  Among those who switched, their key reasons involved bad experiences with an institution and, perhaps related, a desire for better customer service.  It is imperative that providers focus on customer retention to guard their important small business relationships.”

These are among the findings from SYNERGISTICS study, Small Business Relationship and Retention Strategies, featuring online interviews with 600 owners and executives of small businesses with annual sales of $50K to $5M. Industry categories include manufacturing, wholesale, retail, and services.  This study examines the business and personal financial needs of small business owners.  It explores issues concerning cross-selling, relationship managers, provider competition, and relationship pricing and packages.


Integrating Traditional and Digital Channels

Account Management, Service, Sales

Branches, ATMs, Mobile and Online

Key Finding from the Report:

Results from SYNERGISTICS 2014 study, Maximizing Online and Mobile Banking, found that PC banking is being used by many consumers alongside traditional channels such as branches and ATMs.  Mobile and tablet banking continue to grow in popularity.

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Highlights of the Study

This new study evaluates consumer usage of various channels – from traditional branches and ATMs to online and mobile methods. It will assist providers in maximizing their omni-channel programs.


National Online Survey – 1,000 consumers age 18 or older.

Key Dates

February 26, 2016 – Charter fee/Intro pricing ends.

February 26, 2016 – Final acceptance of comments on questionnaire.

May 2016 – Project Report available.

Strategic Questions

  • What is the current channel usage profile of consumers for accessing their financial accounts and services for information and conducting transactions? Are there patterns of usage in terms of dominant versus secondary channels?  Does this vary by type of activity?
  • Are consumers satisfied with the channels available from their main provider for accessing their accounts and services? What problems or issues should be addressed that may be impacting customer satisfaction?
  • What is the evolving position of the branch in relation to other channel alternatives? Is it becoming complementary or supplementary?  In what situations may the branch still have a dominant role?
  • Are there strategies for reinvigorating the position of ATMs as a channel with innovations such as ATM receipts by email and mobile access? Is usage of the ATM the primary branch activity for some segments of consumers?
  • How do online banking activities – by PC, mobile phone, or tablet – impact and interrelate with other channels, particularly the branch? To what extent are mobile and tablet banking primary online channels for some customers?
  • How are various channels used for account acquisition? To what extent are consumers reactive or proactive in obtaining information? How does the preferred application method vary with type of product?  How do channel patterns vary in terms of customer service and problem resolution?
  • How do consumers’ channel usage patterns relate to other behavioral and demographic indicators that may be useful for segmentation and targeting?  Is the number or variety of access methods used reflective of financial complexity and attractiveness.

Research Issues

  • Today, consumers can interact with their financial services providers using a multitude of channels.  There are the traditional channels associated with financial activity including the branch, telephone, mail and ATMs.  Online PC methods are among the most popular ways for consumers to conduct financial activities. The mobile channel is growing in acceptance particularly among millennials. Social media, video and financial apps add new dimension to the expanding array of channels and services.
  • Consumers often use a mix of channels for simple transactions, customer service activities, and for shopping and obtaining financial products and services.  Consumers may read about a financial product online, text or email someone to find out about the product, and then purchase the product in person at the branch.
  • As a result, providers are faced with the challenge of developing integrated omni-channel strategies in order to meet the needs of today’s consumers who expect to perform financial activities when, where, and how it is most convenient for them.  Information content and the consumer’s experience need to be consistent across channels.  Channel usage may vary based on the type of financial product.  In order to develop a comprehensive omni-channel strategy, it is essential to examine consumer behavior, needs, and expectations. [F242]