SYNERGISTICS Research Celebrates 35th Anniversary

SYNERGISTICS Research Celebrates 35th Anniversary

35th Tweet

SYNERGISTICS Research Corp., an industry leader in financial services marketing research, announces its 35th anniversary.  Founded April 1, 1981, by William O. Adcock and Anne M. Moore, the company is now jointly owned by William H. McCracken, CEO, and Genie M. Driskill, COO.  The current SYNERGISTICS team of professionals, including executives and support staff, have been with the company an average of 19 years and bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the company and its clients.  Our more than 100 clients include the 25 largest banks, other major banks and thrifts, card organizations, insurance companies, brokerage firms, mutual fund companies, retailers, and FinTech companies, as well as other organizations in the financial services industry.

SYNERGISTICS is the leading provider of syndicated consumer and small business marketing research intelligence for the financial services industry.  Our shared-cost or syndicated research represents a cost-effective and time-efficient way for clients to obtain current survey research data, interpretation, and strategic analysis.  SYNERGISTICS provides an integrated package of survey research and strategic analysis, combined with our extensive experience in the financial services area, to assist our clients with developing, designing, and marketing competitive and profitable financial products, services, and systems.  More than 500 financial services projects on both consumer and small business topics have been conducted over the last 35 years.  SYNERGISTICS conducts an average of 16 multi-sponsor studies annually on traditional and innovative topics in the areas of transaction accounts, credit, card products, payments, branches and other delivery channels, investments and insurance, as well as segmentation studies exploring the small business market, Hispanics, mass affluent consumers, and generational segments such as Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers.  SYNERGISTICS flagship project, The Home Equity Lending Monitor was launched in 2001 to track important issues in the continually changing home equity lending market and is unique in the industry.  At the request of clients, The Mortgage Market Monitor, a companion project, was launched in 2016.  Since its founding, SYNERGISTICS has gone on to conduct a number of studies in the Canadian market covering areas such as card products, channels, payments, and students and recent graduates.

Designed to provide actionable information and recommendations, each of our studies includes an executive summary, a concise summary of strategic insights, and an extensive analysis of the survey data.  SYNERGISTICS also invites clients to join a teleconference discussing findings and recommendations at the end of most projects.  Custom research services are also available to assist clients with customer satisfaction, brand and advertising awareness, product design, positioning strategies, identifying target markets, and optimizing delivery systems.


For information about SYNERGISTICS contact Genie M. Driskill, COO/SVP-Research, or William H. McCracken, CEO, SYNERGISTICS, 3091 Governors Lake Dr., Suite 520, Norcross, GA 30071. Tel: (800) 423-4229 or (404) 237-3373 ¨ Fax: (404) 237-6470 ¨ Email: ¨ Website:


Pricing and Product Design

Online and Mobile Access

Packages; Value-Added Services

Key Finding from the Report:

Results from SYNERGISTICS 2015 study, Checking Account Acquisition and Retention, found that most checking holders believe they have a free account with no monthly fees or service charges, no minimum balance requirements, and no transaction charges. A minority are aware their account has fees or service charges that can be waived by meeting certain requirements.  To what extent do consumers still perceive they have free checking?

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Highlights of the Study

This study evaluates the consumer checking account market exploring strategies for designing checking products.  It examines pricing, packaging, access methods, value-added features, and online services.


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

Key Dates

April 29, 2016 – Charter fee/Intro pricing ends.

April 29, 2016 – Final acceptance of comments on questionnaire.

July 2016 – Project Report available.

Strategic Questions

  • Do household checking accounts continue to fit the conventional image of being a stable financial relationship? What degree of volatility exists in terms of recent account opening or share shifting?  What are the factors or motivations influencing any market movement?  Is multiple checking account usage an issue in the marketplace?
  • Can providers strengthen the checking account relationship with various “value-added” services and benefits? Is there positive response to relationship reward programs?  How important are features such as free ATM access, overdraft protection, and debit card “on/off” capability?
  • To what extent has the checking account become an online or digital experience for certain customer segments? What is the behavior profile in terms of devices used and activities performed in the digital environment?  Does there continue to be growth in adoption of mobile RDC?  Is there potential for digital “no check” accounts?
  • Are there opportunities to improve customers’ satisfaction with the checking account relationship? How wide is satisfaction overall?  What specific features or aspects – such as customer service, pricing, or access channels – represent areas for possible improvement?
  • Should providers be concerned about converting the small segment of consumers who do not have checking accounts? What reasons or motivations drive this non-adoption?  Can this segment’s needs be met by alternative products?
  • What checking account pricing arrangements have been accepted by consumers? Is there still a wide perception of free checking in the market?  How receptive are consumers to alternative fees, minimum balances, or activity requirements for various checking features or benefits?
  • How should checking account design be tailored to specific customer segments?  Can checking account features, services, and benefits be “matched” to certain demographic, behavioral, or attitudinal traits?

Research Issues

  • Checking accounts are the heart of most financial relationships.  Today, depository institutions can offer an array of checking account products ranging from basic to more complex versions. Accounts can be designed and promoted for specific segments such as teens and students, while virtual checking accounts have been designed to appeal to millennials. Additionally, there are premium level checking accounts designed for high balance customers.  Mobile apps that link checking and savings accounts are also appearing. In addition, a variety of features can be provided including overdraft protection, account management tools, and rewards.
  • Checking account providers promote the convenience aspects of checking accounts and the ability to make deposits with a mobile device.  While the days of totally free checking may be behind us, many consumers have accounts that are fee-free but have balance and transaction activity requirements.  Free access to ATMs nationwide can be an extremely attractive checking account feature. Overdraft protection is an important aspect of checking accounts.
  • Providers now offer the ability to apply for checking accounts online, as well as features to encourage switching behavior.  While applying online is convenient, it also represents a missed opportunity for developing a face-to-face relationship.  For some consumers, traditional checking accounts may be a thing of the past.  As new types of accounts and features continue to appear, it is important for depository institutions to measure consumer behavior, attitudes, expectations, and needs. [F244]


Resolving merchant acceptance issues may be the key to mobile contactless payments taking off in a big way, according to a recent survey by SYNERGISTICS Research entitled, Revolution in Payment Choice at the Point of Sale.  Currently, actual usage of mobile contactless payments is reported by one in six Internet households.  To identify potential barriers to adoption of this new payment option, these users of mobile contactless payments were asked if they have had any of a number of experiences or problems when using this payment method at the point of sale.  Most widely indicated is simply finding there are a limited number of places where mobile contactless payments can be used.  This is followed by being uncertain whether mobile contactless payments are accepted at particular merchants or locations because of a lack of signage or other information.  Other experiences include mobile contactless payments not being accepted or not working at locations that are supposed to accept it, not being able to use the payment method desired, and errors in transactions – such as purchases being posted multiple times.  Overall, two-thirds of the users identified at least one of these problems.

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Genie M. Driskill, COO of SYNERGISTICS, stated, “The introduction of any new payment technology is prone to have a number of ‘bumps in the road’ as it is rolled out.  Mobile contactless payments is not an exception, and all players involved should be very focused on addressing customers’ issues.  A bad experience with a mobile phone provider, financial institution, or merchant when making a significant purchase may result in a damaged or even lost relationship.  The top issue — a lack of locations — is, of course, a function of a growing infrastructure that should be satisfactorily addressed over time.  Indeed, the more recent introduction of Samsung Pay has the potential to dramatically impact the current environment for mobile payments.  Chase Pay and Capital One Wallet are two other recent additions available to consumers.  However, it should be a cause of some concern – and attention – for providers that some users are experiencing problems with a lack of information or signage about merchant acceptance, as well as finding a lack of acceptance in supposedly valid locations.”

These are among the findings from SYNERGISTICS study, Revolution in Payment Choice at the Point of Sale, featuring online interviews with 1,000 consumers age 18 or older.  This study examines consumer payment behavior at the point of sale.  Current usage of various payment methods and consumer reaction to innovative payment options and technology are assessed.


Blending High-Touch with High-Tech

Branches, ATMs, Online, and Mobile

Account Management, Services, and Sales

Key Finding from the Report:

Results from SYNERGISTICS 2013 study, Optimizing Small Business Channels, found that branches, PC online banking, and ATMs were the top channels being used by small businesses. To what degree has this picture changed?  Has usage of mobile and tablet banking grown among small businesses?

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Highlights of the Study

This study examines small business usage of various channels including the branch, ATMs, online banking, and mobile banking.  In addition, the response of small businesses to various innovations such as tablet banking, self-service options at the branch, and remote deposit is evaluated.


National Internet Survey – 600 small business owners/executives – 150 in the following sales volume categories – $50K-$99.9K, $100K-$499.9K, $500K-$999.9K, and $1M-$5M.  Industry categories include manufacturing, wholesale, retail, and services.

Key Dates

March 25, 2016 – Charter fee/Intro pricing ends.

March 25, 2016 – Final acceptance of comments on questionnaire.

June 2016 – Project Report available.

Strategic Questions

  • What patterns or changes in channel behavior among small business customers must providers identify and respond to in order to meet the needs of this important customer segment? Has usage of various channels increased, decreased, or remained unchanged in the past year?  How important are channel issues in selecting a financial provider?
  • What should be the position of the branch in channel strategies to serve the small business market? How frequently do small business owners or employees visit branches and what types of branch staff do they contact?  Can certain types of functional or staff improvements better optimize branches to meet the needs of small businesses?
  • What role do ATMs have as a channel used by small businesses to conduct financial activities or access accounts and services? Can the position of ATMs be enhanced with more advanced functions or services?
  • Where should primary emphasis be placed for future online channel strategies and tactics? Can PC-based online financial activities be improved or enhanced to better serve the needs of small business customers? Is usage of mobile devices – including both mobile phones and tablets – impacting the online financial behavior of small business customers?
  • How are other technological developments impacting channel behavior among small businesses? Is remote deposit capture (RDC) gravitating toward a PC-based or mobile activity?  Are mobile card readers – for both mobile phones and tablets – gaining traction in the small business market?  What types of mobile apps will best serve the small business market?
  • What channels should be prioritized for conveying marketing information to small business customers and acquiring new accounts? Does this vary by the type of financial product?  Does social media have a role in this process?
  • Does the usage or preference for certain channels among small businesses lend themselves to segmentation and targeting strategies?  What types of identifiers or variables – such as annual sales volume, industry segment, or number of employees – are most useful for this purpose?

Research Issues

  • Small businesses now have a myriad of channels they can use for their financial activities – from the branch and ATMs to PC, mobile and tablet banking.  Long been known as heavy branch users, small businesses’ usage of online banking and bill payment has progressively grown over the years.  Now, PC and mobile service offerings have expanded in response to this increasing need. To what extent has their usage of online banking expanded beyond balance inquiries and simple transactions to encompass more sophisticated account management, customer service, and account opening?  Have mobile banking and tablet banking become more than emergency channels for small businesses on-the-go?
  • In an effort to blend the personal touch with the convenience of online channels, some providers have implemented small business networks via their websites or have a presence on social media sites.  To what extent do small businesses tap into these resources? Although online and mobile channels have grown in popularity in the small business market, the branch continues to be a pivotal element in the channel mix.  How has small businesses’ usage of the branch changed in response to their increased usage of online and mobile channels?  What activities remain “branch-locked” for small business customers?
  • Another important channel for small businesses is the ATM or financial kiosk.  How are these self-service options being used by small businesses?  With all of these alternatives available, how important is the human or personal element in the channel mix? Are specific channels seen as primary modes for account management, customer service or sales? Understanding the dynamics of these various channels in the small business space will be key in optimizing channel strategies. [F243]