Presentation of a distinctive and consistent message to its customers has long been the marketing focus of Wachovia Bank and Trust Company. For nearly 15 years, this firm has woven the concept of assigning a personal bank representative to each customer into all its communications, including print, radio and TV ads, plus direct mail.
An embryonic personal banking program at a Denver bank alerted Wachovia’s management to the potential of this kind of approach. The personal banker message has created a special niche for Wachovia. “We own this concept in North Carolina,” notes Robert Reagan, vice president of Financial Institutions, “and it gives people a distinct reason for doing business with us.”
The bank’s research in the late 1960s had confirmed the growth potential of retail banking but had also revealed that consumers saw little difference among banks, finding them all to be large and impersonal. Admittedly, continues Reagan, “It is often difficult to find your way through the many departments and services of a large financial institution.
You find yourself getting shoved from one person to another.” Wachovia wanted to give customers something unique, something that would give the company a clear position in the marketplace. Reagan explains the need for this clarification of image. “Consumers saw only a muddle of images; consequently, they split up their allegiances.”
The physical format for Wachovia’s personalized program has been set up as follows. Directly in front of you as you enter a Wachovia branch are the customer-service representatives. These people play two roles. They can readily attend to your routine banking needs such as changing the address on your bank record or selling you traveler’s checks. As well, they serve as receptionists for the personal bankers, setting up appointments and providing administrative support. If your business warrants a visit to your individual banker, you are escorted to his or her private office by a service rep and made to feel entirely at home.
Wachovia’s decision to pursue the personal banking course was quickly affirmed to be a correct one. By the end of 1973, one year after start up, 92% of the bank’s customers were familial with the program. Recent results confirm a plus 90% awareness level, with over 75% of Wachovia’s customers and nearly 60% of non-customers having a good understanding of the concept.
Further, nearly eight out of every ten customers interviewed in research focus groups are happy with their Wachovia relationship.