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Employee Engagement and Customer Loyalty “Joined at the Hip” at PeoplesBank

For Sheila King Goodwin, senior vice president, retail banking at PeoplesBank, employee engagement and customer loyalty are forever connected.

Based in Holyoke, Mass, and established in 1885, PeoplesBank has seen quite the evolution in customer loyalty and customer behaviors during the past 132 years.

“Employee engagement and customer loyalty are joined at the hip!” King Goodwin told Loyalty360. “If you do not have employees that are onboard, your customers will see the seams splitting in your experience and loyalty initiatives. You can’t buy your way to loyal customers with pens, plants, and rewards. It’s personal and that aspect of the relationship has to be a connection made by your employees.”  

Customer behaviors are changing all the time, King Goodwin said.

“Regarding life stages, we know that, depending on where a customer is along their own journey, will determine to some extent what their needs and behaviors are,” she said. “To some extent, the measure of life tends to be age, but that is not always a precise measure. Banking customers tend to take advantage of different products at different stages and they expect their bank to have the capability to meet their changing banking needs. In their early years, they might not have much use for a branch but depend daily on electronic services such as mobile banking and using their debit cards. As their banking needs increase, however, they may want to consult with a banking professional in person. At PeoplesBank, we are orienting our products and customer services to each stage, so we can meet customers where they are.”

PeoplesBank’s customer experience and customer loyalty initiatives are quite sophisticated.

“Our customer experience and loyalty initiatives are data-driven and manifest themselves in everything from products, services, and even office design,” King Goodwin said. “We constantly search for new best practices, test them in our Customer Innovation Lab, and roll out what works for us and our customers.

Office design is probably one of our most exciting customer experience initiatives because the innovation and technology are so visible. Yet even with design, we apply those changes carefully, because what works in one area of our market might not be as applicable in another.”

The biggest challenge of personalization? Overdoing it, King Goodwin said.

“While the technologies serving personalization continue to increase and be data-driven, you cannot fit the human element into an algorithm,” she explained. “Therefore, we believe that personalization is largely based on human interactions, where real needs can be understood through conversation.”

Technology has provided tremendous new opportunities to serve customers.

“Most obvious is that we can deliver increased convenience and service through their phones,” King Goodwin said. “Through social media marketing and digital marketing, we can now find new customers through behavior targeting — in essence, we can target prospects that are actually looking for the products and services we offer through offers and incentives. Further, our content marketing efforts continue to increase in both breadth and depth as we work to serve the interests of a self-educating digital demographic. These technologies are in constant flux, as is our use of them.”

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