3 things every bank can learn from IKEA

IKEA FamilyThink IKEA is just about low-cost furniture for dorms? Think again. It's a company well-founded in purpose, offering nesting and affordable design for all. IKEA can teach every banker how to grow loyalty and profit from the inside out. Read on for our 3 favorite ways:

1. lead customers through your "store"
At IKEA, there’s a prescribed path from the entrance to the check out. IKEA wants to be sure its shoppers know about everything it has to offer—not merely what they came to shop for—so it leads customers through the store with illuminated arrows on the floor.IKEA furniture shop department route map sign July 2012IKEA furniture shop route map sign. Photo courtesy Wikipedia.

While I don’t propose that you force people to walk through your bank along a certain route, you should ask yourself whether customers really know everything you have to offer them.

If they are not fully banked with you, do you know why? Have your customers been lured to doing business with other institutions that have done a better job assessing their needs? Or do they simply have financial needs going unmet?

Either way, you must lead and educate so that customers get what they need, not just what they came to buy.

2. treat customers like family and friends
IKEA customers can sign up to be part of its “family” for free. Once signed up, they receive discounts, free in-store child care, complimentary coffee and tea in the cafe and other in-store benefits.

Besides the in-store perks, IKEA also gives families buy-one-get-one tickets to museums and attractions located nearby.

Friends bring friends. IKEA recognizes that too, and offers easy ways for its “family” members to bring their friends into the fold.

Many banks don’t offer loyalty programs. Others have loyalty programs that don’t offer the benefits customers really appreciate and use. Some have nice benefits—but only if customers jump through a ton of hoops.

  • A bank that encourages financial responsibility should offer programs for kids and seminars for adults that support those values.
  • An institution focusing on small businesses could partner with the local SBA to provide support on issues such as financial management, taxes, DBE certifications and more.

Follow IKEA’s lead. Make your program easy and be sure it fits your brand attributes.

3. treat employees like customers
IKEA wears its heart on its sleeve. The employment page displays its values loud and clear. You’ll see attributes like:

  • Leadership by example
  • Togetherness and enthusiasm
  • Humbleness and willpower
  • Simplicity
  • Cost-consciousness
  • Striving to meet reality
  • Constant desire for renewal
  • Constantly being “on the way”

What’s really special about these? They’re not the run-of-the-mill values seen on corporate walls everywhere. They’re genuine and inspiring.

On IKEA’s website, you’ll see store associates giving testimonials and talking about their growth opportunities with the company.

are you showing prospective employees your true brand—or bland?
Take a look at your institution’s employment page. If it sounds something like this, you’re like most everyone else—and not very attractive:

We offer competitive salaries, flexible hours, great benefits and the opportunity for advancement in both full- and part-time employment. No financial experience is needed - just a big smile and the drive to be part of our team!

According to Fast Company Magazine, who named IKEA one of its top Innovative Companies in 2015, “in 2014, Ikea’s U.S. arm invested in another part of the in-store experience—its people. It now uses the MIT Living Wage Calculator, not local requirements, to determine the hourly rate for each particular market. As a result, 33 of the 40 U.S. stores increased their wages on January 1 (five stores already offered pay above the living wage) and 50% of its U.S. retail workforce will see a pay bump in 2015.”

IKEA knows that happy employees are more effective and sell more. Lower costs for turnover, training and onboarding also strongly affect the bottom line.

make it a whole experience
IKEA delivers an entire experience at every brand touchpoint. Customers know what it offers, are loyal and bring their friends. Those same attributes can drive your institution’s business forward as well.

Need help building a profitable financial brand from the inside out? Call Martha direct at 785.969.6203.


 Tags: business strategy, banking, financial institutions, employee engagement, brand experience, customer loyalty, sales, profit

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