There’s a story on the wires today that Citigroup is splitting off its credit card business. If that’s the case, here’s some advice for Steven Freiberg (who will likely run the newly independent business) that is very similar to advice that I gave to Vikram Pandit, Citi’s CEO: Fix Citi’s customer experience problem. Why? Because it’s good business.
To start with, I just published a report that examines the linkage between customer experience and loyalty. It turns out that there’s a strong connection in credit cards. Consumers are much more likely to buy another product from a credit card issuer and be more reluctant to switch from that issuer if the firm delivers a good experience.
Our research also shows that credit card experiences, especially at Citi, are broken:
In June 2007, Forrester released its 2007 customer advocacy rankings of 53 large banks, brokerages, insurers, and credit card issuers. Citibank (credit cards) came out in 49th place.
In May 2007, Forrester analyzed the cross-channel experience of four large credit card issuers. Citibank came in last place.
In February 2007, we looked at consumers’ perceptions of different financial services brands. Compared to the other 13 large banks on the list, Citibank was one of the BOTTOM TWO for the following brand attributes: “leading-edge,” secure,” “honest,” “friendly,” “family-oriented,” “helpful,” “accessible,” and “convenient.”
In a research report that just went live late last week, Customer Relationship Snapshot: Credit Card Providers, I looked at credit card relationships across generations of consumers. It turns out that credit card firms have the biggest problem with consumers younger than 40; so that’s probably a good place for Freiberg to focus Citi’s attention.
The bottom line: Splitting the business is an opportunity; hopefully Citi’s credit card business is up to the challenge.