BRASÍLIA – While digital banks are struggling to keep expanding their customer base in a world where winning them over has become more expensive, Federal Savings Bank (CEF) boasts 148 million of them, attracted by products such as real estate credit and the distribution of resources from federal government programs. Less than 10%, however, have a recurring banking relationship with the institution.
One of the ambitions of the new president, Daniella Marquesis to change this situation, and the focus on the customer is the main bet in this direction, says the vice president of the bank’s retail network, Julio Volppto Estadão/Broadcast.
“When I look at these 148 million customers who have this first opportunity at Caixa (to have a bank), and the number of account holders who handle their accounts, I see that the customer who walked through the door is not choosing Caixa as their first bank. relationship”, says Volpp. For him, the focus on products is the cause of this “severe funnel”.
Competition from fintechs has made it more challenging for banks to earn revenue on standalone products, in the face of rivals that offer no-fee accounts and no-annual-fee cards. This has led institutions to shift their focus to customer relationships, so that they resolve most of their financial lives there, from checking accounts to life insurance, and do not think about leaving.
The state bank has already taken a first step: Caixa pra Elas, launched in August and aimed at women. They are 53% of customers, but internal numbers point out that they do not reach 2% of the public for some products. To increase this presence, Caixa added products that it already had under an offer that was more suitable for women entrepreneurs, an audience to which Daniella Marques devoted efforts since she was secretary of the Ministry of Economy.
In addition to the reconfiguration of the branches for the program, with spaces dedicated to services for women, Caixa created access to the Caixa Tem application to simplify navigation for customers. In this section, there have been more than 13 million hits.
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The experience with the service channels is one of the main points that satisfy or annoy customers, as Silvio Marotea partner at the consultancy Bain & Company, in addition to tariffs or access to credit. “Over time, what is more sustainable is a service that is less organized by products and more organized by customer needs”, says Marote.
Volpp, from Caixa, recognizes that revamping the customer experience is not a quick process. First, because it involves thinking about each group of customers: Caixa’s idea is to separate the base into different niches to think about their needs in detail and create specific offers. According to him, a group to which logic can be applied is the individual micro-entrepreneurs (MEI).
Second, because it depends on a readjustment of all channels, including the physical, which is fundamental for CEF. “We started a discussion of service models so that everyone is closed at the same station (table)”, exemplifies Volpp.
Bruno Diniz, partner of the innovation consultancy Spiralem, points out that, at Caixa, the physical branch plays a crucial role. “For the public that Caixa serves, having a network of branches makes all the difference, because even though they are digitizing themselves, they still feel the need for physical contact,” he says.
Caixa believes that proximity to audiences “distant” from the financial system can help it convince customers who are scared of “bancarês” not to leave through the revolving door. “Caixa’s customer profile is perhaps inverted to that of the rest of the banks, almost reflecting the population pyramid”, says Volpp. “This client thinks that the bank is not the place for him and sees Caixa as a possibility for a relationship because he has this link with the FGTS, unemployment insurance, Casa Verde and Amarela or Auxílio Brasil.”
For Marote, from Bain & Company, the main challenge for the success of banks in the strategy of looking more at the customer is cultural: it is necessary to convince each area to act in accordance with the new orientation. This poses an additional challenge for a bank with 90,000 employees and 26,000 service points.
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Another CEF asset in this dispute, according to the vice of Rede de Varejo, is the Caixa Tem app, which grew exponentially with the payment of emergency aid, in 2020, and “banked” 38 million people. In July, according to SensorTower data compiled by Bank of America, the platform had 126 million downloads and 21 million active users, the highest total among major banks.
Diniz, from Spiralem, says that in this arena Caixa competes with heavyweights: in addition to fintechs, it competes with digital wallets, such as PicPay and Bitz. In this segment, the focus is the low-income public, precisely the CEF’s biggest target.
Still in the previous management, the bank started using the platform to distribute products that would be unfeasible in the branch network, such as microcredit. The strategy ahead can advance a few squares. “What we hear from people at Caixa is that the idea is, over time, to transform (Caixa Tem) into a kind of social superapp”, says Diniz.