For UK-based banks, earning primary banking relationships, meaning that customers identify a given bank as their main bank, has become increasingly important. These customers hold the key to unlocking earned growth, or revenue growth generated by returning customers and their referrals.
Data from Bain’s NPS Prism® benchmarking platform shows that across traditional banks and digital insurgents in the UK, primary customers create value in several ways (see Figure 1). First, they are repeat buyers: On average, primary customers are more than three times as likely as nonprimary customers to hold multiple products at a given bank (see Figure 2). This is especially true for customers of high street banks—these traditional large retail banks with both a physical and digital presence have typically built up a broader product portfolio than newer, predominantly digital entrants, or neobanks. Furthermore, neobanks often initiate customer relationships through more transactional banking products, such as debit cards or current accounts, which are less likely to prompt the addition of other banking products.
Primary customers are also less likely to switch banks for their current or savings account (see Figure 3). Compared with nonprimary customers across institutions, their likelihood of defecting dropped by more than 11 percentage points, according to NPS Prism data.
Finally, primary customers are more likely to recommend their bank to others (see Figure 4). Primary customers rate their bank with an average Net Promoter ScoreSM—a measure of how consistently companies turn customers into advocates—that is more than triple than that of nonprimary customers at the same bank. Here, digital-native neobanks excel, achieving higher levels of customer satisfaction than high street banks.
As consumers diversify their financial assets across banks and accounts, leading banks will focus on identifying and investing in their primary customers. By cultivating these critical relationships, these firms will reap the rewards of a strong flywheel of repeat business and recommendations.