Strategies

Retention

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Identify signs of at-risk accounts, neutralize problems and increase cardholder satisfaction 

Best Practices: 

(Employees) 

  • Train your staff to recognize certain cues that an account may be at risk,  These may include: 

    • Requests for the payoff amount of an outstanding balance 

    • Questions about interest rates or other credit card account terms 

    • Indications that a cardholder is dissatisfied with the resolution of an account problem 

  • Empower staff to extend counter offers, but beware of "knee jerk" rate reduction to match or beat a competitor's offer. You may not be able to match the lowest APR on the market, but perhaps your bank can "win" these cardholders by educating them about the terms and conditions of your product versus the "great deal" they were just offered 

  • Track attrition rates. Visa reports average voluntary attrition rates range from five to 27 percent 

    • Total # voluntary cardholder-closed accounts at year-end DIVIDED BY Total # cardholder accounts at beginning of the same year 

(Customers) 

  • Conduct surveys of cardholders who have closed their accounts or become inactive cardholders to find out: 

    • Why they cancelled 

    • What card is their preferred card and why 

    • How might you persuade them to reactivate 

  • Analyze closed accounts versus long-term cardholder accounts to determine differences 

  • Contact cardholders who have had no activity for two billing cycles and offer an incentive for card usage, such as: 

    • A free second card 

    • A balance transfer that can be paid off at a lower APR

Lifecycle management is about retaining cardholders and maximizing the value of each customer relationship. A portfolio manager can do this by closely monitoring cardholder behavior, encouraging customer dialogue to uncover needs and priorities, and developing marketing programs to meet the needs and increase the value of customer relationships throughout their lifecycles. 

Lifecycle Management helps answer every marketer's biggest questions: 

  • What to promote? 

  • When to promote? 

  • To whom? 

  • How much to spend? 

During the first year of a cardholder's lifecycle, there are very specific, sequential marketing goals that build on one another and lead to the desired behavior: 

Month 1-3

Activate and Educate

Month 4-6

Build Sustained Usage

Month 7+

Build and Sustain Balances

Month 12+

Build Loyalty and Brand Preference

The goals for a new cardholder should be very relationship-oriented and may differ from goals later in the cardholder's lifecycle. 

Early Month on Book Marketing 

  • The first 90 days are the most critical in lifecycle management for shaping cardholder behavior.  It is important to: 

  • Engage early and often 

  • Set a positive tone from the beginning 

  • Focus content on the product's value prop to remind customers why they got the card 

  • Make it easy to activate 

  • Use a mix of channels to increase reach to cardholders 

  • Continually analyze your data to identify inactives, move those who have activated into targeted usage campaigns, and identify those who are not engaging

There are six steps to lifecycle management: 

  • Segment cardholders by value. This helps answer, How much to spend? 

  • Segment cardholders by behavior. This helps answer, What to promote? and To whom? 

  • Define the marketing and behavior goals you want to achieve. 

  • Determine the sequence of promotions necessary to achieve your goals. 

  • Execute the first promotion and track member behavior. 

  • Cardholder behavior and cardholder value will determine what to do next. Cardholders who have exhibited the desired behavior are ready for the next promotion. Those who have not may receive another promotion targeted at the same behavior, or you may decide they are not worth contacting again, based on cardholder value. 

Best Practices: 

  • It is important to remember that many of the decisions made in lifecycle management are based on cardholder value. The number of promotions you execute and your total marketing investment is dictated by a cardholder’s revenue potential. You should stop investing in a cardholder when marketing costs equal projected cardholder value. 

  • New cardholders are the best group to begin implementation of a cardholder lifecycle management program. It is much easier to track promotional history and associated behavior at the beginning of a relationship. 

  • The ultimate goal is to migrate cardholders along desirable behavior paths so that they increase usage and become loyal cardholders.


Research shows that cardholders tend to seek additional credit elsewhere when they reach 35-40 percent of their credit limits. Regular credit line management that grants credit line increases to qualified cardholders is very important to account retention and portfolio growth. 

Tactics: 

  • Evaluate current cardholder credit lines 

  • Target the cardholders that have used 35% or more of their credit line. 

  • Consider the risk associated with these individuals based on: 

    • When the cardholder's last increase was provided 

    • Longevity of account 

Best Practices:  

  • The "30-40% rule" should be used: Cardholders like to maintain a certain amount of availability in case of an emergency. Consider how much an emergency costs. Deduct whatever that amount is from the overall credit line to determine how much is actually available for use. 

  • Evaluate the need for an increase by reviewing not only the existing balance but also the highest balance on the account. 

  • Develop a continuous Credit Line Management Strategy. Increases should be performed with regularity from year to year since cardholders often become accustomed to receiving increases. 

  • Consider credit increases of at least $500 for maximum impact. 

  • Send letters and use Statement Messages to congratulate your cardholders for their excellent credit history and reward them with a higher credit limit.