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Citigroup is a multinational banking institution and rated among top 10 banking institutes of the world in 2006. It has more than 40,000 B2B corporate clients in 101 countries (Ivan Schneider, 2006) (for example in 2009 it has made partnerships with Bank of China on September 16, 2009, Sun Trust on September 15, 2009, Agricultural Bank of China on September 14, 2009, Erste group bank AG on September 4, 2009, Kookmin bank partners on september14, 2009, World bank group's IFC in $1.25 billion partnership on june15, 2009 (Citigroup, 2010)). It was introduced in 1812 and still growing. It offers financial services to B2C, B2B and Public Sector business entities. Maximum number of B2B organizations belongs to IT sector, but it is one such organization. It has many business ventures with other companies and does business with corporate clients (Heinemann, 1991). Citigroup has a strong relationship marketing strategies to retain new and existing customers.
Use of RM at Citigroup
The three basic elements that are essential for implementation of RM to be successful are described below:
- When consumer demand for a product is continuous
- When consumer make the choice of one commodity
- When the customer has a wide range of products and services to choose from
Firstly, Citigroup provides both investment and commercial services such as-
Mortgages, priority banking for high net worth clients, loans, investment banking, telephone banking and card products.
This implies that Business clients have many choices at their disposal.
Secondly, there is a continuous need for these services by B2B customers in a Banking sector
Thirdly, the clients who wish to have business with the bank normally choose one service, but in case of Citigroup they come to take loan, or invest money in the group (Jackson, 1995).
The Citigroup is implementing RM through consumer tracking. It is maintaining customer database to analyze their changing taste and preferences. It is a leader in Business Communications with their B2B clients and has a policy to ask their opinions about the company. Citigroup has found that clients prefer certain financial services over others. It has also researched that clients are keep coming for re-business deals for certain services during the specific seasons. This way it is possible for Citigroup to focus their energies and developing long-term relationships by providing them maximum returns and is accelerated by improving the services to clients with which they were not satisfied i.e. corporate loans and now group found that clients are happy and satisfied with the rate of interest it is offering. This improvement through RM made the company very keen on their service. Corporate clients who need this service are receiving special attention, as a result, sales are increasing and more clients are retaining (Fornell and Wernerfelt, 1997).
Personalized marketing is one of the cornerstones of relationship marketing and Citigroup was quick to notice this. It involved the use of client profiling techniques to market the organization's services. Here, a client’s details are noted down by the organization of interest including what type of items they prefer buying. The organization can then establish a trend and recommend certain commodities to them based on the pattern. Besides this, organizations can be able to identify what types of customers are responsive and focus on providing them better services. By doing this, companies will be improving their performance rate and solidifying their market performance. Citigroup did this effectively through the use of its 'First 30 days’ relationship marketing strategy. This was an idea pioneered by its relationship marketing manager in the year 1987. The basis behind this consumer strategy is that new customers are followed up through personalized marketing. This is done for a period of one month such that the bank can obtain useful data about their new consumers. After that period, they have full information about a customer’s responsiveness and can therefore deal with customers who will give them adequate return rates (Gordon, 1999).
It is not possible to apply Relationship Marketing strategies without co-operation of other departments of company in the sale of services. It is important for marketers to integrate marketing functions and Citigroup has been very smart in this (Gordon, 1999).
How Citigroup used the different approaches to relationship marketing and benefits obtained
Citigroup usually asks their customers through emails or interactions on phone or in-personal, whether they would like to take part in their survey. On acceptance they ask their likes and dislikes about the services and what improvements they want in the services. They also conduct surveys on their pricing of services. This gives enough information to determine changes they should made in services to clients preferences. Clients are now happy and satisfied with the services, Citigroup has modified. This implies that the Citigroup has solidified the relationship between clients & Bank. Such banks are subject to the theory of economics called "the leaking bucket". Here such banks spend most of their time and efforts in the acquisition of new clients and very little in the retention of existing ones. Consequently, newer clients only purchase items/ services once and never come back. This means that the firm may get increased profits as it gets new clients, on the other hand, it keeps loosing profits from the departure of old clients. In the end, minimal profits are made. This sort of behavior is synonymous to a leaking bucket that never actually holds much content. Citigroup did not ignore their old clients and this was the reason why they have been identified as one of the most profitable financial institutions in the world.