"If you want a relationship, have it with a dog"

In the CUES Experience Podcast 03, Arkadi Kuhlman said:

"ING Direct earns the respect of our customers through repeated transactions, not by having kids run through wheat fields and by telling everyone we are into relationships. If you want a relationship, have it with a dog. Why you would want a relationship with a financial institution is beyond me."

Arkadi Kuhlman is the Chairman, CEO and President of ING Direct USA. He said these words very matter-of-factly during his keynote presentation. He also scoffed at the notion of having a CRM system, segmenting customers and analyzing customer profitability.

Arkadi is the self-professed bad-boy of banking. He is controversial and outspoken. His presentation was bold and opinionated and hard to ignore. He obviously knows a thing or two about building a new bank—ING Direct USA is only seven years old and has $80 billion in assets and 7,000,000 customers. All of this with only a website, a call centre, consistent marketing and a simple value proposition.

If you make a fuss or want special treatment, ING Direct closes your account. In fact, ING Direct close 5,000 of the 100,000 new accounts it opens every month. Despite these hard-nose tactics, ING Direct has a 96% satisfaction rating and a 60% Net Promoter Score.

What gives? This idea of not building relationships with customers is the exact opposite of what most credit unions have based their business strategy on. ING Direct's numbers don't lie—$1 billion of new money goes into it's simple one-rate savings accounts every month.

Meanwhile, credit unions attempt to build deep relationships with everyone by offering a broad menu of products and services.

Are credit unions wrong or is there room for both business models to work?

Tim