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Where is the traditional teller role heading…oblivion?

January 3, 2013 (comments: 0)

Indications are that the primary role of tellers will change at some institutions in the next few years, but not all. Conducting routine financial transactions with a live person is still preferred by a significant portion of the customer base, especially customers amongst an older demographic who tend to have higher net worth. Many institutions attempt to cost justify this personal service, through transaction fees or offsetting investments, with varying success.

However, there is big opportunity to get a tangible payback on the Teller role—position them to participate in customer relationship development strategies and sales efforts, specifically by generating qualified leads. The sales/relationship effort can be very straight forward and productive if a teller is provided with relevant, personalized offers for the customer at the time they greet and identify them.

Perhaps some Tellers can assume a “meet and greet” role in front of the counter. Light weight, wireless tablets provide a means to start the transaction process with a validation of the customer ID, and capture details upfront that will advance the next steps; whether they be a transaction, service issue or desire to speak with a CSR. Routing the customer and the transaction will ensure faster service and efficient utilization of branch staff skills.

With the increase in self-service channels, a likely career path for Tellers is in the Call Center where they can put their service skills to good use while building product knowledge and developing a needs-based selling technique. The ability to deliver personalized service and to truly understand customer needs is a skill that will never go out of demand.

In whatever way the role evolves, experienced Tellers should continue to play a key part in the delivery of positive customer experiences.

Converting customers into advocates

January 17, 2012 (comments: 0)

A few weeks ago I was having lunch with a banker friend from a top Malaysian institution. I asked him what he believed to be the most effective form of promotion for a bank. Without hesitation he said customer advocacy. Although that was what I was thinking—I did not expect this to be his first answer. I am not sure why I was surprised, after all, a recommendation from someone we trust is the way most of us prefer to make any vendor choice. When we are faced with two or more options we feel safer following in the footsteps of a friend or a peer who has had a positive experience. It just struck me as an uncharacteristic answer coming from a banker because the traditional bank marketing approach relies heavily on mass communication through traditional advertising mediums. One-to-many communication doesn’t go far in cultivating advocates.

So what does? Focusing organizational resources (personnel and infrastructure) to:

  • Consistently deliver exceptional quality products – that are personalized, relevant, intelligent
  • Consistently provide exceptional quality service – know your customer
  • Consistently create exceptional experiences on all channels – especially the channel of each customer’s choice
  • Build a marketplace reputation for consistently providing a WOW experience – exceed customer expectations

There’s clearly a theme here—consistency. When customers can rely on the fact that they will get responsive, personalized service every time they interact with your bank, and that you are offering them products that will make their lives easier as well as help them to meet their financial objectives, loyalty will follow. The act of providing them with offers and service that enhance their positive feelings about your products will “convert” customers into advocates or ambassadors for the institution.

It’s the message not the medium!

October 11, 2011 (comments: 0)

Here we go again…introducing more new channels for delivering financial transactions to our existing customers/members. Will this just be one more way to check account balances?

It seems that every five years or so banks and credit unions fall all over themselves in an effort to stay competitive by introducing the latest and greatest channel technology. Why?  

Number one reason—because everyone else is doing it. While new technology usually offers some advantages to the customer or the institution, functionality all too often, remains business as usual. The medium is new, but it’s the same old message.

This time it should be different, it’s time for a change in the game. This time when we jump into mobile banking solutions, social media strategies or Web 2.0 initiatives, we should stop and remember it’s about the message not just one more way to check account balances or to deliver a “special offer”  that may not even be relevant to the customer.

This time, when we introduce a new channel technology, it should be unified with most, if not all, existing channel technologies, and the channel applications should share data while executing a single corporate strategy for delivering consistent messages across all channels—not just the latest. By integrating channel applications, you will be able to unify the message and the personalized marketing efforts with the relationship and service efforts of your front-line, whether it is through a service rep or a self-service channel option. Optimizing all channel investments through unification should be the goal, not simply introducing new channels to appeal to segments of your customer/member base.

This time the plans and the strategies need to focus first on the message then on the medium. Who we are trying to reach and for what purpose needs to be unified with other organizational marketing and relationship building efforts.

Mobile, social media and Web 2.0 technologies offer a world of possibilities, but to take advantage of them (in a profitable way) requires a business strategy and an organizational structure that allows the customer to select the channel of their choice. The message should remain consistent whether it is a transaction, a personal service follow-up, intelligent and relevant marketing outreach or a relationship building contact. Being able to consistently deliver (regardless of channel) is the real game changer.