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It’s all about consistency…

September 19, 2011 (comments: 0)

Likely, many of you are now offering up to five different ways for customers/members to obtain their account balances. Yet amazingly, for most institutions, balance inquiry is still the #1 transaction for call center agents and it still ranks high as a primary reason for many branch visits.

Why is this? Why aren’t consumers taking greater advantage of self-service options? I believe that they have the perception that it is easier, and they are more likely to get accurate information, if they speak with a live representative.

Is this an accurate view of your organization’s delivery channels? Do channels exist in their own silos of data and processes?  

Whether this perception is accurate, or not, I believe the key to changing perceptions is consistency. Consistency in the content of a response and consistency in the delivery of information builds confidence in your institution in the eyes of customers/members and your staff (yes, your staff); and, we all know that confidence and trust is the foundation of any good relationship.

So, how do you achieve consistency? One, employ a single “system of record” approach to organizing data. If there is only one data source used by all channels – self-service as well as live agents – then the information will truly be consistent across the enterprise. When staff can count on the fact that they can easily pull up accurate, up-to-date information (customer/member and product data, transaction  histories, etc.) from your system every time they assist a customer/member, they are confident in the service they provide—and that confidence will then be conveyed to consumers. Not to mention, training staff to use a single system of record is significantly faster and easier.

Two, establish a single process flow for the delivery of information. Regardless of channel, a single process flow can be designed and executed which always moves the interaction through a predefined set of steps—this results in a sense of familiarity and comfort with how the information is retrieved and delivered. For example:

Step 1. Customer/member is greeted in a personalized way

Step 2. Customer/member is always identified

Step 3. The reason for the interaction is determined (How can we help you?). And so forth, through fulfillment or determining the next steps that will bring a satisfying close.

Consistency builds comfort and confidence. We all feel better when our expectations are based on experience—and delivering great customer experiences is the name of the game.

Part II: It’s Time to Engage Your Tellers in Sales

July 22, 2011 (comments: 0)

Coaching to the “I’m just a teller” attitude

As I am sure you know all too well, some people are more willing and able to engage in selling than others, so there will always be a few people who just can’t get there. At the same time, there will be a few tellers who are naturals. For the rest, we need to help them adapt to a changing role for tellers in the delivery of sales and service. I do not have any magic words to coach the reluctant, but I do have an opinion on how to maximize the overall performance of the teller team.

I believe there are two key factors that need to be addressed early on. First is fear; many tellers are just plain scared of engaging the member/customer. They are afraid of not knowing what to say to begin the conversation, afraid of not knowing what to say if the member does want to talk about a product offer and afraid of annoying the member if they are not interested at all. 

The second factor is motivation. Tellers are busy most of the day. Adding the steps of presenting offers and capturing leads increases their workload—so it’s all about giving them the right motivation to take those activities on. I recently visited a credit union branch where tellers were engaged in lead generation. One teller generated about 90 referrals in a week. Phenomenal! The closest teller did about half that many. When questioned on what motivated her, she said she liked being recognized as the top performer. She was motivated by the recognition of her peers and her managers. Her enthusiasm yielded the additional benefit of motivating her peers to do better. Working as part of a team where everyone’s contribution is tracked and recognized is a powerful message all by itself. Recognition is always the #1 motivator as revealed in industry surveys (even over money).

I have heard it said that all emotions stem from two—love and fear. So, how can we help tellers to stop fearing sales activities and put them on a path to loving their success, if not the activities themselves?  I believe the uncertainties that underlie their fears can be eliminated or at least dramatically reduced by taking a few key steps.

1. The organization should make certain that the offers being made to members have real value. When the teller feels comfortable that the offer really is good for the member, then they are more comfortable delivering the message. If the teller needs coaching to understand the value that is ok. 

2. Knowing that the answers to most potential member questions are at their fingertips will also eliminate a lot of anxiety. Even though tellers receive product training, creating scripts or “cheat sheets” with key details provides support for tellers who are just getting started and gives them a safety net in the early going. Knowing that you are there to catch them if they fall may be just enough motivation to take the next steps.

Coaching is always challenging, but it’s easier when the basics are in place to move the team forward.

Capturing leads: Does it take a natural sales person, the right technology or the right motivation?

May 23, 2011 (comments: 1)

Last week, I accompanied a bank who is evaluating our unified Sales Management system on a visit to our largest credit union client. We met at one of the busiest branches and were hosted by the branch manager and her team—who did a phenomenal job of presenting the system. While looking at performance dashboards, the banker noticed that one of the CU’s tellers had generated a huge number of leads (capturing  approximately 90 referrals in one week), significantly more than any of her colleagues.

In the ensuing discussion, it was explained that this teller just loves to talk with members, and that with the new system, capturing leads for new products is so easy that she can do it with little extra effort and as part of the natural flow of conversation. Everyone else in the branch is watching this person’s performance and they are all motivated to achieve record results themselves. At this point, there is a very little financial reward involved. The reward is personal satisfaction and recognition by her peers and management.

I left with three thoughts about this experience.

1. Maybe there are natural born sales people, but everyone benefits from being part of an enthusiastic team

2. Recognition is always first on the list of sales motivators, with money showing up further down the list.

3. Financial institutions who want to not only survive, but also thrive in this market better equip their team members to compete.