As competition heats up from the likes of Walmart, PayPal and other shadow banking organizations, financial institutions need to improve customer engagement in order to increase wallet share, customer acquisition and retention. Additionally, technological advances and customers’ experiences in other industries have altered customers’ expectations and needs, which give banks both opportunities and challenges.
The sales opportunity lies in the account-opening, process, a critical step in a customer’s journey with a bank. And the best time to capitalize on this opportunity is at the point of sale, when customers are already in the buying mode. Customers who have a great point-of-sale experience are inclined to consider additional products or services from the bank. Alternatively, a poor experience can sour them on the bank. To succeed in the onboarding process, banks need to own the customer experience as other retail organizations already have learned.
Here are some items to consider when putting together your strategy:
Allow customers to use the channel of their choice. Banks need to create a convenient experience that makes customers want to purchase from them. The “omnichannel” experience must become the new normal, meaning that the customer’s interaction with the bank should be consistent whether they are online, in the branch, speaking to customer service or on a mobile device. This requires the organization to evolve business processes, achieve operational alignment and deploy new technology tools. Staff must have the ability to close the deal virtually. And customers must be able to conduct complex business transactions with the bank on their own schedule, not just deposit checks or check balances.
Enable customers to change their engagement channel seamlessly. Customers need the flexibility to transition from one channel to another, even during the span of one day. For example, they may begin an interaction using mobile when they are at work and end it at a branch on their way home from work. Typically in banking, the hand-off from one channel to another has been haphazard at best and customers often have to provide their details all over again with completely new files created at the new channel. This results in time-consuming tasks by both customers and bank staff and certainly is not conducive to a great customer experience.
Engage customers about their financial needs. It is crucial to be able to ask prospects about their financial objectives and current financial situation in real time instead of relying on outdated demographics. By giving staff the tools to collect up-to-date data on customers and prospects in a systematic approach, banks will gain a deeper knowledge of customers that will allow them to personalize the customer’s banking experience.
Communicate compelling and complete offers. Combine this collected customer data with analytics so that you can evaluate the customer’s responses and then create recommended product bundles to meet their specific needs. In real time, present the recommended product bundles in compelling offers that are consistent across each channel, giving customers a personalized offering based on their financial needs and eligibility. Customers need to be aware of all of their options, not just the ones that are popular or easy for branch staff to open. Implementing technology that enables discovery along with a decision process that allows banks to recommend the most suitable products for each individual customer will result in upsell and cross sell opportunities. A synopsis of all products customers are eligible for should be provided to staff in an easy-to-read manner.
Turn account openings into conversations. Turn account openings into conversations by giving banking personnel the tools to create a personalized, high-touch experience when meeting with customers either digitally or face-to-face. Implement the latest mobile technologies to provide customers the option of self-service or assisted consultation by the most appropriate bank expert. On more complex products, such as wealth management or merchandise processing, a detailed explanation is likely required and often the expert resources aren’t physically available in the branch. Being able to interact with product experts via mobile video technology is a crucial asset during complex account openings.
Measure the effectiveness of each channel. Banks shouldn’t be making decisions on intuition; they need to make decisions based on real data. Bank executives need tools to enable them to quickly spot customer trends and gain actionable insights about their customers. If customers are not responding to promotions or a specific channel initiative, bankers need to know it quickly in order to meet customer demand and expectation. Maybe additional training, coaching or other alignments need to be made. But unless it is measured it can’t be managed.
By fanatically focusing on a positive customer experience at the point-of-sale, you insulate buyers from competitors and promote the long-term health of your bank.
Mr. Orlowsky is CEO of Dallas-based-based Ignite Sales Inc. He can be reached at email@example.com.