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Friday, March 21, 2014

Branch Field Leaders: Stop Discussing Sales & Service Separately

By Beth Youra

This post is part of Gallup's ongoing series on the shifting landscape for financial institutions. It provides insights into channel optimization, emerging customer behaviors and preferences, product penetration and relationship growth, engaging the most critical affluent and business customers, and reshaping banks' overall value proposition.

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Sales and service are the same thing. There -- I said it. But more often than not, what we hear during morning huddles is more like this:

“We still need three home equity applications this week, two more credit cards, and two more checking accounts. Always check your screen to see if the customer is eligible for any promotions and remember we are running the contest on credit card applications. Julie is in the lead this week with five, let’s see how high we can go! Any questions on the offers?”

And then, “We need two more surveys with 100% scores to maintain our customer service score and get our full bonus this quarter. You all know that this week we are working on making our customers’ business our top priority. James, can you give us a recent example of how you made a customer’s business your top priority?”

The information being communicated here clearly needs to be brought to your employees’ attention. But by talking about sales and service goals separately, leaders are only reinforcing the incorrect notion that sales and service are separate things and making employees feel like they have to focus on each program separately. The reality is that, when it’s done well, a sale is simply servicing your customers’ needs by giving them something new that helps them meet their goals.

Let’s revisit that morning huddle. What if it sounded more like this?

“This week we are working on making our customers’ needs our top priority. To let our customers know they’re our No. 1 priority, we need to ask questions to understand their needs. Let’s talk about what kinds of needs customers’ have -- they have both personal and financial needs, and when these two come together we should be there to help them. Imagine a situation where you are talking to a customer and they mention they are going on a vacation. Let’s role-play -- I’ll be the customer and you will ask me questions to better understand my needs.”

Through the role play, the branch manager can help employees connect asking questions about their customers’ lives (their kids, travel plans, work plans, upcoming purchases, etc.) to what and how they are selling. For example, a customer with an upcoming trip may be a good candidate for a rewards-based credit card, and this also presents an opportunity to remind employees about the credit card contest. It’s important to remember that not every interaction will end with a sale, but when employees demonstrate genuine interest in a customer’s needs, they will naturally provide great service while increasing opportunities for the sale.

It’s time to stop overcomplicating the messaging about sales and service programs in the field. Everyone needs to meet their goals in both, but these goals are not mutually exclusive. At the end of the day, it’s all about meeting the needs of your customers. If you frame your messaging around this, you can’t go wrong in either the context of service or sales.

To learn more about how to increase customer engagement and growth, visit Gallup’s Banking Knowledge Center.

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