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How Retail Banks Are Meeting a Wider Scope of Customer Needs

Sales performance improvement

sales training for retail banking professionals


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Traditional retail banks are struggling to attract and retain customers. The rise of digital entrants has equipped consumers to bank with more independence than ever. In fact, research from PwC shows 55% of bank executives see these new solutions as a threat.

As a result, retail banks are asking their professionals to enhance their ability to use information learned during service conversations to deliver unexpected value by examining the customer’s broader set of needs. In doing so, they create a sale.

There are 3 key steps to enhancing the retail banking professional’s ability to deliver this unexpected value:

  1. Build a Better Mindset
  2. Engage the Customer
  3. Enhance Value

Build a Better Mindset

It is time for retail banking professionals to change their thinking. Service and sales can and should coexist. It is reasonable to use the service conversation to solve, then sell, in that order.

Joining these practices is necessary for three reasons:

    1. Adding unexpected value through additional products and solutions is often a part of creating a solution.
    2. Pairing expanded solutions with service is fast becoming an economic necessity.
    3. Retail banking professionals, unlike purely digital offerings, can identify the solution that is appropriate to the customer’s needs.
Bringing product positioning into service means adopting a new mindset. Retail banking professionals must view the sale as an opportunity to address the customer’s unfulfilled needs. Making this change requires active listening, self-awareness, and open-mindedness.

Engage the Customer

The long-term success of retail banking requires the professional to deliver on the customer’s expectations. The challenge: those expectations are higher than they have ever been.

Retail banks are quickly learning that excellent customer service has become a competitive advantage. The benefits to those who can deliver on these heightened expectations are considerable. Research from Bain shows that “a 5% increase in customer retention produces more than a 25% increase in profit.”

Achieving this increase, however, requires a concerted effort from the retail banking professional. They must ensure that the customer feels respected, understood, and important. The customer must believe that the retail banking professional is confident, caring, and capable. Put simply, retail banking professionals must be able to relate to the customer.

Retail banking professionals must find the right tone and language to engage the customer in the limited span of a service interaction. A strong opening helps the retail banking professional connect with the customer. It defuses negative emotions (if needed), fosters openness, and builds credibility.

The idea is to create a setting in which broader needs can be explored. This capability is critical when facing competition from fintech entities.

Enhance Value

Retail banks need to offer more to retain and grow existing accounts as digital-only options pervade the marketplace. Though these firms excel in areas like financial data storage, big data analytics, AI, and data security, few can uncover unseen value for the customer.

The retail banking professional has a unique advantage in driving this outcome. They can link the additional product or service to the customer’s stated need. This approach is different than an outbound approach.

A service conversation or call means that the customer has taken the first step. Therefore, the retail banking professional can position the sale as an extension to the customer’s request for a solution. As a result, the sale is more authentic and salient because it is part of the answer to a question the customer asked. When taking the conversation to this next level, retail banking professionals must set out to accomplish three goals:

    1. Pique Curiosity — The retail banking professional must be able to spark the customer’s interest. They must make them willing to stay engaged in the conversation. This engagement is necessary for the professional to be able to address the wider scope of needs. The best way to do this is to reference a cue or clue from earlier in the conversation.
    2. Position with Organization — When linking the capability to the customer’s needs, it is important to position with organization. If a customer doesn’t understand the offer, they will end the conversation. Restarting is near impossible. Structure limits the burden placed on the customer by clarifying the path forward.
    3. Resolve Objections — Positioning unexpected value can incite defensiveness from the customer. The retail banking professional must engage in a dialogue to understand and resolve the customer’s resistance. The key here is to take the time to truly understand the customer’s position, then ask questions that seek to reveal the detail behind that position.
Personalization drives the quality of customer interaction. As digital options push speed and efficiency, retail banks must leverage the competitive advantage that comes from being able to read the customer’s emotional cues to reduce anxiety, resolve the customer’s issue, and offer unexpected value.

The retail banking professional has a level of access to the customer’s thinking that is unmatched. Capitalizing on these opportunities, however, requires a new mindset in which expanded services become part of the solution.

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