This is another guest post by my friend Jeannette Paladino of Write Speak Sell. She is former SVP & Marketing Director of the Bowery Savings Bank.
By Jeannette Paladino
Write Speak Sell
In my last post, I recommended 10 activities that community banks can undertake to retain their customers and bring in new ones. These activities are wonderful ways to communicate with your customers at very little cost. But your employees need to be trained in following through on your promises.
When times are tough, below-the-line investments in training, PR and other so-called non-revenue producing programs get cut. When banks do keep the training train running, employees will often find excuses not to attend – often because they are afraid their bosses will react negatively for the time taken away from the job. There is only one person in the entire bank who can make training work. Guess who? The CEO.
Let me give you a concrete example of why employees need training. A major money center bank in New York mounted an expensive print and radio advertising campaign touting their excellent customer service. Their ads promised customers “$5 if your wait at the teller line exceeds five minutes.” They spent a bundle on this campaign. So one day (this is before ATMs became ubiquitous) I was online at the bank behind an elderly gentleman. He had completed his transaction and then pushed a $20 bill back to the teller and asked for small bills. Her angry response: “I just gave you this money. Why didn’t you tell me when I was counting out the money that you wanted small bills!?” She was loud enough to make both the customer and me take a step back. Down the drain went some of the money spent on that advertising campaign not to mention to the loss of good will.
Getting back to the CEO. The CEO has to be 100% committed to training. My CEO at the former Bower Savings Bank was a stickler for training. He said everyone went to training, and so everyone did. No manager would dare tell an employee she couldn’t attend training. Managers who attended the management development course I taught began to speak a common vocabulary. If a team was trying to solve a problem, the manager could ask “where are you in the process?” If they were still “gathering facts” he knew they were at the beginning of the process. Maybe it was time to intervene and learn why they weren’t making more progress.
Tellers and CSRs – the front-line warriors – need technical training, for sure. But how much time and money does your bank devote to training them in how to talk to a customer? Do you do role-plays to help them with the common questions/problems that arise? Do they receive sales training so they know the questions to ask that might get the customer to buy another service? Well, you say, they should be getting this training on the floor from their supervisors, not in the classroom. But how good are these supervisors at training tellers or CSRs? Have they been trained themselves?
There are so many situations where service can fall between the cracks. Is the representative at the information desk trained to find a replacement while she is away for a few minutes? No? There goes another customer who doesn’t want to wait. (I know. I’ve been there). Is the guard at the door trained to direct customers to the right people or does he curtly wave them over to wait at the end of the line at the Information Desk when he could have sent them to the platform person who opens accounts?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions about training, then money is walking out the door as you read this post. Until you can demonstrate a real difference between your bank and the one across the street, then it will be well-trained employees who give you the competitive edge.
--- Jeannette Paladino, Writer-in-Chief, Write Speak Sell, http://writespeaksell.com, and former SVP, marketing director, the Bowery Savings Bank
Community Bank Consulting, Inc.