Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Fiserv Premier Banks Tap Quest Analytics to Energize Bank Sales and Customer Relationship Management

Community Banks across the country are taking notice of bank sales software tools and sales training solutions from Quest Analytics. In 2012, the number of Fiserv Premier customers tapping Quest Analytics to enhance their customer relationship management and bank sales capabilities increased by 300 percent. Karl Keller, President of Quest Analytics, said “We have such a strong user base of Fiserv Premier clients who embrace our solutions. Our bank sales and sales training solutions are the perfect complement for banks using Fiserv Premier as demonstrated by our continually growing list of customers. “

Quest Analytics’ products include IQLeads, IQProspects, and Teller Referral Assistant and all are designed specifically for community banks to help them improve sales by better understanding and serving the needs of their customers. Quest Analytics’ solutions work with any core banking solution. However, the company’s growing success complementing Fiserv Premier over the past several years is testament to the market leading sales solutions.

“This is so much more than software,” said Keller. “This is a complete sales solution that will transform your community bank. The combination of our bank sales software tools and bank sales training solutions provide Fiserv Premier customers with an industry-proven, complete solution.” According to recent studies, over half of customer relationship management and sales implementations by banks fail. The number one reason why is resistance to change at all levels of the bank.

Quest Analytics understands community banks and invests time in reviewing business processes and training and getting buy-in from staff across the bank before implementation of the tools. Champions and experts are developed across the organization as the key to the bank’s success.

In just under a year, Quest has added over a dozen new Fiserv Premier customers to its customer base. Keller said, “This is testament to the quality of our solution and the results our customers are experiencing affirms this every day.”

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Building a Community Bank or Credit Union Sales & Service Culture

More and more community banks and credit unions are seeking to build a stronger sales and service culture inside their organizations. This need is driven by increased competition, fewer walk-ins, the commoditization of products and services, and the fact that other financial service organizations can now offer products and services that were once the sole province of banks.

  • What do you want your optimal sales and service culture to look like when your culture change is complete?
  • Who can make the transition?
  • What resources will it take?
  • What will the challenges be?
  • What if the existing associates of the organization don't want to change?
  • How can we track our progress to see that it is really working?
  • Do your associates have the skills, abilities and attitude to make it happen?

Although the specific challenges of building a sales culture inside are different at every organization we work with, there are some things that we know for certain:

  1. The culture won't change on its own.
  2. The culture won't change without someone in management driving that change.
  3. The culture won't change without setting simple, basic expectations.
  4. The culture won't change without showing associates how to do what they need to do to meet the expectations.
  5. The culture won't change without training on the necessary skills so as to provide everyone with the needed ability and confidence.
  6. The culture won't change without continual coaching.
  7. The culture won't change unless you work on it each day.
  8. The culture won't change unless there is an early emphasis on low-risk concepts like cross-selling, up-selling, calling customers/clients, and searching for new referrals.
  9. The culture won't change unless management holds everyone accountable.

We have addressed many of these issues in previous postings on this blog and in our SalesDrive newsletter. Check out some recent postings including Follow-up Sales Leads Like A Bloodhound and Energizing Teller Sales Referrals in Four Easy Steps. You can also check our web site for more information on sales training and coaching.

So you see, to get to where you want to go with your sales culture, you need to visualize the results and put into practice the components that will help you achieve success. Will it be easy to do? In most cases it will not. That is why you need to find experience you can draw from. You need to find a partner that has travelled this road before.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Bank Marketing Finds Success in Personal Relationships and Valued Customers

Within five miles of my house, there has to be at least two dozen sandwich shops. Yet, one of them stands above all others. It is a Subway® store. There are three others just like it within that five mile radius of my home. But, I always go to the one specific store and have for years.

Is the food any better or different than the others? Not really. I go because I feel valued there. They provide me a great customer experience. The team that works there welcomes every single customer as they come into the store no matter how busy they are. The smile from behind the counter and the “Welcome to Subway” resonate strongly with me and are the best marketing they could have. I even drive past the other restaurants when I am out just to go to this specific location. Funny how such little things can have a big impact on the customer experience.

Many community banks and credit unions also stand out to their customers or members in much the same way. A friendly and warm greeting as they enter the branch, no matter how busy your staff are, is a great start and great free bank marketing. Another great way is to ditch the hard sales or bank marketing pitch and spend the time getting to know your customer and their needs through a sales interview.

One of our customers calls this the ‘Wow!’ factor and aims for it at all of his branches for every interaction. Another simple way to wow your customer is to simply wish them a happy birthday. We know the birthday of nearly all of our customers now due to regulations so we can take advantage of that piece of information to demonstrate to our customers that we know and appreciate them. The results from this simple action produce tremendous good will from your customers and give you that edge over any of your competitors. It works so well, many bank marketing departments of our clients have started to have branches call customers to tell them happy birthday with similar results. Others do the same thing with customer anniversaries for accounts, such as a one-year or five-year anniversary for checking or money market accounts.

Recent media coverage has created an impression that banks are greedy and not concerned about their customers. Imagine receiving a call from your institution that your account was getting ready to enter dormancy and they wanted to remind you again so you could avoid the associated fees and keep that account active. Perhaps it is a call to offer a better mortgage or other loan rate to a customer that has high rates by today’s standards. These personal touches and a positive attitude let customers you know that you have a vested interest in them and value their business and trust in you. This is bank marketing based on creating the customer experience.

These types of customer interactions most often do not lead to an immediate increase in sales. However, they occasionally do, although that is not the end goal. I can point to many of our clients who offer stories of people who had been putting off a new account until a friendly call or interaction reminded them and made them confident that this was the institution with which they wanted to expand their relationship. People appreciate the personal attention and in this world of e-this and i-that, it is increasingly rare and really does make you stand out to your customers.

Institutions are finding success using leading bank CRM (customer relationship management) and bank marketing tools such as Quest's IQLeads, IQProspects, and Teller Referral Assistant. These systems help banks move beyond traditional MCIF capabilities and create a true customer experience by facilitating real-time interactions with customers.

This is the inherent value of these efforts, to improve the image of your institution in the mind of your customers or members which at some point down the line will produce new accounts or even referrals of friends and family. Sounds a lot like the end goal of bank marketing, right? While the larger banks are moving to more impersonal customer service models to improve efficiencies and reduce costs, successful community banks and credit unions know that their own customers and members appreciate the personal attention. You can still offer the convenience of self-service banking and complement it with your personal attention for in-branch transactions and even personal calls to alert customers to activity or even say happy birthday.

Define what you want your customer experience to be and train your staff to deliver on it. This is the new bank marketing in action at the front-line by creating a great customer experience that sets you apart. Set the service standard and be the branch office that people drive out of their way to get to because they feel appreciated. Earn their business and trust with every visit. This is your differentiator—it’s what sets you apart from the cold, impersonal style of the big banks.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Sales Interviews Build Community Banking and Credit Union Customer Relationships

Since we were children, we were taught by our parents to be presenters. We presented ourselves in the school play or maybe at a dance recital. If you were a Boy Scout, you presented yourself for a board of review to obtain the next rank. You also presented yourself at your first job interview. As we became bankers and are now in a position to influence sales decisions, our natural tendency is towards presenting or telling our customers about all of our great product features followed by trying to convince a prospect to make a sales decision.

We call this old school sales method “Convince and Close.” We give a short introduction and then jump straight into a presentation about all the great features of our banking products. Next we try to convince the prospect that our product will meet their needs without really knowing exactly what their needs are. Do you see the problem with this approach?

If this sounds like your community bank or credit union’s sales process, let me tell you that there is a better and more successful way that is easier and helps build a true relationship. This method is contrary to everything we have been taught to date. So to use it, you will have to practice and learn to hold back from your past tendencies, or you will quickly slip back to old habits.

With the “Collaboration Interview” sales method, we focus on the prospect interview instead of the product presentation. The spotlight is always on the prospect or customer rather than you and your bank or credit union’s products. This sales method begins with a short introduction. Next, you spend the majority of your time asking questions and listening—no telling, just asking and listening. Remember, you are no longer making a presentation. You need to interview the customer and ask a series of questions to understand exactly why this customer is seeking your assistance. What are they are looking for in a financial services product? Continue to ask the right questions until you understand their situation. During the detailed interview, it is highly likely that you will uncover information about their immediate needs, as well as additional information about their future needs.

You see, asking questions helps you build a relationship, credibility , and directs you to recommend products the prospect really needs. Quickly jumping into the new account opening process before conducting a proper interview does nothing to help you engage your new prospect and build a relationship.

After the interview, you will be in a great position to RECOMMEND a product that will match your customer or prospect’s needs exactly. The product feature presentation is very short. Instead of presenting, you are now simply recommending a solution that fits their needs like a glove. For example, if you have six different checking account options, you are just recommending one or possibly two at most because we know the other accounts are inappropriate or not the best option. You base the recommendation and presentation on what you learned about the customer because you now understand their situation and are able to make an educated recommendation. Completing the sale is now a simple task of gaining concurrence instead of trying to convince them that your product matches their need. Occasionally, you may need to follow up with a customer on your banking product recommendation.

With each new account sale, you have a choice. You can use that same old “Convince and Close” sales method which really makes the prospect uncomfortable because they know you are trying to sell them something. Or, you can try the “Collaboration Interview” method we just discussed, where you interview your prospect and make them feel like you are trying to customize a solution to HELP meet their individual need. It makes them feel that you know them and care about them.

What is great about being in your position is you get to try new things each day. Why not try this collaborative interview method and see how it works for you. Or, contact Quest Analytics today for informaiton on our sales training and coaching programs for community banks and credit unions.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

New Automation Tools Yield Quick Rewards for Community Banks and Credit Unions Looking to Cut Costs and Improve Efficiency

If it’s been a while since you looked at tools to help automate some of your back office processes, now is definitely the time. There are some great tools available to support automation and the results are better and faster than ever.

At Quest, we’ve been busy over the last year working with customers to automate a variety of back office processes. The end result is that it frees up IT or other bank staff of manual and time consuming back office duties to focus on more knowledge-based tasks. Most of our clients are surprised to see how much time is really spent over a year by their staff in performing routine back office processes that, in the end, should really be automated. In this age of narrowing margins and cost cutting, even small automation projects pay for themselves in time savings.

A recent article in McKinsey Quarterly noted that “IT-enabling operations encompasses both automating processes (preventing customers from using paper, digitizing work flows, and automating or supporting decision making) and using IT solutions to manage residual operations that must be carried out manually (for example, using software for resource planning). By taking full advantage of this approach, banks can often generate an improvement of more than 50 percent in productivity and customer service.” (McKinsey Article)

Back office processes tend to, over time, become very inefficient and prone to error. Many banks who take the time to analyze these processes learn that they no longer even need these processes or that they can and should be combined with other processes. The buzzword for this type of activity is business process reengineering, but it is really taking a close look at the purpose of each process and how effective it is at achieving its goal. McKinsey Quarterly researched bank back office processes and found that “more than 70 percent of the applications were paper based, and of those, 30 to 40 percent contained errors and required reworking; applications often got stuck in one data-verification step for more than five days before being processed; and because of a lack of any IT integration, branch and back-office staff had to enter data manually from several systems into the work flow.” (McKinsey Article) At Quest, we have had a similar set of findings in the customers we support. Even the simplest processs can be set up to increase the quality of data in your systems as discussed in a previous posting.

By combining a thorough analysis of back office processes with an agile approach to automation, banks are recognizing quick returns. The agile methodology is designed to break projects into small parts that can be completed in a short time period. This is the new approach for automation projects because of its results-oriented focus, rather than the historically long development timeframes most people associate with system development. This is what allows quick returns for a bank. However, the key to success lies in the completeness of the business process analysis and reengineering and the bank’s ability to look beyond the current process and focus on the overall goal of the process.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Community Bank and Credit Union Branch Performance Metrics Lead to Consistent Success

What are your goals for 2013? Most banks set them, but do you have a way to track your progress toward meeting those goals? Quest Analytics works with dozens of banks in analyzing and measuring progress toward goals in a wide variety of performance measurements. So, now that we are over one month into the new year, what are you tracking in 2013? Do these measurements support the larger goals of your bank, or in consultant-speak, are they aligned?

Progress towards your goals should be measured throughout the organization. So, for example, if a push is on for new customers, then your branches should be measured on new customers also. However, finding the right way to fine tune your performance goals to more manageable goals at the branch or even officer level can be tricky.

Most institutions still use a traditional set of performance measures including number of households or customers, number of accounts, average number of services per household or customer, total balances, average balances, fee revenue, profitability, etc. Not all core vendors make tracking and reporting on your metrics easy. Many institutions use data warehouses coupled with business intelligence or reporting tools, or even MCIF or other systems to help them track, report, and manage progress on their measures. What is the accuracy of these measurements? The truth is, in general, you are really looking at trends so the exact numbers are somewhat less important than the trend. However, incentive plans often are tied to these measures so the measurement itself is still important.

The most important thing about the measurement is that it must be made consistently over the measurement period so that trending can be monitored. This is the only way that trends can be meaningful. You must have a baseline or starting value for each performance measure to compare progress against. This means you should have setup and tested your reports and measuring processes prior to the start of your measurement period. If you have not, though, you are not alone. It is not unusual to see institutions continuing to adjust what they measure and their target goals throughout a year or other measurement period. This makes it very difficult to see progress, but is often caused by changing bank priorities or changes in executive leadership.

What is important is an enterprise-wide understanding of the overall goals and how the goals of each branch, sales team, and individual employee contribute to meeting them. This is the aligning of goals throughout your organization. For example, say your bank had a goal to increase total loan balance by a certain percentage. Then, each branch should have goals for increasing their loan percentages as well. In addition, loan officers should also have goals to increase loan balances across all of their relationships and other staff should have goals for making loan referrals. It is here where expectations for performance levels are set. Employees should be rewarded for performing beyond expectations, not for meeting them.

This scenario is only possible when the entire organization has the same vision and is directed by strong leadership from the top down. There is great power in having everyone understand their own personal role in helping the organization meet its goals by meeting their own goals. Many employees believe their goals are haphazard and, as such, they do not feel driven to meet those goals because they can’t see the larger connection or understand the reasoning behind them. By ensuring that everyone understands their role in the larger program, they feel part of the organization’s mission for the year.

The second part is that the goals must be easy to understand and each individual should be able to understand the calculations used for measurement. The goals must also be reasonable since they set a bar for the expected level of performance. If employees believe that a goal in unachievable, they may not even attempt to reach it, thus defeating the purpose.

Banks and credit unions should always include measures that consider customer acquisition, relationship expansion or cross-sell, and retention. Branches, officers and other employees all have a role in helping a bank meet goals in these areas. For acquisition, consider the number of new customers or new accounts at a branch perhaps even broken out by type (e.g., checking, line of credit, loan, etc.). When measuring relationship expansion, many banks will compute an average number of services per customer or household while others simply use the number of new products sold to existing customers. Retention can be measured by looking at the number of customers who close their last active account, or the number of transactional accounts closed so that loans and time deposits are not included. There are many ways to measure, but the key is to make sure everyone is focused on gaining new customers and retaining and expanding relationships with existing customers. Examples include increasing teller referrals and actively pursuing all sales leads.

Many organizations know exactly what they need or want to measure, but struggle with how measure or report on those items. Quest Analytics’ team has over fifteen years of experience working with banks and credit unions in this area. Our consultants have created automated reporting solutions for dozens of clients using multiple databases and reporting systems. We have also helped many of our clients define the types of items to measure as well. Contact us if we can help you establish or refine a key performance indicator solution for your institution.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Community Banks and Credit Unions Find Positive Attitude Leads to Relationship Building Success and Increased Sales

All the negative news about the economy and daily stress of life can make us feel down in the dumps about work and the regular banking day-to-day grind. It would be nice if the daily news reports on the economy were more positive but they are not. If we believe everything we read, the sky must be falling and we should prepare for even tougher times ahead.

So, how does all this negativity affect your community bank or credit union branch network? How would you rate the sales and service attitude in your branch locations this month--extremely positive, neither positive or negative, or down right BLAH?

If you rated your community bank or credit union's branch network sales and customer service attitude anything other than extremely positive, it is more than likely time for a tune-up. A positive sales and service attitude presented by your associates towards your customers directly impacts sales growth success.

Here are the top five things you can do to help improve sales and service attitude in your branch and get people moving in the right direction as identified from our Sales and Service Training Program:

  1. Good Morning Kick-Start. Starting each day at a branch or contact center with a quick five-minute kick-start meeting helps to gather the troops and set a positive attitude for the day. Remember, each person may be coming to work with a different set of problems on his or her mind. Perhaps someone had a problem getting the kids off to school this morning, or perhaps someone else had a car that would not start? You may or may not be aware of the daily issues facing your staff so the morning kick-start meeting is a great time to focus your team for the day and let everyone get on their “game face” before starting the day. Let everyone know why they are working today -- to HELP and care for the customers. That’s right, not to push products or to force customers to take that electronic banking option. Instead, we want to concentrate on actually HELPING our customers with whatever financial needs they may have. Remind everyone that by helping our customers, we are deepening the relationship which will naturally lead to more sales success and happier customers.
  2. Use More Positive Praise. Look for every opportunity to provide positive praise to your branch associates. Each day, use one associate as an example and tell everyone about what made their positive performance special for the customer. Never forget the power of positive praise for a job well done.
  3. Display a Positive Attitude Yourself. If you are a manager and are looking for better attitude from of your associates, remember a positive attitude starts with you. People learn from great mentors. Be assured that if you are a “crab,” your associates will pick up on this and it will affect their performance for the day. You must always lead by example.
  4. Don’t Forget to Smile. Sure it sounds crazy, but smiling sets the tone for everything. Whether you are face-to-face with a customer or talking with them on the phone — smile. Think you can’t hear a smile on the phone? Think again. Try putting up a smiley post-it note on the frame of your monitor or on the base of your phone. Place a small mirror somewhere around your work area. Are you smiling or frowning? Keep reminding yourself to smile for 20 days and it will quickly become a habit. You would never believe this but I went to a bank last year that was paying each customer a five dollar bill if they could catch the teller not smiling during the transaction. Whose brilliant idea was this I thought to myself? What benefit is there in making your customer responsible for employee attitude? Please, don’t make the customer responsible for your attitude. Instead, show the customer your positive attitude by HELPING them and proactively responding to their needs.
  5. Extreme Kidding Around. How many times have you seen a mom in the teller line towing along two young ones. If you haven’t noticed, kids have no patience for waiting. Children expect things to happen instantly. Why not use this opportunity to build deeper relationships with the customer instead of hiding or staring at the parent trying to manage the child meltdown? Start by showing interest in ALL children that visit your branch. Compliment them on how big they are getting, how cute they are, etc. Forget about lollipops and other candy, and give them a real banking experience instead. What kid does not want to see some money? Show them a $100 bill. WOW!! Show them where the vault is located. Set aside one safe deposit box that is filled with plastic coins or some other non-tooth decaying treat. Even better, have some collectable kid coins made with your bank logo on it. Each time they come in, give them another coin for their collection. Does this take a few minutes of your time? Sure it does, but it shows you care and it can also be fun which helps your attitude and those around you. More importantly you just totally impressed mom and she is going to tell five other moms about her banking experience the next time she gets together with friends.
Why is a positive sales and service attitude so important? It is important because your customer has a choice. They can continue to visit the same old bank or credit union or they may choose to walk across the street to a competitor. Given our economy and the competition for new deposit dollars, there is no room for a bad customer experience. Every customer touch must be executed with a total customer caring attitude, from the New Account Opening to listening to customer cues to generate product referrals.

Can you force someone to have a positive customer caring attitude? No, you can’t. But you can create a work environment that makes it difficult to be a “crab.” A positive attitude is contagious. Use your influence to spread a bit of the good stuff this week and make a difference.