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.

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