“How we sell” to our clients is more important to them than the quality of our products branding, perception of the brand, and the quality of service. Based on the Corporate Executive Board, 53 percent of a client’s loyalty to a company is determined by their satisfaction with the selling process. This is a crucial figure when we think about the bank’s brand into actions to differentiate ourselves, offer the same experience to our customers, increase profit through our sales processes as well as increase customer retention and sales.
A major bank attempted to lure wealthy clients to join the investment group of the bank. The bank’s previous efforts with price adjustments or new products, the differential service did not yield any results.
In search of a fresh approach to their customer experience, the bank created the concept of an “end to end” client experience that embodies their brand throughout the sales process, starting from the first interaction with a customer to the creation of alternate plans and finally account maintenance. This included the exact details of how customers would be treated and where they should be seated, and what would be given to read as they waited for a financial planner.
The bank quickly exceeded its goals of fully-fledged financial plans. The fees earned for a completed plan were more than four times the first estimates. In the span of six years in which portfolio size and fees grew at rates that were higher than those previously set.
The process of selling and the client experience have become the bank’s identity and an essential element of its distinctiveness.
Effectively translating the brand into action in the field is a process that requires four steps.
Step 1. Translate the brand’s attributes and preferences of clients into specific descriptions of the customer experience.
This involves deciding on the target clients and defining the objectives that need to be met, evaluating the preferences and values of clients from an outside perspective (meaning from the perspective of the client rather than from the bank’s), and establishing an approach to pursue customers you want to target based on the information gathered during research conducted “outside-in” research. For instance, if your clientele is looking for “trusted advisors,” describe (from the perspective of the customer) the experience and interactions which lead your clients to believe that they are working with a “trusted advisor.”
Second step: Determine the sales processes and other activities that are required to provide a positive customer experience.
Be sure to label and define each stage of the sales process for potential customers, starting from the beginning engagement to understanding and exploration, to the recommendation, and on to the next step. Each step should be followed by asking, “What messages are we giving, or what impressions are we creating, by this step and approach?” Make clear how the clients’ interactions should appear – when they occur, when they occur and how they occur, and who’s affected. Utilize storyboard methods to outline each phase of the processor every 15-minute chunk of time spent by the client working with an advisor. Make sure to focus on specific activities, prescribed times, the methods of implementation for each stage of the process, as well as accountable individuals who are involved in each step.
Step 3: Create and track metrics that demonstrate how closely advisors’ activities align with the established procedures and standards.
Evaluation of process execution is crucial. The most widely used client satisfaction measurement is a survey. At the same time, surveys give immediate comments from clients about their experiences; however, they are not able to evaluate advisors’ ability to execute the steps of the sales process that are branded or suggest the appropriate adjustments to align the sales process to the brand of the bank. It is essential to assess whether advisors have performed the correct brand-related activities in the right order and in the correct manner. It is possible to measure everything from simple things like tracking thank you notes that were sent, to more complicated ones, like the use of voice tones and physical behavior in a needs analysis. The independent evaluation of experience in sales as well as sentiments of trust, loyalty, and ease of use can verify the execution in the process of selling.
Step 4: Insist on a thorough inspection of the problem, correct it, and then teach.
To ensure the highest level of satisfaction, you must observe and modify the behavior of your employees and then quantify and correct those aspects that are not in line with expectations. Regular, thorough monitoring of advisors’ performance as well as comparison of performance against standard processes and procedures and coaching to decrease the variances are crucial.
It is equally important to practice. Watch advisors practice transition and opening statements as well as asking questions and dealing with objections. The advisor’s progress through the process should look competent, systematic, and efficient. The level of satisfaction with the sales process is mostly based on the activities and behavior.
The Bottom Line
Banks who are prepared and able to translate brand values into actions and drive the highest levels of customer satisfaction through the sales process in order to improve loyalty dramatically improve their business performance. The research conducted by the Bank Administration Institute (BAI) confirms that loyal customers contribute 24 percent more deposits as well as 14 percent higher consumer loans balances to their banks, as well as three times more inclined to suggest the bank’s services to future customers.
J.D. Power and Associates reached similar conclusions, stating that the majority of committed customers will return to their banks to obtain business services, whereas less than 22 percent of clients who are moderately committed will.
Keep in mind that the sales process of your bank and the customer experience is your branding. Make your brand visible and see your business grow.
The 4 Steps to Action – A Case of Success
Another bank illustrates the four-step procedure in a similar way to promote wealth consolidation.
The bank’s financial advisors of 1650 were distributed across three distinct areas of business within the wealth management company with no shared process or reason for doing so. In a competitive environment, there were thousands of independent advisors who were trying to pull investment funds from banks, established institutions, as well as brokerage firms.
Here’s how the bank has implemented the above four steps to make its brand more visible to actions and boost the results:
Step 1. Translate brand attributes as well as preferences of customers into detailed descriptions of the customer experience.
The bank selected wealthy clients who required assistance in dealing with financial problems as their ideal clients. The goal was to convince clients to join their money and bank accounts. Through its research, the bank found that its customers wanted an advisor who was familiar with them personally and that they were less concerned about price and products and much more on “belonging.” The bank also discovered that clients didn’t like being sold products and solutions that were cookie-cutter. The study also found that customers wouldn’t divulge every bit of information until they reached an appropriate level of comfort between their advisers.
Step 2. Define the steps for sales and other activities that are required for creating a satisfying customer experience.
The bank developed processes for sales and management to satisfy the needs discovered in the study. The new sales procedure advisors were initially directed to hold three meetings with potential clients. One of them was a “get to know you” meeting. In the next meeting, clients provided the financial information and had a discussion regarding goals, the current financial situation, and personal preferences. In the third session, advisors gave specific suggestions in light of the information presented in the previous meeting.
To facilitate the new procedure, The bank came up with an array of core competencies for advisors that are based on the clients’ needs and preferences. Advisors were given outlines and discussion points for each of the initial three meetings, as well as presentation aids to aid in the review and discussion about the proposed financial plan, as well as guidelines for how the meeting will be conducted and the location it should be to be held. Managers were provided with a set of quality standards for coaching.
Step 3: Set up and track metrics that demonstrate how well advisors’ work aligns with established processes and guidelines.
The bank redesigned its goal-setting as well as feedback systems to accommodate the changes in the sales process (three meetings prior to the selling process begins). The bank’s growth goals recognized the need to establish relationships in the initial three meetings. Tracking and measurement systems were set up to record the dates of meetings in what timeframes and the manner in which they occurred to determine if they were in line with the pattern or not. The bank also overhauled its compensation system in order to facilitate satisfaction of what clients desired and reward the commitment to customer satisfaction.
Step 4: Continuously examine, correct, and instruct.
Managers were instructed to guide advisors on the 90-day sales funnel for each client to focus on managing the relationships and the standard sales process. Managers were instructed on how to train and guide advisors to follow the process without “early jumping to conclusions.” Coaching was focused on behavior and processes first and business results second.
Prior to launch, 14 percent of customers wanted to consolidate. In the course of the six-month trial, 22 percent of customers consolidated, and the other 66 percent stated they were ready to consolidate. After the pilot was launched, the bank saw an increase of 20 percent in the number of assets under management. It also, in effect, “de-marketed” or referred customers who did not fit the model.
The bank’s success was due to:
It was able to clearly define its strategy, with specific goals for the market and a targeted group of customers.
It developed its strategy for translating brand attributes and preferences for clients into specific descriptions of the customer experience and defining the sales process and the activities required to build the perfect customer experience.
It established and tracked measures that showed how advisors’ work matched specified processes and guidelines.
Managers were attentive to inspecting the core reckoning process, as well as training advisors on the process that was prescribed.
In every bank, there are financial advisors who appear to “have a way” with clients, which leads to substantial growth in assets and greater satisfaction. They are able to intuitively or intelligently figure out their own methods for the four steps and then manage their own business – and that’s how they’ve become top performers. What’s the trick? Create the same relationship with many financial experts and create the brand of the bank rather than the person’s brand.
There’s good news! The four-step procedure is a good idea for individuals or team leaders consultants seeking to increase their client base and build client loyalty. It can also be used by businesses that employ all financial consultants.
The key is to start by looking at the “outside-in” – who do we want to draw, what are we able to do to help them, and what exactly do they require to know or learn to alter their current buying habits. Then, we can create a sales strategy based around the customer experience the customers want, not what the bank would like or what the individual producers think “might be cool to do.”