“Good beads don’t make noise”. Give your customers a good service and they will always be your advocate.
Dear Readers, last week, I looked at simple ways that Relationship Managers (RMs) can add value to their banks’ bottom line. The focus is to create additional value for the customer and the bank over the longer term. Long term relationships are now recognized to be one of the most important assets of an institution. It enables the company gain competitive advantage over other companies who perform the same functions, since many dissatisfied customers simply walk away. Banks are becoming more customer focused – gaining insight into customer needs and developing matching services to give them. Relationship banking therefore means going the extra mile for a customer, doing the work plus more to give customers more than they expect.
The benefits of Relationship Banking
There are several benefits a bank can obtain in good relationship banking:
- Increased sales
- Repeat business
- Higher income
- Re-activation of dormant accounts
- Customer advocacy
- Referred business by loyal customers
- Less customer stress and complaints
- Less customer turnover
- Enhanced reputation
Tit-Bits for Relationship Bankers – The Ghanaian Way (contd)
Let us continue with some more scenarios of Ghanaian origin that RMs can adopt to ensure patron more look for some basic relationship banking tips the Ghanaian way. Don’t forget to convert some service calls into sales opportunities.
The New addition to the Family
You have not seen Mrs. Mensah in a long while. You remember her being heavily pregnant about two months ago. She is one of your “old faithfuls”. However her account has been inactive of late, and unfortunately you have not called to check up on her. Oh dear! By sheer luck, she appears in the banking hall that same day with a baby behind her back! Wow. You felt bad for not checking up on her. What do you do? Just offer a genuine surprise, admire the baby and ask for the name and gender while offering genuine good wishes. In our parts of the world a naming ceremony, or “outdooring” is a big thing. Some persons have even made it a money making affair and as a banker, why don’t you ask of the date and attend?
I attended one with an office colleague and guess what, my customer introduced me to all her guests, and with pride, I took advantage of it and mingled with other guests, to sell my bank products and services. Fortunately I had a few brochures with me for those who wanted it….You never know. Sell your bank’s Kiddy products and bingo, an investment comes along with it. If your bank has suffered some bad-mouthing in social media, this is the time to rectify and allay people’s fears. In addition, this is the time to win some of the unbanked population over to your side. Some are genuinely shy of approaching the high rise glass buildings. Give your card or brochure and let them visit you for discussion or make more enquiries to be convinced.
Cross-selling: Adding Value to the Banks’ Bottom line
As Front liners, you should pick up certain tips during conversations with customers and identify those prospects for marketing your banks’ products. Here are a few tit bits you can relate with:
- Front liners meet most customers and their agents → Good referrals for cross-selling.
- As a Front liners, you should learn the culture and mannerisms of customers → Adapt to them more easily and assist Managers on best approach to get the best out of customers (Both liability and asset based products and services).
- As a Front liners, you have information about the changes in businesses, residences, occupations, new family members, agents and associates of customers → You are therefore a CUSTODIAN of a wealth of knowledge in assisting to update Bank KYC and Risk Grading.
- Cross sell when you notice the following
- Change of customer’s residence: → Mortgage or Home improvement loans
- Child education upgrade → Education Loans, Student loans,
- Change of Job/Promotion → Executive loans, Auto loans, Salary Loans, Investments.
- Money transfer beneficiaries → new accounts in the bank. There will be no need for them to come into the bank to queue. Their accounts can be credited with the subsequent money transfers.
- Customers’ Travels → Sell Travel Insurance, Safe Deposit, Additional monitoring of Account, placing alert messages and temporary freeze if
- Bereavement → Funeral loans, Customer Visits and Investment of Donations received.
- Retirement → Sale of Executive banking & Investment products
- Assisting to revive dormant accounts by: Making enquiries from agents of
customers and third parties.
As an RM, how can you assist the Loan Recovery Officer? Don’t you know that the customer has relocated? Don’t keep it to yourself. Give the information on the new residence of customers, family members, new stations in life, new jobs, close friends and associates and the bank loan will be repaid. You are expected to be a friend to the customer, only on a professional level, and not a “for better, for worse” relationship when a customer willfully defaults. After all, you have knowledge of customers’ aliases and pseudo-names, knowledge of new partners of the customers and so on. Help the bank’s bottom line.
Building a Relationship with SMEs
It is not just the value you want add, it is aligning with the business owner’s value drivers. Often times, bankers are accused of abandoning customers after they have been convinced to open an account. They continue to move on with their “conquests”, looking for more accounts, forgetting the rest. Many SMEs in our parts of the world do not have proper long term strategic goals. Some business owners just enjoy carrying the daily cash proceeds to their homes and counting the cash. Let us see how Relationship Managers can get closer to their customers in a more structured way:
Why don’t you develop an approach to find out about their three to five year goals? Often times they have difficulty answering questions about these goals. Don’t forget the distinction between a vision and a plan. I hope that some of the small business owners could be coaxed into sharing their vision with you, if you approach it intelligently. Let us try:
- Spend time learning first about the history of the business and its principals.
- Delve into how the business works today.
- Develop an understanding of their current business and financial objectives.
- Frame the conversation about the future like this, using your own words of course: “Imagine that we’re having this conversation in 3 or 5 or 10 years. I’m going to ask you a series of questions about your company. It will be nice if our bank can be a partner in your growth.“
Use the list of questions below to get the conversation started. Listen. Take notes. Ask follow-up questions sparingly. This is about them, not you. Pay attention.
- Avoid playing banker at this point. Just listen and learn.
- Go for as long as the client allows. You see some areas that would be worth pursuing in a follow-up conversation. It might involve introducing the business owner to someone from your Investment banking Wing or Business Advisory specialists. It could even lead to facilitating an application for some of the donor-funded projects from the Western countries.
- Decide on what your next steps are. If there are others in the bank you should consult, bring them up and if possible pay another visit with them to the customer. You never know, you win even win the bigger operations account being held at a competitor bank.
Sharing The Customer’s Vision- The Visioning Exercise
In the February 2011 issue of INC. magazine, Ari Weinzweig, the co-founder and CEO of Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, shared some possible questions for the visioning exercise with customers:
- How big will your business be?
- How will you measure your success?
- What will your most important products/ services be?
- What will make you unique?
- Who are your customers? How do you find them?
- If your customers were asked to list three noteworthy things about your business, what would they say?
- What kind of managers will you have in place?
- What do you do everyday? How much do you work?
- How will your company be perceived in the community?
- What will your suppliers say about you?
- How would your competitors describe you?
Some people may think this is an intrusive exercise, but know that marketing or selling has always been intrusive! You have a target, don’t you? It is not cast in stone. Know your community and its culture and adopt a customized way of approaching each potential or existing customer. Please get on with it and I bet you, your customer will be awed by your visit. We shall continue next week.
TO BE CONTINUED
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alberta Quarcoopome is a Fellow of the Institute of Bankers, and CEO of ALKAN Business Consult Ltd. She is the Author of two books: “The 21st Century Bank Teller: A Strategic Partner” and “My Front Desk Experience: A Young Banker’s Story”. She uses her experience and practical case studies, training young bankers in operational risk management, sales, customer service, banking operations and fraud.