“Stop selling. Start helping” – Zig Ziglar
Dear customers, welcome once again to the risk watch. Banks continue to face a dilemma when opening accounts for various personalities.
The semi or stark illiterates
Although it is normal to assume that credit worthy and high net worth customers dress in fine clothes, it is however worthy to note that in practice, the dressing of customers does not always have a direct relationship with their account position. The universal banking concept has made banks embark on a “no-holds back” selling spree to every Tom, Dick and Harry. My experience with semi-literates or stark illiterates has mostly been an enjoyable experience. Let me tell you of my observations, and please note, that they are indeed my personal opinions. You need to relate with such persons before you can appreciate what I am talking about. Here are some of my personal observations:
- It is not easy to convince them to open bank accounts. Since they are usually not very literate, they harbour serious suspicions of bank staff. They think bankers add “zeros’ to their withdrawals and siphon their funds gradually. Oh my God!
- They are usually savings account holders with idle funds who only come to withdraw and lodge funds.
- Although hard to get, illiterate customers are quite loyal and hardly switch banks. To them, switching banks is like divorce. The banking relationship is taken a step ahead and becomes a personal thing!
- They hardly request for credit facilities and keep their funds mostly for safe keeping. Their funds are usually stable and a cheap source of deposits to the Bank.
- They may be employees of big corporate bodies who are granted short breaks for banking transactions and are always in a hurry.
- They could also be petty traders or owners of SMEs whose businesses are nearby and do not have agents to conduct their banking transactions for them. Bad customer service can lead them into the hands of the non-bank financial services and other community banks or the nearest bank.
- Some of them manage to “sign” application forms for various e-banking products and get logged on, even though they may not understand the brochure/guide handed over to them.
- Some of them think they have the right to hand over their ATM cards and e-banking passwords to their friends, spouses and children to perform banking transactions on their behalf. There are regular reports of misunderstandings between spouses and children about wrongful withdrawals. Some even dare to report their cases to the bank!
If you happen to open accounts for this category of persons, please don’t force bundled products on them. Let them take one at a time and gradually assimilate the banking technicalities. The danger is that they may subsequently report that they did not select the bundled product of their own free will. Their lawyers will be ready to “chop the bank’s money small”.
I remember the case of a middle aged man who was sold an ATM card which he accepted reluctantly. The Sales staff met his target alright, but what happened next. Three months later, he nearly fainted in the banking hall when he realized that his GHC5,000 had been reduced to GHC50. What happened? He placed the ATM card and pin-mailer in his car’s glove compartment and sent the car to the workshop for body works! Oh. Someone, perhaps a mechanic, was smart enough to activate the ATM and cleared the balance on a daily basis! Na who cause am? He was traumatized and despite the damage controls that the bank did, he was never satisfied with that bank.
The “One-Touch” Generation
Yes! Those are the ones to watch out for. They are always on the go. Their main characteristic is “instant”. They are always in a hurry to “touch and go” by the click of a button on their smart phones and computers. If your transactions are not up to the global standards that go with e-banking, then you might as well forget it. They are made up of:
- Students in second cycle and tertiary institutions
- Young workers in formal institutions
- Persons who may be disabled and may not be able to enter the banking halls which are not disability-friendly.
- Persons who have a tight schedule and hardly have time to attend to their banking needs during working hours.
- They may be older professionals like accountants, doctors, pharmacists, teachers, etc. they know their rights and expect the bankers to be on top of their act. They are very financially savvy and can easily take bankers on. Yes some of them have been in banking before or even teach banking and finance at the tertiary level education.
Hey, sell this group a bundled product, and make sure you the banker, also know how the products work! They are quick to measure your turn-around time, watch out for any errors which you may have committed and not informed them about, and your charges. Yes your charges. Don’t think because they are in a hurry, they don’t scrutinize the charges. They will always call or come into your banking hall to discuss the itemized charges that click on their SMS alerts! If they don’t have enough credit units on their phones, please call them back and explain everything to them, otherwise your bank’s reputation will be at stake in the social media. They can even take a picture of you secretly and add it to their complaint and post it to facebook, twitter, whats’up, and so on!.
The excitement of product bundling
Hey I am not here to dampen your spirit. Let us now look at getting the best of two worlds:
Relationship banking has become a popular topic in the last decade. In an effort to improve profitability and reduce expenses, the strategy of a deeper wallet share and stronger relationships is very laudable. It is not even easy to get a customer to enter the branches anymore. Looking for them is tough. Many younger customers enter the branch only for account opening, and that is all. The next time you see them is when they have a problem, like ATM card capture, collection of new cards, or loan request. Many banks therefore offer product bundling as an approach to relationship banking for years. It therefore comes as a way to reward consumers and create deeper and more profitable relationships.
For added value, sophisticated customer segmentation is key in handling individualized needs, and should be based on standard banking metrics. These usually include the customers’ tenure with the bank, number of accounts, balances of accounts and loans, frequency of interaction with the bank, brand loyalty, and benefits sought. Not forgetting the usual demographic variables (occupation, income, and family-status).
This unique and personal analysis of the consumer’s needs and the product offering is true relationship bundling. It would be nice if bankers can develop a mass customization of product offers based on each consumer’s unique needs, interest and background. To achieve this at a reasonable cost, banks must rely on enabling technology that is capable of analyzing each consumer’s background and interests and develop a proposed product bundle.
Finally to my dear front desk person or sales executive out there, next time you are selling a banking account, watch out (stop, look and listen) and make efforts to identify their needs as well, before asking them to “tick and sign”. Its not easy to sell, but sell well and enjoy the fruits of your selling by knowing your customer’s needs, wants and desires first. Such a person will forever remain you customer. There are so many genuine and hard working people out there looking up to make real friends with a bank. Trust is paramount.
I will leave you with one of my favourite quotes from Zig Ziglar: “You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want”.
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 Three books: “The 21st Century Bank Teller: A Strategic Partner” and “My Front Desk Experience: A Young Banker’s Story” and “The Modern Branch Manager’s Companion”. She uses her experience and practical case studies, training young bankers in operational risk management, sales, customer service, banking operations and fraud.