By J. Keith Hughey, Senior Consultant
As we near the end of another year of continued uncertainty regarding interest rates, sluggish loan activity, regulatory action and competition from non-traditional financial service providers, many financial institutions continue searching for ways to generate revenue to maintain stability and create growth opportunities for next year.
But before you get too far down the path looking for new prospects and improved profitability strategies, don’t overlook the opportunities that exist within your organization to capture a greater share of wallet from your current account holders.
Shore up long-term loyalty
Oftentimes when I am approached by an organization looking for advice on how to increase business, the conversation begins with, “How do we attract new account holders?" And while there are many possible directions the conversation could take in addressing this dilemma, I am always interested to know if the organization is aware of how many products current account holders use. A study by Forrester Research found that, on average, adults use 8.2 financial products, but generally have no more than two or three at any one financial institution.
Increasing the number of products and services used by your account holders can have a major impact on their long-term loyalty to your financial institution. According to industry findings, on average an account holder who has one product with a financial institution will stick with that institution for about 18 months. Increase product usage to three or more products and loyalty to the institution increases to nearly seven years.
Cross-selling products is key
Keeping your finger on the pulse of what attracts account holders’ attention in this ever-changing digital world can be challenging. But you can establish yourself as your account holders’ primary financial institution and increase your overall share of wallet by determining which products and services they need – including checking and savings accounts, mortgage and personal loans, credit/debit cards, online and mobile banking apps.
Following are strategies to help you achieve these goals:
1. Simplify your product offerings
Beware the traditional belief that having more is always better. Too many product choices can be confusing to account holders and difficult for employees to explain. Streamline what you offer, based on good information of what your account holders want and need. And keep in mind, as consumer demand for more sophisticated products and services increases, you may be required to look outside of the realm of traditional products that you have relied on in the past.
2. Focus training on technical and soft skills
I often find that talking about developing a sales and service culture sends chills up the spine of institutional management. For many employees the very mention of cross-selling or increasing product sales translates into code words for using a high-pressure approach to get more business. Instead, I encourage clients to equip their account holder-facing staff with the product knowledge and soft skills they need to consult with account holders, identify what is needed to fill their long-term financial goals and demonstrate that your organization has their best interest in mind with the products and services you provide.
And remember, quality training is not simply showing employees how to do a job, but helping them to acquire the necessary knowledge required to perform their duties accurately, through a training format that complements their unique learning styles – whether it is web-based, classroom, homework or role-play.
3. Mine your data for treasures
When a consumer opens an account or applies for a mortgage or personal loan, employees have an opportunity to gather data that represents real value to the financial institution. This information can be mined to determine what products and services account holder need based on their circumstances. If they are buying a home, do they need a mortgage loan? If they open an account for a child or teenager, might they also be in the market for a car loan or financial assistance for college? By getting to know your account holder at this level, you can increase their loyalty and capture additional share of wallet for the financial institution.
4. Create and maintain a supportive culture
For any sales and service strategy to be successful, it is critical for customer service and operations to be coordinated and on the same page. At John M. Floyd & Associates we routinely work with clients to make sure they have procedures in place to simplify their processes, such as streamlining account openings and utilizing technology to share account holder data across departments so it only needs to be input once.
Excellence stands out, even in a busy world
Remember, if you can provide account holder the ability to open an account or get a loan quicker and easier than an institution down the street – while providing products and services that meet their on-going financial needs – they will most likely check with you the next time they need financial products and services, instead of spreading their business across multiple financial institutions.