It's hard to understate the importance of a first impression. First impressions for your institution are usually created online or through word-of-mouth, and when someone finally walks into a branch, they do so with some expectations.
Your frontline staff is tasked with meeting those expectations and reassuring the consumer that they are in excellent hands.
That's a lot of pressure.
How can you ensure this first interaction goes smoothly? Avoid these frontline conversation killers.
Being an Order Taker
Have you ever been to a diner and they have a novel for a menu? No matter how obscure the dish, sure enough, it's on there.
How easy is it to pick your order?
According to research, it's going to be much harder to decide in this scenario than it would be if the menu featured only a few items. In fact, an abundance of options actually pushes them into decisions that are against their own best interest.
With banking products, consumers have less frame of reference. You know if you like chicken-fried steak more than a BLT, but how do you know if you like Super Saver Checking more than Ultimate Checking? By the third option, your prospect is already confused and frustrated.
This approach turns your frontline staff into an order taker. An order taker sells the prospective client what they ask for without any regard to their other needs, or what might deliver the most value. The order taker doesn’t make any attempts to increase existing sales or enhance the existing order with other products unless the prospective client specifically asks for it.
One Way Conversation
Let’s head to the dictionary for this section.
A conversation is an exchange of sentiments or ideas. Exchange means two-way and if you just list off your products then you’re creating a monologue. You'll never show the consumer they’re important because you’re not asking questions.
Consumers end up just picking an option to speed through the interaction which results in a poor product fit and experience. Aside from the customer being more likely to churn, consumers who are overwhelmed are more laborious to serve because they have more follow-up questions (and potential complaints) regarding their product. All of which costs you money.
Using Complicated Language
Before you dismiss your current pitch as simple, consider some of these statistics from a recent survey conducted by GOBankingRates:
- Only 55% of those surveyed knew the difference between a checking and savings account.
- Only 13% knew what APY stood for and what it meant.
If you jump into talk about checking accounts or what a great APY you offer, you're leaving 45% of consumers confused. At worst, 73% have no clue what you're talking about.
Aside from being confusing, this approach doesn't help consumers appreciate what makes your institution and your products different. It makes it harder for consumers to feel the tangible benefits of doing business with you over their last institution. We know this is a common problem as research has shown that 44% of people believe all banks are the same.
Asking the Wrong Questions
"So, what are you looking for in an account?"
This might seem like a great way to find out exactly what the consumer wants... only one problem. They don't know what they want! Recall the that stats from above? Most consumers just know that they need an account. Others will come with a list of features they don't want (Fees being #1).
You are the expert, so give consumers a list of features to react to.
"Which matters more to you, high interest or cash back?"
Binary or multiple choice questions are always the easiest to answer, so building your conversation in the fashion allows consumers to feel like they are driving the process to a product that feels right to them. Clearer answers mean an obvious next step for the frontline staff member.
Asking Close Ended Qualifying Questions
Do you use a debit card?
Do you use eStatements?
Do you use online banking?
Do you have direct deposit?
Are you tired of reading this list?
Aside from it sounding like a dull game of 20 questions, this approach has three major flaws.
- You don't learn what actually motivates the consumer.
- They’re impersonal.
- You create roadblocks for yourself the moment you hear "No" to one of those questions.
Rewards serve as a motivation to change behavior. So, a customer might not currently accept eStatements, but they would for a higher interest rate. Another reason to lead with benefits is that it delays hearing "No" from a consumer. Rarely do people enjoy feeling sold and objection handling changes the tone of the conversation.
It turns out that we buy different things with different parts of our brains. For simple sales, we use the left, logic driven, hemisphere. For more complicated decisions, we use the right, emotionally driven, hemisphere.
The most effective approach combines both facts and emotion. So, your frontline conversations should be filled with enthusiasm. Describing you products as ordinary or standard (or anything shy of the best thing since sliced bread) will leave the customer unconvinced feeling lackluster about your institution.
Being enthusiastic honors the fact that consumers have a choice of institutions, but they have chosen to explore doing business with you. If you need advice on how to do this, check out this post on how to keep your team motivated.