Winning People Over

By Scott Friesen

What is it like to become a new customer or member at a financial institution? One of the key elements of our Haberfeld Customer Acquisition and Growth™ strategy is to measure just that through our mystery shopper program. In this past year, I had the opportunity to walk into lobbies at over 100 community banks and credit unions from coast to coast posing as a potential customer. Though these branches were in radically diverse locations – from small towns like Fancy Farm, KY, to big cities like San Francisco, CA – patterns emerged.

There were observable behaviors that created very positive reactions in the newcomer (and others that created negative reactions). What are those positive behaviors? What leaves such a positive impression on a potential new customer that they anticipate loving the bank and will want to send their friends?

Simply put, it’s being a delightful banker. Again and again, I would walk out of a financial institution that made a great impression on me and said to myself, “They were delightful.” It was much more than being friendly. Most bank employees were friendly, of course. But when I was delighted, I felt the employee lifted me with the quality of their service and elicited something joyful from within me.

That may sound like a very fuzzy target that is unmeasurable, unteachable and impossible for employees who do not possess certain personality types. However, it is measurable, teachable and possible for all in harmony with our wide-ranging personalities. In each of these delightful experiences, employees consistently practiced specific behaviors.

(Eliciting joy) may sound like a very fuzzy target that is unmeasurable, unteachable, and impossible for employees that do not possess certain personality types. However, it is measurable, teachable and possible for all in harmony with our wide-ranging personalities.

They show enthusiasm for me and my life. When I ask about accounts, the first words out of their mouth is not merely “okay,” but something more energetic like, “Awesome! I’m so glad you came!” This enthusiasm for me carries into the way they ask me questions completely unrelated to banking. Questions like “Do you have kids?” “What are their ages?” “How was your weekend?” make me feel like I’m more than just a new account. They also show this enthusiasm by practicing extraordinary customer service skills including introducing themselves, asking for my name, and using it in our conversation.

They show enthusiasm for the financial institution’s people and products. They often communicate this through a quick personal endorsement. I hear things like, “I use bill pay and I really love it! It’s so convenient!” or “Jeff is our mortgage lending specialist. He’s great. You’ll really like him!” Even telling me that the crock pot thank-you gift is cool, and that they served cheese dip from one, tells me a financial institution is full of great things. That expression of enthusiasm is a huge clue as to what I can expect if I decide to bank there. The branches that delighted me led me to believe I would actually enjoy banking at their branch.

They clearly recommend one account and asked me to open it. When employees do this, they display the knowledge and skill to guide me efficiently. A skillful use of a well-designed brochure in a sales presentation takes three to four minutes and feels helpful, not canned. Less skilled presentations are frustrating because they can take 15 to 20 minutes and sometimes do not even result in a clear recommendation or a request for me to open the account. I always appreciate the guidance of a skillful sales presentation. I feel served and wanted, not pushed.

They are waiting for me. This is a part of the overall preparation of the bank including having a beautiful facility, attractive marketing, thank-you gift displays and themes that create sales opportunities. It also includes employees having clutter-free work areas, checking account brochures easily at hand, and knowing how to use the brochure to determine my needs and enthusiastically make recommendations. When this happens, I feel like my needs have been anticipated and the people at the financial institution are not just ready for me, they are waiting for me.

They overwhelm me by doing many things well. It is really not one or two impressive behaviors that make the difference, but all the little things working together. When the employee does many things well, the result creates an extraordinary experience beyond what I experience at most businesses. When all these things happen, I very feel welcomed, reassured and significant.

This is what it takes to provide such a positive impression on a potential customer or member that they anticipate they will love the bank and will want to send their friends. Here at Haberfeld, we love to help make this a reality.

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