Trent Fleming, CEO, Trent Fleming Consulting
What I want to do is help you to change the way you approach business banking. For the better, and for the long run. Perhaps these thoughts will get you moving in that direction. As always, I’m available to assist should you have questions or need some outside guidance.
Summer is upon us, along with vacation schedules. As many of you know, I’ve been asking you to focus on improving your management of staffing levels. Vacation time is a great opportunity to observe which employees are doing well, and which are not. Evaluate the efforts of your staff across the bank when managers or other key employees are on vacation. Do errors increase? Are there compatibility issues that come to the fore? In addition, look for signs that the vacationing employees or managers have dangerously high concentrations of knowledge . . . inquire as to whether the remaining staff is reaching out to those employees for help during the day or in the evenings. One key to a high performing organization is a level of cross training that anticipates and overcomes temporary and permanent absences. Finally, use managerial absences to more fully evaluate staff that you have earmarked for promotions. Succession planning is important at all levels of the organization, not just Board and C-level. I’m eager to hear what your learn from your observations.
In conjunction with your state banking association, I am offering a two-part webinar on mobile banking that you will not want to miss!
September 13, 2013, 1:30-3:30 CT
Regulatory & Compliance Issues:
Managing the Risks
Mobile banking and related technologies including mobile capture and bill pay present extensions of existing technologies for regulatory and compliance purposes. When new delivery channels are introduced for existing capabilities, it is critical that internal controls, regulatory compliance, and bank polices and procedures are developed to manage any incremental risk that is introduced. This session will look at the underlying products and services, and discuss the additional controls and policies that are required to ensure that risk is effectively mitigated and managed. Participants will gain:
Perspective on new delivery channels
Insight into appropriate control structures
Ideas for managing and mitigating risk across both employee and
September 20, 2013, 1:30-3:30 CT
Developing a Mobile Strategy for Community Banks
Mobile Banking has quickly become an expected service offering for
bank customers. Consumer’s desire to do more on the mobile device, combined with extensive advertising at a national level, have driven awareness and rapid adoption.
In spite of this, there are banks who are yet to invest in this technology. Many who have deployed Mobile Banking have done little beyond offering the basic product. What is needed? A strategy. One that encompasses five pillars: technology
, operations, compliance, promotion, and innovation. This session will provide banks with the information and techniques necessary to select, implement, promote, and manage a broad Mobile Banking delivery channel, both now and in the future.
Key take-aways include:
Available delivery options
Compliance and security considerations
Promotion to build loyal users
Business banking opportunities
Managing a remote delivery channel well
Sign up here:
In my conversations with community banks, I’m surprised at how many still feel they are “too small” for a call center. On the contrary, smaller banks should be the first to move toward a centralized telephone point of contact for customers. Here are three reasons why.
1) Optimize Staffing
2) Improve Service Quality
3) Support Your Virtual Branch
Old habits die hard. Many community banks are clinging to the idea of a dedicated receptionist at each location, whose job it is to greet customers, answer the phone, and distribute the calls. As branch volume drops, it is likely that most of the people your receptionist greets are salespeople or other visitors. And those all important phone calls? Most businesses, including banks, have moved to phone systems that feature DID – each extension can be dialed directly from outside the bank. Thus, bank employees can provide customers with a number that rings on their desk, or even a cell phone number. The concept of a receptionist prevents you from providing excellent service (customers want to talk to someone with solutions, not a traffic cop), and artificially inflates salary costs. In an upcoming issue, we will discuss branches and branch staffing in detail, but here’s a glimpse: your branches will be staffed with associates who are cross trained on all products and services, and they will meet each customer or prospect at the door – not wait behind a desk or teller line.
The key to better service is addressing and resolving the customer’s issue, not passing them around the bank trying to find someone who can. Call center employees can be trained to handle a wide variety of customer inquiries, which improves service and reduces costs. Over time, you will gain a better understanding of why customers are calling, and be able to proactively address at least some of these issues. Much like the new branch associate mentioned earlier, these call center staff will be “super bankers” and will go a long way toward increasing customer satisfaction. They will also build credibility with customers, allowing them to influence customers toward self-service delivery channels.
Support Your Virtual Branch
National advertising has set the stage for 24 hour customer service. “Jake from State Farm” nattily dressed in khakis and red polo, is awake and ready to help at 3 a.m. Eventually, your customer base is going to expect that too. For now, expanding service hours to meet your customers’ expectations is important. Don’t panic – I didn’t say you needed 24×7 coverage yet, just that you need to think about it. The modern call center will support customer contact via phone, email, on-line chat, Twitter, and Facebook, to name a few. This is a far cry from simply deciding who answers the phone at the branch. It is important to start planning for this. In fact, recent studies indicate that chat from mobile devices will be a huge component of customer service and interaction in coming months.
Here’s the reality: you are promoting and encouraging the use of delivery channels that customers have access to at all hours. In order to ensure that customers embrace these technologies, you have to ensure that you can support them. Experience teaches us that a successful first use of any new technology is critical. The best “plan B” for a poor support experience is quick, responsive follow up when the customer reaches out for support. Expanded support hours is not just about supporting technology. It is about making your bank more accessible to busy customers at hours that are convenient to them. In the past, you may have opened your drive in early, or kept it open late – its the same idea. Convenience. If you are ever in doubt, remember that customers will opt for convenience every time.
Here are five things you can do now:
- Track the nature and volume of calls received, by location.
- Determine if your current phone system supports call center features including identification of the number being called, the number of the caller, and the ability to selectively route calls, and roll calls over if certain lines aren’t answered. The goal here is to get to an inbound caller to the right person the first time, and get their issue resolved quickly.
- Determine if your core vendor offers a “call center” inquiry screen. Such screens feature shortcuts to allow staff to quickly find information that is commonly requested by callers. It will serve as a precursor to more formal call center technology.
- Start the discussion in your bank about how you can improve service to those customers who choose to use voice communications to reach you.
- Consider supporting non-voice contacts, including email, chat, and Twitter
Your branch network can remain a strength for your organization, if you leverage it properly. When supported in conjunction with the electronic delivery channels your customers are demanding, it gives you a tremendous advantage over the “Internet Only” banks. If you don’t leverage your branch network, it becomes a liability that increases your costs and diminishes your value in the eyes of the customer. A well staffed call center is an important step toward providing the levels of support customers demand. If you’ve already taken this step, I commend you. If not, please do give it some consideration.
If you’d like to continue this conversation, visit my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/thetechnologyadvisor, or tweet me @techadvisor, and share your comments, success stories, or opposing viewpoints. I look forward to hearing from you!