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The Missing Link For Financial Institutions

Over the past several years, financial institutions have come to recognize the importance of incorporating a variety of channels when communicating with their account holders. Direct mail, email and mass media all go hand-in-hand when conducting promotional campaigns. In order for account holders to see and hear the same messages, financial institutions must have all communications channels pull in the same direction to make marketing campaigns as effective as possible.

However, there is a missing link in this exercise. And, for marketers, it is sitting right in front of them – retail staff. All too often, campaigns are brainstormed, devised and implemented without bringing tellers, platform staff and contact center employees into the mix. This oversight, or challenge, unfortunately can make the best of marketing initiatives fall short of their potential.

While the numbers are declining, better than two-thirds of bank and credit union account holders continue to visit a branch and more than a quarter of them continue to pick up the phone and call their financial institution in order to speak with someone about their finances. This indicates that branch sales can and will remain critically important to retail banking. Although more origination volume is shifting online, 71 percent of consumers still say they prefer to open an account in the branch.1

Across retail banking is a vast surplus of branch sales capacity; however, it is less common that a retail bank or credit union has developed a truly proactive sales outreach. Most branch and contact center teams are still stuck in a reactive, order-taking mode that relies on advertising and promotion to drive sales. But, marketers are forgetting something critical: More than four out of ten consumers say they open an account after talking to a staff member, which means consumers want advice and consultation from branch staff to help them make a decision.2

While marketers are building promotional campaigns with advertising, direct mail and email, do not forget about bringing the retail staff into the mix. To support promotional campaigns, make sure branch staff is trained in needs-based selling and consultation. Remember, this endeavor is a journey and not a destination. Give branches realistic metrics to achieve in support of promotional campaigns, and continually analyze and adjust metrics based on the results. Always measure staff goals for each campaign and reward those branches that meet and exceed them. Finally, make sure to regularly share best practices among branches so that the weaker performers can strengthen their skills in time for the next promotion.

Sources:
1. Novantas. Transforming Retail Sales Force Economics (2012).
2. Gallup. US Retail Banking Survey (2013).

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Harland Clarke Corp. is a leading provider of best-in-class integrated payment solutions and marketing services, serving multiple industries including financial services, retail, healthcare, insurance, and telecommunications.

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