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Building a Sales and Service Culture to Improve Performance

April 13, 2018 - 7:42am -- Tony

If you want to significantly improve performance at your bank or credit union, I would highly recommend focusing on your frontline team. Frontline employees are your most important asset, as they are the face of your organization and directly impact how your customers/members perceive you and ultimately choose to do business with you.     

Frontline employees play a critical role in the customer/member experience and you need to ensure that they have the vital resources and specialized training to maximize their individual and team performance.  Our comprehensive Service Culture Analysis™ employee surveys have revealed that the vast majority of frontline employees want to improve their sales and service skills. Frontline employees need to feel self-confident that they are empowered with the skills necessary to enhance the value they create for their customers/members.  

Providing sales and service training in terms of just having employees watch a webinar or sending them to a day-long seminar is tantamount to a waste of time and money if the organization does not have a structured sales and service culture in place. Building a successful sales and service culture needs to be a top priority if a financial institution wants to substantially improve its performance.

First, the leadership team needs to commit to a new way of thinking and behaving. It’s truly a change of culture throughout the entire organization. In fact, a large majority of our clients have everyone from the CEO to the custodian participate in our service programs. They understand that it has to start at the top and permeate down through every part of the organization for it to be effective and sustainable.

In banking we are all interdependent on each other to provide world-class service. We need to support one another as we service our customer/members. Every department needs to be laser-focused and responsible for delivering exceptional service because customers/members are our top priority.

Just like technology, frontline banking training is always evolving. There are also vast differences in the type and scope of sales and service training that is being delivered throughout the banking industry. If you continue to approach your training and process the same way as in the past, can you really demand new breakthrough results? Remember, the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting different results. I would encourage you to take a close look at the training you provide or receive and ask yourself, “Am I getting the results I want?” and “Could the training be better?”

One of the most important aspects of creating or enhancing a sales and service culture is selecting the training that will be delivered to your employees. Highly effective frontline sales and service training must incorporate the following key components:

Internal Analysis

Unfortunately, most frontline banking training takes a one size-fits-all approach. In most cases, they deliver canned or rewrapped programs that are used throughout multiple industries. Many of the training programs are not very applicable to banking and in our experience are minimally effective at best. These same training companies rarely conduct any form of employee analysis to uncover and identify specific training needs unique to the financial institution and its employees. In my experience, it is absolutely imperative that prior to conducting training we look internally to identify and measure the employees’ core strengths and challenges, what specific skills are they most interested in learning/developing and what are the most common obstacles that they encounter in their position. That is why we always administer our Service Culture Analysis™, because we need to have the answers to those very important questions. Once the internal analysis is complete, we then tailor an appropriate and relevant workshop curriculum to meet the financial institution’s specific needs.              

Interactive On-site Workshop

The training being delivered needs to be highly engaging, dynamic and fun to maximize employee participation and learning. The training must focus on specific employee skill building. Unfortunately, most of the sales and service training just teaches participants what to do, not the actual steps on how to do it. People develop skills and create habits by doing, that’s why vocational schools and universities have students learn the theory and then provide practical skill-building exercises. All our workshops incorporate Situational Learning Exercise™ (SLE’s) that simulate actual challenging situations that arise in a banking environment. Participants are then coached on how to use specific skills and then practice the techniques to overcome those challenges. It is our experience that people believe what they discover for themselves. The SLE’s facilitate that vital self-discovery, and as a result, alter the participants’ pre-conceived beliefs and habits and then they start to form new ones.               

Structured Follow-Up Program

One of the most critical components to any successful training program is incorporating a follow-up program. Estimates vary, but it is generally accepted that 60%-90% of the information and skills imparted in a training event are lost within 30 days if the training is not immediately and consistently reinforced.  A structured follow-up program will ensure increased retention of workshop methodology, accountability and sustainable long-term growth. It allows participants to really focus on perfecting the skills they learned in the workshop in a practical work environment. The follow-up program also needs to be easy to follow and incorporate a coaching component. That’s why all of our follow-up programs provide the manager/team-leader with a step-by-step Collabor-Meeting Coach’s Guide™ to help them support their team through the follow-up process. Employees who feel supported and valued by their supervisor are much more receptive to being coached, and committed to improving their own professional development.             

Performance Tracking

It is imperative that you have a performance tracking program in place, because you can’t manage what you can’t measure. The financial institution has made a significant commitment to develop a sales and service culture and employees need to be held accountable for following through with their own personal development. There needs to be a mechanism to monitor and track employee progress to ensure they are developing and improving their performance. Tracking programs allow managers to evaluate and grade their employees based on their individual goals and accomplishments.         

In Conclusion

If you want to improve branch performance, it all starts with focusing on integrating a sales and service culture into your financial institution. Not all sales and service training is created equal and it is important to understand the key components that make a training program highly effective. You cannot afford to waste time, money and vital resources on ineffective training for your team. Cultivating a successful sales and service culture throughout your financial institution has numerous benefits including bringing your team closer together and setting clear expectations with respect to enhancing the customer/member experience. Once you improve the level of service being provided and increase the product referral productivity, you will substantially improve performance by growing your balance sheet and increasing your earnings.                  

If you are interested in taking advantage of the many benefits of our in-person training solutions, please contact us today!