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Big Smiles And Friendly Hellos Are Killing Your Community Bank

Big Smiles And Friendly Hellos Are Killing Your Community Bank

That Big Smile Isn’t Cutting It Anymore

Ask any community banker why their bank is the best in town and 99% will tell you it’s because of their service and their people or some variation. There are two major problems with that statement. We know for a fact that over 50% of community banks aren’t as good as the big banks in their market and quite frankly, many don’t offer the quality of service they think they do.

Don’t get us wrong, most community bankers are very friendly with lots of smiles when visiting a branch. Many are even pretty nice on the phone. Here’s part of the problem… employees in the big banks are nice and friendly too. For a community bank to rise to the top of their market they can no longer rely on that smile alone. There must be more, and guess what? We just so happen to have a two ideas for you.

The Reason to Call Program (AKA… Outbound Call Program)

We’ve written a good bit on this topic and more importantly, we’ve actually implemented successful Reason to Call Programs in community banks over the past 20 years. Unfortunately, failed call programs in community banks are as common as failing sales culture programs. If your focus is a product of the month, follow-up calls on a mass mail campaign, cold calling, and call quotas, then you’re destined for failure.

Make sure the right employee is calling the right customer at the right time for the right reason. The keys to a successful program are to build on the relationships you have with your best customers, offer value, develop new relationships, and to uncover opportunities. Only your best employees should be allowed to call (it’s a privilege to call, not a punishment). Your calling efforts must be tracked and celebrated on a weekly basis.

Related: 6 Keys To A Successful “Reason To Call Program”

The Incoming Call Program

This is an area where most community banks drop the ball. It’s not enough to smile and talk in a friend manner. Believe it or not, most banks do this as well as your bank. A lot of money is spent driving calls in so you must take steps to distinguish your bank from the competition.

We recently phone shopped several banks with the profile of a 40 year old who recently moved to the area. She was asking for IRA rates. Most banks gave her the current CD rates (not all quoted properly and compliantly). Most were friendly and you could hear their smiles over the phone. This is good but also very common. These same banks also missed a great opportunity because they failed to take a little time to ask a few profiling questions.

  • They didn’t ask for the caller’s age (it matters with IRAs)
  • They didn’t ask for the caller’s name
  • They didn’t find out she had $120,000 to rollover
  • They didn’t found out she and her husband were new to the area

Most employees gave the rates but less than 10% took advantage of the opportunity. The bank drove the call in with marketing dollars and other initiatives, but the employee fumbled the ball on the 1 yard line. Far too many employees are viewing the incoming call as an interruption instead of an opportunity.

If an employee is not rolling out the red carpet and treating the incoming call like a face-to-face interview, then shame on the employee. If the bank is not mystery shopping the employees to find out if this is happening, then shame on the bank. Either take advantage of the incoming call opportunity or stop wasting money driving calls in for no reason.

Related: 5 Surprising Things You’ll Learn From A Mystery Phone Shop

It’s really not that complicated

While it’s obviously important to improve the bottom-line by focusing on loan quality, interest spreads, etc. It’s also important not to miss out on the outbound and inbound call opportunities which have a direct impact on loan and deposit growth. A clear and focused approach on these two opportunities could add 25 basis points to your ROA within a year.

Forget about finding the latest silver bullet and get back to the basics this year. Opportunity is calling… literally.

SCMG, Inc.
9 Laurelwood Dr
Covington, LA, 70435
(800) 560-1127

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