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One Simple Way To Respect Your Customers

One Simple Way To Respect Your Customers

The value of appointment setting

Each week, we mystery phone shop community banks across the country. One common shop will include a simple customer inquiry about one of the bank’s products or services. In over 90% of these shops, the bank employee will fail to do one simple thing that will show respect for the customer… They fail to offer an appointment.

Just last week, one of our shoppers was inquiring about a checking account and asked how long it would take to open the account. This was an opportunity for the employees to set themselves and their bank apart from competitors. The answers were pretty much the same. The typical answer is that it would take from 15 to 45 minutes, depending on how busy the location was, and even longer if there were other customers in the branch at the time. What this said to the caller was that he was just another number and the bank was not considerate of his schedule.

Here’s the problem. People are busy and even if they aren’t, most have better things to do than to sit in your bank for an unknown period of time. If you’re not at least offering an appointment, then you’re missing these key opportunities.

Respecting your customer’s time

We all have 86,400 seconds in a day and each of those seconds is a valuable asset. The time your customer spends with you should be about building the relationship, providing a remarkable customer service experience, and creating efficiency and profitability for the bank. When you respect your customer’s time you also respect your bank’s time. By offering the appointment as an option to just “walking in”, you are telling the customer your bank respects and values their time. For busy and successful people, from the soccer mom to the local brain surgeon, this could be a key factor in whether they do business with you or your competitor.

Related: Top 10 Time Wasters In Community Banking – Part 2

Stopping the shop

Odds are when someone calls your bank for product information, they are going down a list of banks to call. Make your bank the last one they call on that list. If you can get them to stop calling their list once they speak to your bank, then you’ve done your job. Setting an appointment accomplishes this task. Now, if you do a poor job of asking profiling questions in a conversational manner and you fail to engage in conversation with the caller, then it’s a guarantee the caller will not set an appointment and will move on to the next bank on their list. So make sure there’s more to your interaction than a smile and friendly hello.

Related: Big Smiles And Friendly Hellos Are Killing Your Community Bank

Standing out from the competition

If you want to stand out from the pack, be different. Trust us, very few banks are offering to set the appointment. Just implement this one thing and at the very least you’ll stand out to potential new customers shopping CD rates or asking about a checking account or loan. By the way, we call this a soft innovation. It’s easy to implement and doesn’t cost a dime.

Every good idea has it’s detractors

Guess what? Not everyone will like this innovation. However, if you like the idea of setting appointments, and you should, get ready for the Status Quo Protectors to make excuses as to why it’s a bad idea or they just can’t do it. Here are a few of those objections and what you should know to prepare for the inevitable.

  • What if someone else walks in to meet with me 10 minutes before the scheduled appointment? – This will happen and it’s a great time to begin teaching customers about your new way of doing business. Let that customer know you only have 10 minutes. If they need more time than that, offer to set an appointment for another time.
  • But what if that customer has $5 million to invest in a CD? – Ok, sure, that happens all the time! Let’s say it actually does. This is a great problem to have! Any good branch manager should be able to handle that situation and find a solution. Contact the customer with the appointment and do what you have to do, but keep the appointment and commitment you made to the customer.
  • I can’t set an appointment for Joe Loan Officer because I don’t have his calendar. – This is a legitimate excuse that is easily overcome by having a team calendar that is accessible by any employee that answers the phone.

You’ll hear other excuses as well but the point is, they are all excuses. There is no good excuse for running your branch and team by not offering appointments to your customers. Follow this simple idea of setting appointments and you will quickly show your customers that you truly respect them and their time.

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

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