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Innovate Your Way To Branch Sales Effectiveness

Strategically Speaking
Oct 24, 2012

Brandon Kunz Author: Brandon Kunz,

The nature of branch banking is changing.  I hope that does not come as a surprise to any of us. 

Some predict the demise of the branch altogether.  Some predict a long and successful life remaining despite the increasing digitization of our world.  None seem to doubt that new and improved communication technologies available to us today are game changers.  In them we have immediate access to information; we can share messages instantaneously and at little or no cost, and can even deposit a paper check to our financial institution through a mobile phone.  Does this change the future of branch banking?  You bet.

New technologies, economic conditions, regulatory and compliance requirements and increasingly demanding customers heighten the imperative that banks have to rethink their branch networks.  Many financial institutions are striving to change the focus of the teller, away from the transaction to the development of meaningful relationships, to seeking out the real needs of clients, and helping to solve their problems.  They are using technology to help streamline and simplify processes and workflows in order to reduce costs and help empower the success of their people on the front lines. 

Buzz words abound to bring these concepts to top of mind.  I know I myself can’t be held guiltless for well-meaning but excessive use of the words transformation, interaction, and experience in recent communications; sometimes all in the same sentence.

As such, it was refreshing to hear firsthand the experiences of four ProfitStars’ clients at BAI Retail Delivery this year in Washington, DC regarding the innovation programs they have been involved with to improve the quality of customer engagement in the branch and improve sales effectiveness.  The panel discussion was moderated by our own David Foss and was made up of:

    • Terrence Schofield, Vice President of Store Systems Delivery and Services, TD Bank
    • Tom Malengo, Independent Banking Consultant, Appresso Consulting, Inc. and Former Senior Vice President and Director, Technology Strategy and Transformation, KeyBank
    • James Geeslin, Vice Chairman and Chief Sales Officer, Extraco Banks
    • Cynthia Purcell, Executive Vice President, Retail Banking & Administration, Banner Bank

The discussion spanned a variety of topics including how staffing needs are changing in the branch, the importance of improving branch sales processes, and how technology can be utilized to effectuate positive change for clients, branch personnel, and the financial institution overall.  Of course I was pleased to hear about the successful application of many of the technologies ProfitStars provides.  For example, Terrence Schofield mentioned that with teller image capture the transaction experience at TD Bank is, “Consistent, accurate, speedy and simple.”   He pointed out that this has been key to improving the branch experience as it enables front line staff to spend more time engaging with customers about what their needs are and how certain bank products may help them, with less time spent with their heads down focusing on the transaction.

The proper application of technology, of course, is just one part of a much larger story.  Each of the panelists emphasized the importance of defining and reinforcing financial institution culture, commitment to the customer, and getting the right people in the right place at the right time as critical to improving sales effectiveness in the branch.  Tom Malengo advised, “The system is going to be there, it will make the transactions work, worry about getting the information that is going to be important to your people to them so they can engage with the client.”

James Geeslin spoke keenly about the importance of “hiring the right folks, providing adequate training and coaching for results.” He spoke about how Extraco Banks has been able to improve the talent pool available to the entire financial institution by making good hiring decisions at the front lines and implementing a very rigid training schedule he compared to “flight training school.”  New and previous employees are required to complete the new training program and this has improved talent levels, reduced turnover, and improved customer survey results.

Cynthia Purcell emphasized that getting “the right people, the right seat on the bus” has been a number one focus for Banner Bank.  She stated, “Investment in people is the highest priority, it’s through our people that we deliver on our brand promise and that builds the long-term value of our company.”   She spoke to “training to the head, teaching to the heart, and coaching to success.”

It is encouraging for us at ProfitStars to be associated with so many clients that can be held up as such fantastic examples of success.  Your examples in doing the right thing and doing whatever it takes for your customers and having fun in the process, help and encourage us to do the same for you.  Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to be a part of your success.

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