By Paul Nunn, Director of Client Education, Pinnacle Financial Strategies, Houston, Texas
Did you know?” These three words can be a very powerful tool to help your frontline employees with referrals. I was onsite at a bank recently conducting training sessions for one of my clients. During a break, I was visiting with my contact in the bank lobby. I watched a young man in overalls splattered with paint walk up to the teller window and hand the teller some checks to cash. She greeted him and asked how she can help him. “I just need to cash some of your customer’s checks,” he said. Since he’s wasn’t an account holder at that bank, the teller informed him that there was a $5 check-cashing fee for non-customers. He agreed to the terms and the transaction continued.
While he was waiting for the teller to complete the transaction, I introduced myself. His name was Shane. As his attire suggested, he worked as a painter and handyman, and owned a successful remodeling business. We got to talking about construction, what he does, etc. I asked for a few of his business cards since I would be in town for a few days training bank employees and maybe I could refer some business to him. He appreciated the gesture.
Then I asked Shane, “At which bank do you have your business account?” He told me he banked across the street—literally. “Did you know that you could save $5 simply by having your business account here?,” I asked. He admitted that he hadn’t even thought about transferring his account. Since he has several customers who are customers of the bank we were in, he said he’d consider it.
Later that afternoon, during training, I mentioned my interaction with Shane to a bank employee. She told me that she was about to pay off her home and was considering remodeling her kitchen. I gave her Shane’s card. At the end of the day, I texted Shane to let him know that I had referred him to an employee at the bank in which we’d met.
Here is the text he sent back, word for word: “Okay, sounds great. We will take care of her! I definitely will be looking into switching to you all. What you did [for me] is just what I was looking for…someone willing to go to the extra mile! Thanks.”
And yes, I showed the text to the bank president before I left.
Referrals are not hard. They don’t take a lot of time. The biggest barrier is the fear of being considered pushy.
I hear from bankers in my training classes all the time who left the big banks because they didn’t like the sales culture there. I wouldn’t want to work in that environment either. They don’t want to be pushy. I get it. No one likes that atmosphere. That’s why many people dread going to a car dealership.
But it’s not pushy to help customers save money. It’s not pushy to recommend something that can help customers earn more money. It’s not pushy to help customers save time.
I challenge you to take a few minutes and listen to your frontline employees. Are they order takers? Are they transaction-based? Or are they taking the time to look for ways to help your customers? There’s a huge difference between “selling” and “customerservice.” Selling is trading goods or services in exchange for money. Customer service is helping people. We are in the customer service business. We are in the relationship business.
Here are some phrases your employees can use to recommend your products and services:
- “I see you bank at XYZ. Did you know that you can save time by setting up your loan payment to be transferred automatically?”
- “Did you know that we also offer mortgage services? I can introduce you to Andy, our mortgage specialist.”
- “Did you know that you can save money for the holidays by setting up a separate account that transfers money automatically?”
Paul Nunn is the director of client education at Houston-based Pinnacle Financial Strategies. The firm provides proven strategies and turnkey programs that boost profitability, increase growth and improve customer acquisition and retention for community banks nationwide. Pinnacle offers a complete catalog of professional development courses. Contact Nunn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 713/335-4652; or visit pinnaclefinancialstrategies.com and click on the “Professional Development” link to download a brochure.