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How Customer Accountability Will Boost Your RMs' Performance

Making relationship managers, and indeed all employees, responsible for hitting customer-related goals will make commercial banks more successful

Although it’s not a new idea in banking, or in relationship management roles in any industry come to that, holding relationship managers (RMs) directly responsible for customer-related outcomes is an incredibly effective way of boosting the amount of revenue that comes into a bank.

Despite all this, however, it’s still quite rare. More than half of RMs do not have customer accountability metrics – such as customer satisfaction or attrition – as part of their sales incentive goals. Customer accountability is toothless without a definition of what it looks like. The bank will simply have no means of tracking, teaching, or supporting their revenue-generating teams.

Making the Frontline More Accountable

Senior execs at one commercial bank in CEB’s networks took three concrete steps to solidify the idea of customer accountability in the culture of the bank, and to erase any confusion among employees about what accountability was and who was responsible for it.

  1. Source opportunities for accountability from customers: The executive team realized that if the idea of customer accountability was going to make a real difference to business customers’ bottom line, it needed to be directly in line with the challenges and needs that those customers had.

    So the bank created a form that captured customer needs, which it then uses as a tool to shape conversations between RMs and customers, and later has the RM enter into the CRM system.

  2. Set accountability standards: Rather than telling employees to view customer needs and “be accountable” to them, executives provide concrete examples of acceptable actions that count as a “customer impact accountability measure.”

    The exec team also took into account the bank’s wide geographic footprint and created a broad range of sample objectives that could be used to assess the impact an RM or the bank was having on business customers.

  3. Hold every employee accountable to customers – not just the frontline: It shouldn’t fall solely on the banker to be accountable to customers.

    Realizing this, the exec team asks every employee to create client impact goals that are measurable. Employees in marketing, underwriting, IT, and accounting are all responsible for developing personal client impact goals.

The bank’s clients are clearly benefiting from increased customer accountability, as CEB research would back up. In fact, 77% of financing clients said in 2015 that their banker provided them with “strategic advice to maximize their full business potential,” and operationally the bank saw a 10% drop year-over-year in the time it took from the first client contact to disbursement of a loan to them.


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