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Retail Banking

How to Engage Frontline Staff in a New Way to Sell

Just creating fancy new digital banking tools isn't enough, staff and customers need to understand how to get the most from them

Many banks and credit unions are creating digital product and service offerings to help customers more easily manage their finances. But even as executives recognize the need – and opportunity – to engage customers through better digital tools, there remains a question of how to get them using the tools.

Most recognize that the old truism of “if you build it, they will come” doesn’t hold – and yet, there is still no clear winning strategy for introducing this new value to customers.

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One bank in CEB, now Gartner’s networks recently designed a new checking and savings product that helps customers manage their daily finances – planning for upcoming bills, more easily transferring money to savings, etc. And yet while senior managers understood the value that this product could provide to customers, few frontline staff were initially successful in talking about it.

Selling the new type of account required staff to demonstrate how it could help customers manage their daily finances so the bank launched an initiative to get staff to use the account themselves. There were two critical components of the sales strategy.

  1. Turn staff into product users: Management found that the best way to guarantee that staff feel comfortable walking customers through the new product – and particularly in describing how it can be used as part of daily financial management – was to have staff use the product themselves.

    To do this, the bank launched a “Digital Olympics” program in which staff must complete various financial activities like paying a bill or setting up alerts using the product. This also allows the bank to update staff on new capabilities over time by adding additional Olympics challenges.

  2. Change the sales conversation to focus on financial management: Managers understood that it would be difficult to get frontline staff excited about selling their new product if they were uncertain about the value it would provide to customers. The bank wanted to show staff how having a unique solution to customer financial management challenges not only makes the sales job easier, but is also more valuable to customers.

    To do this, the bank asked staff to share aspects of the product that they most used and appreciated. Staff were then trained to begin the sales process by trying to understand the challenges customers faced in managing their finances, and then connecting these challenges to one of the features that they identified during the training as being one of their favorites.


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