The 7th president of the United States, Andrew Jackson, said that he had always been afraid of banks. In the last 180 years financial service providers, products and channels of interaction have expanded to ’meet the needs of customers’. People are still afraid of banks, possibly even more so now. The main drivers of that fear are complex products, incomprehensible terms and conditions, rapidly changing technology and a lack of understanding of banking fees. Education is a key component in reducing that fear.
In 2010 Apple introduced the iPad and sold over one million in 28 days. The key to Apple’s success is that the company takes the time to explain things to the consumer, introducing concepts one at a time. Apple provides a hands-on classroom that’s easily accessible, where users can see with their own eyes just how these new products work for themselves. Apple communications embrace the variations of context in their customer engagements. Apple provides the variety of ‘message and medium’ to delight a diverse customer base.
79% of marketers prefer face-to-face training. Yes, the people who are creating your customer message believe that a message is best comprehended face-to face! Branches should form part of a bank’s education medium.
In the UK, Barclays are ripping out the counters in their 6500 branches and retraining the cashiers as community bankers. Their role is evolving from performing tasks on behalf of the customer to empowering those customers through education while also providing a safety net for those customer activities. The customer will walk the high wire after the bank guides them, safe in the knowledge that the bank is always there to catch them if they fall.
PNC are currently testing and evolving their approach to the conversion of branch staff from cashiers to educators and consultants. Wells Fargo are putting their branch staff at the centre of gathering feedback in addition to their education roles. Branch staff will gather feedback about all aspects of the customers’ interaction at the branch, online, mobile or through a third party. Chase uses teleconferencing to connect the customer to the expert that can share knowledge or address issues.
Customer education can generate more leads and sales for your business. It encourages customers and prospects to share more of their personal information. The shift from transaction to education can be a shift from quantity to quality. The first step for banks is to evaluate the importance of education to their customer interaction. When the bank has identified their customer educational goals, the role of the branch in that provision can be analysed.
There are many options for the delivery of education in the branch, more to follow on that in a later post!