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Retail bankers are known for being nice helpful people…

But they also come across as not really knowing their products or how customers benefit by using them.

It’s no wonder….most banks put so little effort into preparing their retail team members with a deep knowledge of their products and how customers can save time and money while avoiding frustration by using them.

Yet they misguidedly expect their uneducated team to educate their customers.

I often find that the majority of retail team members are fairly young and have used very few banking services themselves.

Therefore, you are sending a novice with little knowledge to help your clients understand services that your staff knows very little about themselves.

There are a few valid reasons for this.

One being the frequency of turnover within your frontline staff.

Shortages make training difficult and make on-the-job training almost impossible.

There are just too many competing priorities in the branch for that to happen with consistency.

The second being that most banks have never taken the time to define how customers benefit from their products and services.

They just try to sell the same set of services to every customer that walks through their door, in the same way.

*Source: Markinblog, June 6, 2021 and Millennials and Gen Z — 85 banking stats you need to know, July 15, 2021

I tell bankers that there are really only 3 things that they do for customers:

1. Help them find ways of keeping their money safe and invested when they HAVE money.

2. Help them by lending them money when they NEED money and don’t have it., and

3. Provide convenient ways for them to ACCESS their banking relationship and quickly and easily move money where they need it.

It’s not rocket science.

That does mean that every banker that interacts with customers should have a clear understanding of how your bank meets these 3 needs for your customers: Products, features and benefits, and practical ways in which various types of clients use your services.

This includes questions to ask and clues to listen for within relationship conversations that will tip you off that they have a need for your services.

Most community banks and credit unions are still pushing brochures in front of customers and asking them what flavor of banking services they would like.


Their bankers add little or no value to the transaction.

They are just order takers that are good at fulfilling the customer’s order.

The challenge is that most customers don’t understand the nuances of your products and services.

Then when something unexpected happens, a fee for dropping below the minimum balance or a check returned due to a timing issue, they feel taken advantage of and start looking for another bank.


When they do find another bank, they make the switch only to be disappointed again.

It is time for bankers to take relationship building and client education of your products and services seriously.

You have heard the story of the wood cutter who stopped every hour to sharpen his axe and how he consistently outperformed a much stronger woodsman that didn’t stop to sharpen his tools.

The same is true for bankers.

Not sharpening your tools….training your team members for success…. means you will be consistently underperforming in relation to your real potential.

Poorly trained people aren’t able to optimize the few moments of time you have with customers today compared to the more frequent visits of the recent past.

You have less time and fewer opportunities to build a relationship, so you need people that are highly skilled at relationship building to reach your potential.

The other reality that banks and credit unions are facing is that even if they have entered the 21st century and are using targeted communication to reach and inform customers, untrained bankers can’t add much value by proactively following up with customers that they haven’t built a relationship with.

In the customer’s eyes, no relationship means you are just cold calling them like everyone else.


*source: Copyright Visible Progress

It’s time that you establish a disciplined relationship building process with people first.

Then, when you add personalized targeted marketing to that, it will be received positively instead of negatively.

The reality is that Retail Banking starts and ends with people, even when customers buy online.

Research shows that they still prefer having a relationship with someone in the event a problem arises.

When they know who to call and trust that their issues will be quickly resolved they are a more loyal and profitable customer.

Having a relationship and trust built with their banker is still what strengthens loyalty and drives long term success.

*Source: Markinblog, June 6, 2021

Your most valuable bankers will have a solid understanding of the NEED MONEY side of the business.

Bankers that are able to have proper NEED MONEY discussions with customers are able to generate 2 to 3 times the sales and growth of relationships compared to those that aren’t well trained in being able to guide a customer through the complexity of accessing money when they need to borrow it.

Typically 5 to 10% of all bankers in retail are well trained in the fundamentals of lending and credit.

Yet, typically a third or more of the bank’s customers NEED MONEY at any given point in time. I am not saying that every banker should be accredited to originate mortgages, but I am saying they should be able to understand where a mortgage might be a better choice for a customer than another consumer loan or increasing a line of credit or using their credit card.

They should be well trained to be the customer’s guide in all 3 categories, HAVE, NEED and ACCESS, even if their involvement is only to the point of referring the opportunity to an expert.

If you would like to learn more about how to make relationship building through your front line staff part of your core training and development process, or if you would like to know how you can customize a simple sales process, based on asking 3 simple relationship building questions, into your bank’s strategy to retain staff and grow customer relationships, we are happy to provide a Free Consultation.

Give us a call for a brief, no-nonsense strategy session.

Tim Scholten has been nicknamed by many of his colleagues as the “ROI Repair Master” and he can bring this same clarity and Visible Progress to your bank.

3D Relationship Building Strategy

If you are a Banker and you are reading this, you can’t afford to ignore this #1 strategy if you want truly satisfied clients and thriving profitability. They say, “first impressions are everything.” But is your team consistently creating the best first impression……