According to the Ernst and Young Global Consumer Banking Survey 2014, consumer confidence in the banking industry is on the rise. However, the traditional, loyal relationship between banks and customers is threatened due to evolving demands and expectations that are often influenced by competing banks and nontraditional sources outside of the financial services industry. To retain customers and attract new ones, banks must focus on sustaining the level of loyalty that gives them the advantage over competing options for information on financial needs. To maintain this loyalty, many banks and others across the market have found themselves utilizing cloud-based solutions that enable bank representatives to stay attuned with customer preferences for delivering better customer experience.
Ernst and Young found that 41 percent of survey respondents chose to open an account based on customer experience. Similarly, the most common reason customers cited for opening or closing accounts in the past year was the sales experience with their financial services provider. While loyalty does play a huge role in customer retention, the survey showed that complete trust is a major differentiator for banks, and customer experience is a key driver of that level of trust. By utilizing technology to streamline the sales process and automate routine tasks, financial advisors have more time to spend gaining the knowledge of their customers that’s necessary for excellent customer experience.
According to the Ernst and Young survey, one of the key improvement areas for banks was helping customers make the right financial decisions in a complex environment. One of the reasons why financial advisors are challenged in this is that they don’t have the time to keep up with the pace at which consumers have become empowered and self-educated when shopping for solutions that meet their diverse, niche needs. Baby boomers are requiring more retirement products as part of their overall financial plans. Millennials are looking to plan for their future with health savings accounts. As a result, customers are looking elsewhere for their information, for instance managing their finances with independent research and online applications for advice on retirement.
Financial services organizations are investing more in resources like CRM systems, sales training, and other selling processes to understand the varied needs of their customers. At the same time, firms are feeling the pressure created by time spent reviewing best practices and the use of tools for better customer experience. What’s more, many leaders in the market are also challenged in getting advisors to adopt these new processes. Therefore, many financial services companies are faced with a gap between what their sales leaders intend to do, strategically, and what is actually executed by their advisors.
The financial services industry as a whole has yet to capture the full potential of adopting sales best practices that enable advisors to meet customers’ changing needs. Sales-execution solutions address this problem by enabling advisors to close more business quickly at a lower cost by making sales processes more repeatable and visible to leadership. Therefore, any challenges with new process adoption can be identified and rectified more efficiently, resulting in faster ROI for the entire organization.
We are at an inflection point where technology can aggregate a company’s resources into a systematic guided selling system that increases the efficiency of a financial advisor’s sales process. These solutions can:
- Increase advisor time in the field by streamlining and automating the creation of contextual selling content (such as presentations or bid sheets), increasing field sales capacity by hundreds of hours.
- Mitigate risk by ensuring advisors remain compliant with the newest rules and regulations when doing business with clients.
- Set a new standard for client experience. By providing clients with personalized proposals and presentations and delivering them via tablets, companies raise the bar for client experience.
These repeatable processes have already had an impact on the daily operations at some banks. For example, BDO was struggling with inconsistencies in its sales resources and had low win rates for proposals. Representatives were spending eight to twelve hours a day just fielding questions for RFPs. By helping sales reps to adopt repeatable best practices, RFP response is now less than 20% of the day. This frees up much needed time to keep up with customer needs and improves overall experience.
For leaders to implement sales processes efficiently that drive loyalty through excellent customer experience, sales execution technology can help. This type of technology seamlessly allows advisors to be more responsive to customers in real-time by streamlining suitable product options that are relevant to their diverse needs. What’s more, leaders can keep a close eye on processes that aren’t working and rectify the situation sooner.
-- Lewis Miller is CEO of Qvidian.