How consumers bank is changing. The digital age has ushered in a host of new fintech startups that threaten to steal market share from traditional banks and credit unions as consumers look for simpler, faster and more personalized ways to manage their money. For banks and credit unions, this means they must offer a superior customer experience that can rival up and coming fintech startups such as Lending Club, Marcus (the new online lending venture of Goldman Sachs), BankSimple and Nutmeg to name a few. When it comes to delivering a superior customer experience and competing in an increasingly crowded space, it is essential to make sure you are fielding an effective and knowledgeable customer service team. But this can only be accomplished with a strategic employee bank or credit union training program.
The 3 Primary Problems with the Current Bank or Credit Union Employee Training Model
According to Accenture, 34 percent of consumers who switched banks and credit unions in 2014 did so because of a poor customer service experience. In many cases, this poor customer service experience can be traced back to training and an employee’s confidence, or lack of confidence, with the material they are charged with communicating to clients. There are three primary problems that cause most bank or credit union training programs to fail.
1. There is too much information.
The typical bank or credit union has (at minimum) 5,000 pages of policy, procedure and product information, which contains roughly 2,500-3,000 individual answers. With such a large volume of information, training front-line staff so that they can confidently convey product and policy details to customers is nearly impossible. To add to the complexity, front-line staff must not only memorize roughly 3,000 answers, but they must be able to use those answers to then respond to hundreds of different customer scenarios.
2. Information is constantly changing — roughly 30 percent every year.
Change is a given. And in a bank or credit union, change is constant. Roughly 30 percent of a bank or credit union’s policy, procedure and product information changes every year. As new products are introduced or discontinued there are new marketing promotions and initiatives that are launched, rates are constantly in flux, procedures evolve, and the list goes on. To stay competitive, this constant evolution is necessary, but for the front-line staff who are trying their best to answer hundreds of different customer questions every day, this constant change poses a major challenge to an already difficult job.
3. Sales training gets lumped in with product training.
As Accenture wrote in its report, The Case for the Human Touch in Banking, “As trusted financial consultants, branch employees will be charged with helping customers achieve their financial goals in radically different ways. They need to be able to deliver strategic advisory services, communicate the intricacies of complex financial products, and identify solutions that best match the needs of each customer. This means moving beyond product mastery and developing active listening and assessment skills.” While this is a major focus for most banks or credit unions as they attempt to compete in the digital age, all too often this sales training mindset is getting in the way of actual product training. Front-line staff needs a solid foundation in the product, policy and procedure information necessary to service customers without putting them on hold. Without this foundation, there is no way they will be able to employ the fancy sales techniques that most institutions dream of for their front-line staff.
Impacts of Current Bank or Credit Union Training Model
Employee confidence suffers.
The primary job duty of a front-line staffer is to answer customer questions. Yet, a majority of the time front-line staff have to put members on hold (for an average of 15 minutes) and ask a subject matter expert for help or dig through a 5,000-page policy, procedure and product manual to find the correct answer. When front-line staff is continuously unable to immediately and autonomously answer member questions, it drains their confidence and wreaks havoc on their morale.
The member experience suffers.
It comes as no surprise that when a member is put on hold for 3 minutes or more, with the average hovering around 15 minutes, and member service professionals are not able to convey confidence in the answers they are providing, the member experience suffers.
When employees have no confidence in their answers and have to put members on hold, a large number of potential sales or transactions never occur; the real conversation never happens, as members hang up or decide to take their business elsewhere.
Employee turnover increases.
Each of the scenarios mentioned above contributes to high employee turnover. In exit interviews with human resources, front-line staff site two primary reasons for their departure:
- They don’t feel that they are making a difference
- They don’t believe they are being a good financial consultant
Instead of relying on traditional training methods that have proven to be ineffective, banks and credit unions should implement real-time training by giving employees access to immediate and accurate answers to all of their questions. People can only remember so much. By providing employees a way to search for and easily find the exact answers they need, they will be better equipped to do their jobs and provide better service. With product, policy and procedure information right at their fingertips, they may even be able to begin learning sales techniques to up-sell and cross-sell!
Real-time training, that can be accessed by employees at any time of day, is a far more effective training model that is overlooked by most organizations. But how do banks and credit unions implement such a strategy? The answer can be found in a robust intranet that is built with clear and targeted answers, not long dense documents that make search impossible and confuse front-line staff.
Knowledge base software built with specific answers can help customer service agents find answers to customer questions and can be leveraged across channels so that content, information, messaging and training is uniform and stored in one central repository.
At SilverCloud, we specialize in helping banks and credit unions improve the customer experience through a knowledge base software solution that makes bank and credit union training simple and effective. Plus, we provide a team of content specialists that breaks down and reformats all of your policy, procedure and product information so that it is clear, searchable, consistent and easily understood by front-line staff. Not only that but your content team becomes a part of your staff for the duration of your contract to ensure accuracy and efficiency at every step. Want to learn more? Contact us or check out the results of some of our current clients.