Do I have that "new customer" smell?

dog sniffing out new customerOr have you gotten used to me? Every employee at every institution should be sniffing out new ways to help me as a customer—and build the business.

I recently visited a bank that is making a deliberate shift to a sales culture.

I only have one account there but needed to make an in-person visit to conduct a transaction. It was the perfect opportunity to take a close-up look and see if the shift was permeating the brand.

The branch location I visited was remodeled about six months ago. It’s really nice. Everything is pristine, and decor is neutral, contemporary and comfortable. This beautiful branch still has the “new bank” smell.

This is a really good bank, make no mistake. But changing from a mindset of service to sales is hard, and this bank still has room to grow.

brand immersion
I considered items from the Brand Immersion Checklist, such as:

  • Does it look like the brand or was it generic?
  • Can I tell what the brand stands for?
  • Does the environment align with the company’s purpose and values?

But even more important, how are the employees demonstrating and living the purpose and position of the bank?

service culture
There is branded signage on the walls in addition to artwork. The signs speak to the bank’s philosophy and promise to customers. It’s a promise of service. These messages are repeated on the flatscreen TV in the lounge area, alternating with financial news programming. Coffee also beckons from the lounge.coffee mug filled with candy

I was greeted almost immediately with a warm smile and a “How can I help you?” The rep asked me a few questions and updated my account, then helped me with the needed transaction and paperwork. So far, the promise was kept. Everything about the bank and its people exuded stellar service.

With business wrapped up, I asked a question about a third party online service that I knew a competitor had and this bank did not. The friendly rep wasn’t familiar with the third party service but immediately searched it online. We talked about it briefly, saying we were both interested in knowing more.

I sensed the closer coming soon, I hesitated, waiting for the wrap up, something like, “Is there anything else you need today?” Or even better, “I noticed that you only have an ABC account with us. I’d be happy to help you enhance that with a (checking, savings, CD, any other service) account. We’d love to be your full service bank!” It never came.

sales culture
This bank clearly understands how to deliver great service, but they’re stumbling when it comes to growing existing relationships. That’s the subtle difference between a service culture and a sales culture.

It’s harder and harder for banks to differentiate. Many banks offer the same services. They have branches. They offer online banking. They have friendly staff. How can one bank stand out from another? By getting in deep and wide with current customers. Make it not only easy and pleasant for customers to bank with you, but make it easy and painless to make a switch. The shift from simply a service to a sales culture is still in process for this bank. But if successful, it will help them grow even more.

I noticed a branded coffee cup on the rep’s desk stuffed with pens, candy and goodies with a little message sticking out reading, “You’ll feel like you won the lottery with Bank XYZ!” I assume this is for new customers but I’m not sure because I didn’t ask and the rep didn’t offer. Right now, I’m just an existing customer with only one account that doesn’t require me to interact more than two or three times per year with a person at the bank.

This beautiful branch still has the “new bank” smell. But clearly I do not have the “new customer” aroma.

craft your culture for growth
At MB Piland, we talk a lot about brand alignment, brand immersion, corporate culture and employee engagement. High growth companies understand that the internal and external brands are equally important and vital to success. To that end, deliberately crafting a culture that aligns with your company goals means employees can deliver on your promise to customers more consistently and more effectively.

If you need help aligning your brand with your growth plans, contact Martha Bartlett Piland direct at 785.969.6203.

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