And no, I am not talking about the type of tattoo I live in fear that my teenage son may come home sporting one day! I’m talking about your Personal Brand with customers.
Consumer trust in banks is at an all-time low. That fact, combined with the onslaught on banks by the media and social networks over the last year or so, has left front-line bankers feeling battered and bruised by upset and frustrated customers. That’s why I’m convinced it is now more important than ever for front-line bankers to develop their own Personal Brand.
While customers may be upset with the bank, they are not necessarily upset with the banker as an individual. This is where the banker’s Personal Brand comes into play. How do they handle the situation? What does the banker as an individual stand for in terms of helping customers? How do they demonstrate caring?
Bankers who have a Personal Brand and are able to deliver to sometimes angry and frustrated customers have a better chance at overcoming the cynicism and skepticism in today’s market. Remember, customers do not necessarily bank with the name over the door. They bank with the people inside the door.
James W. Bywater is Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Consulting Solutions for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.
If you are like so many in the financial services industry, hearing the words Dodd-Frank sends chills up your spine. The 16-page brief summary of Dodd-Frank from the banking.senate.gov website states a mission of “Create a Sound Economic Foundation to Grow Jobs, Protect Consumers, Rein in Wall Street and Big Bonuses, End Bailouts and Too Big to Fail, Prevent Another Financial Crisis.” Check out this graph from businessweek.com that provides you with a wonderful visual of the bill’s effect not only on financial institutions but the consumer as well.
I’ve been wondering lately about what conversations between bankers and their clients sound like these days. Let’s face it, the financial crisis changed the way people regard banking and it hasn’t been a positive change.
If you haven’t prepared your sales and service team to handle the difficult conversations occurring in the market today you’re probably setting them up for failure. Chances are good that there’s fear on the front line and your team may be coping in a variety of less than ideal ways.
You may find that they’re avoiding client conversations and no longer proactively attempting to uncover their customers’ needs and provide solutions. You may hear them become defensive when asked about bank policies or fees. Worse, they may actually side with the customer against the bank!
It’s time we faced the fact that we’re operating in a brand new environment that requires skills and learning that we either haven’t provided or if we did, our teams have forgotten.
We all know that to be successful in business we should follow up and follow through on what we say or expect to happen. It’s in every book on management and leadership, it’s the glue that keeps everything together and creates accountabilities.
So why is it that when we look carefully at many organisations’ sales and service cultures, we find gaps in this behaviour? Why is the relatively simple act of following up not being done consistently or well?
One reason is FOFU – Fear Of Follow-Up. If every time you followed up on your people you received good news, then there wouldn’t be a problem. In fact, you’d look forward to it. But what’s the reality? You follow up and find out that what you asked for has not been done or it has been done to a sub-optimal level. FOFU is the fear of finding out bad news and knowing that you’d have to do something about it.
So, how do you deal with this? You either avoid follow-up so as not to put yourself in harm’s way, or you try coming at it from a different perspective. Try saying to yourself, “I’m following up because I care. I’m not checking up to find something wrong.” If you can get yourself into the mindset of: “I care. I want to know what happened because I’m excited,” you’ll be in a much better position to deal with a potential confrontation if an employee has under-performed.
Ultimately, follow-up comes down to one simple message—inspect what you expect to create accountability. But to do this you need to intervene. So deal with any potential follow-up fears by continually reminding yourself why follow-up is the right thing to do for you, your people and your organisation.
Gerry Dwarshuis is a Senior Results Consultant for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.