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How to make the customer the focus of your bank

Think about the typical trip to the bank, not just to withdraw cash, but to actually speak with a banker. What is that interaction like? In many cases, it is a long, confusing process. The customer has to wait for the banker, they have to sit through product descriptions, hard and soft sells and multi-step processes just to get to what they want.

In this example, the bank is thinking about itself. It wants to get as many products and services as possible in front of the customer, all in the hopes of a sale. However, this strategy doesn't always work. In fact, it carries its own risk, because it can turn off the customer to that bank altogether. 

"Make it about the customer, not the bank."

The better option is to hone in on the customer's needs: speedy service, simple processes, a streamlined experience. Easy, affordable and effective. This means changing from a "bank-focus" to a "customer-focus." 

Here is what you need to know:

Why get closer to customers?
Today's retail banking environment is all about money. Banks want to save money, customers want to save money, and lost in all that is the human element. Focusing on the consumer gives banks the ability to change that.

At the moment, banks are concerned about retaining and growing their customer bases. As mobile and online technology improves, customers are easily replacing many of the services once offered at brick-and-mortar branches with their smartphones and tablets. What does this mean? It means banks have to adapt and grow, or else they can be left behind.

One way to do this is by focusing on the consumer. It doesn't just involve new technology (though that helps) or better "Our bank works for you!" marketing. It is a holistic approach, from the very top of the sales funnel all the way through the entire business.

The following are three tips to turn your bank into a consumer-centric institution:

1. Learn your customers' needs
The first step is to learn your customers' needs. Many companies that are trying to be more focused on the consumer realize that they actually don't know what they want out of the relationship. So, begin by polling your existing customer base. Ask them questions like "How much do you value online banking?" or "How many times do you speak with a teller in person?" These answers can help you determine a strategy moving forward. Depending on their needs, you could want to adopt a universal banker model, introduce more smart ATMs, revamp your online banking or create a new product or service.

"Ditch silos and create overlap in your channels."

2. Break the silos
Most banks today operate in silos. Each product is blocked off from another, each with its own sales funnel and other processes. This means there is little overlap. Customers who want retail banking talk to one professional. Customers who need a mortgage talk to another. If that customer is the same, it means a lot of back and forth and confusion. Instead, break the silos. Make sure your channels can overlap, like with a universal banker who is qualified to answer retail banking questions and help with a mortgage. This way, the customer is the important part, not the silo, and your employees are versatile, engaged and knowledgeable about all areas of your bank.

3. Do it well
The final tip revolves around the customer experience. Everyone wants a smooth, simple banking process, but unfortunately, many institutions can't offer this. You can, by learning what your customers want and then doing that really well. Train up your employees in these areas and implement processes, policies and systems focusing on customer service. Make it easier for your team to help the consumer, and in turn, they'll have a more enjoyable experience working with your bank.

At the end of the day, banking should be all about the customer.