Customer relationship in the banking and insurance sectors : Re-invention is needed


Charles Georges

June 5, 2015

I have worked with banks and insurance companies for more than 15 years now and have to admit that there is an issue with understanding the “advisor role” paradox.

Each time I meet a bank as a partner or provider, and have discussions with their teams (either from IT or business), they say: “Our advisors are at the center of the relationship with our customers. They deliver the highest value to customers. They are best suited to understand the customers’ needs and propose to the right solutions. ”

We could say that the advisors focus on “high-quality” customer interactions.

On the other hand, each branch and advisor has generally very high and precise targets in terms of number of customer meetings and specific products to sell in specific periods. Pressure is high, results always too low. Of course, these targets are connected to the advisor incentives.

We could say that the advisors focus on “high-productivity” customer interactions.

What about the customers now? What do we all prefer in terms of interactions, meetings, relationship? High quality or high productivity?

Moreover, we can’t ignore that WE, as customers, change our behavior with our personal providers, banks included.

Digital in particular impacts the way we “consume” financial services. Our competence on financial topics is easily growing thanks to the internet; we are more and more autonomous thanks to the ever evolving digital transformation and mobile apps that our banks develop. We compare prices between financial providers each time we can and at the end of the day, lesser branch footfalls to meet advisors (especially when there is a chance to be attached to a digital branch that is open outside the working hours).

Last, but not least, the advisor point of view.

During the last 10 years, the advisor role has changed due to three main factors: the number of products in their portfolio has exploded (around 200 generally), the customer behavior has changed and will continue to change because of digitalization & competition (which is now stronger than ever and can come from unexpected actors).

Let’s now try and think from an advisor’s perspective:

  • First, do you think they prefer to build and maintain a “high-quality” or a “high-productivity” kind of relationship with customers? Of course: high-quality.
  • Second, do you think that they prefer earning incentives or not? Of course, everybody prefers earning incentives, achieving goals, etc.
  • Third, do you think that they prefer understanding and getting more out of this new world around them? The answer is too easy …

At the end of the day, the question is that the advisor must often choose the role he wants to play: advise or sell? Why not both?

If this could be possible, the financial organization will be able to answer the following issues:

  • Satisfying the customer and rebuilding a relationship of trust
  • Giving back the advisor his customer service role and enabling the largest possible number  to be at the leading edge
  • Accelerating growth and increasing the commercial productivity

I am nearly sure that creating a lasting commercial relationship with the customer is the advisor’s true mission. That means:

  • Placing trust at the heart of the relationship
  • Inspiring the customer to meet more often with the advisor
  • Getting the customer to reveal information (earnings, assets, projects, etc.)
  • Knowing which products and services are meaningful for the customer

Are you dreaming of that kind of relationship with your advisor?

Are you are dreaming of a similar relationship with your customers?

Do you think it is impossible at a global level?

First good news: we know that it is possible … because we have seen it working, at a global level in a French bank.
Second good news: it has nothing to do with magic, localized talent or hypnotism.

It is all about: method, training, tools and attitude.

This starts with wanting to change.

Let me finish this post with one of my favorite quote from Maya Angelou:

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”


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