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Measure and Motivate the Right Contact Center Agent Behaviors

Increasingly banks must operate in a multi-channel environment.  While the changing role of the branch, combined with automated channels such as online and mobile, are getting a lot of attention, there remains a key role for the contact center in delivering an effective customer experience.  Central to this key role is designing an effective customer experience, comprised of the right sales and service behaviors – those which influence customer attitudes and behaviors in a profitable way yielding the most return on investment.

To provide direction with respect to what sales and service behaviors will yield the most return on investment, Kinesis conducted a series of mystery shops to identify which sales and service behaviors have the most influence on purchase intent. In addition to observing specific sales and service behaviors, mystery shoppers were also asked to rate how the call would have influenced their purchase intent if they had been a real customer. This purchase intent rating was then used as means of calculating the strength of the relationship between each behavior and purchase intent.

To determine the relationship between these service attributes and purchase intent, the data for these different studies was cross-tabulated by the purchase intent rating and subjected to significance testing. [i]

When the percentage of calls in which purchase intent significantly increased is tested against the percentage of calls where purchase intent significantly decreased, nearly all the sales and service attributes are statistically significant at or above a 95% confidence level.

 

Significantly Increased Significantly Decreased Test Statistic
Product knowledge 98% 35% 9.6
Explanations easy to understand 99% 45% 9.0
When thanked, respond graciously 98% 42% 8.5
Friendly demeanor / pleasant voice 100% 60% 8.4
Express appreciation for interest / thank you for business 92% 20% 8.3
Listen attentively 99% 60% 7.3
Ask probing questions 79% 10% 6.4
Offer further assistance 85% 25% 6.2
Speak clearly and avoid bank jargon 98% 68% 5.8
Listen attentively to your needs 80% 25% 5.3
Mention other bank product 99% 75% 5.3
Clear Greeting 95% 60% 5.1
Invite you to visit branch 64% 10% 4.6
Explain the value of banking with bank 57% 5% 4.4
Offer to mail material / mention website 66% 20% 4.3
Ask your name 68% 25% 3.8
Ask for your business / close the sale 57% 21% 2.9
Avoid interrupting 100% 95% 2.9
If no one available to assist you, offered options 100% 0% 2.2
Professional greeting 98% 89% 1.9

 

The differences between the highest and lowest purchase intent for product knowledge and ease to understanding explanations are the most significant, while a professional greeting is the least significant.

Dividing these behaviors into rough quartiles and comparing them side-by-side, reveals some interesting observations:

 

 

Quartile I

Product knowledge

Explanations easy to understand

When thanked, respond graciously

Friendly demeanor / pleasant voice

Express appreciation for interest / thank you for business

 

Quartile II

Listen attentively

Ask probing questions

Offer further assistance

Speak clearly and avoid bank jargon

When thanked, employee respond graciously

 

Quartile III

Listen attentively to your needs

Mention other bank product

Clear greeting

Invite you to visit branch

Explain the value of banking with bank

Offer to mail material / mention website

 

Quartile IV

Ask your name

Ask for your business / close the sale

Avoid interrupting

If no one available to assist you, offered options

Professional greeting

 

The attributes with the most significant differences between high and low purchase intent ratings appear to be those associated with reliability and empathy.  It appears mystery shoppers valued such “core” attributes as product knowledge or interest/enthusiasm for the customer.  They seem to be less concerned with more peripheral service attributes, such as asking for names, etc.  Influencing purchase intent is not as simple as merely using the customer’s name or answering the phone within a short period of time.  Rather it is a much more challenging undertaking of being competent in your job and having the customer’s best interests at heart.

[i] Significance testing determines if any differences observed are the result of actual differences in the populations measured rather than the result of normal variation.  Without getting into too much detail, significance testing produces a test statistic to determine the probability that differences observed are statistically significant.  A test statistic above 1.96 equates to a 95% confidence level, which means there is a 95% chance any differences observed are the result of actual differences in the populations measured rather than normal variation.  For all practical purposes a test statistic over 3.1 means there is 100% chance the differences observed are statistically significant (although in reality the probability never reaches 100%).  Finally, in interpreting the following analysis, it is important note that test statistics are not lineal.  A test statistic of two is not twice as significant as a test statistic of one.  The influence on significance decreases as the test statistic increases.  However, the test statistic does give us an opportunity to rank the service attributes by their statistical significance.


Click Here For More Information About Kinesis'; Bank Mystery Shopping


Click Here For More Information About Kinesis' Contact Center CX Research


Clink Here for Mystery Shopping Best Practices

Best Practices in Bank Customer Experience Measurement Design

The question was simple enough…  If you owned customer experience measurement for one of your bank clients, what would you do?

Through the years, I developed a point of view of how to best measure the customer experience, and shared it with a number of clients, however, never put it down to writing.

So here it is…

Best practices in customer experience measurement use multiple inputs in a coordinated fashion to give managers a 360-degree view of the customer experience.  Just like tools in a tool box, different research methodologies have different uses for specific needs.  It is not a best practice to use a hammer to drive a screw, nor the butt end of a screwdriver to pound a nail.  Each tool is designed for a specific purpose, but used in concert can build a house. The same is true for research tools.  Individually they are designed for specific purposes, but used in concert they can help build a more whole and complex structure.

Generally, Kinesis believes in measuring the customer experience with three broad classifications of research methodologies, each providing a unique perspective:

  1. Customer Feedback – Using customer surveys and other less “scientific” feedback tools (such as comment tools and social media monitoring), managers collect valuable input into customer expectations and impressions of the customer experience.
  1. Observation Research – Using performance audits and monitoring tools such as mystery shopping and call monitoring, managers use these tools to gather observations of employee sales and service behaviors.
  1. Employee Feedback – Frontline employees are the single most underutilized asset in terms of understanding the customer experience. Frontline employees spend the majority of their time in the company-customer interface and as a result have a unique perspective on the customer experience.  They have a good idea about what customers want, how the institution compares to competitors, and how policies, procedures and internal service influence the customer experience.

These research methodologies are employed in concert to build a 360-degree view of the customer experience.

360-degree bank customer experience measurement

The key to building a 360-degree view of the customer experience is to understand the bank-customer interface.  At the center of the customer experience are the various channels which form the interface between the customer and institution.  Together these channels define the brand more than any external messaging.  Best in class customer experience research programs monitor this interface from multiple directions across all channels to form a comprehensive view of the customer experience.

Customer and front-line employees are the two stakeholders who interact most commonly with each other in the customer-institution interface.  As a result, a best practice in understanding this interface is to monitor it directly from each direction.

Tools to measure the experience from the customer side of interface include:

Post-Transaction Surveys: Post-transaction surveys provide intelligence from the other side of customer-employee interface.  These surveys are targeted, event-driven, collecting feedback from customers about specific service encounters soon after the interaction occurs.  They provide valuable insight into both customer impressions of the customer experience, and if properly designed, insight into customer expectations.  This creates a learning feedback loop, where customer expectations can be used to inform service standards measured through mystery shopping.  Thus two different research tools can be used to inform each other.  Click here for a broader discussion of post-transaction surveys.

Customer Comments:  Beyond surveying customers who have recently conducted a service interaction, a best practice is to provide an avenue for customers who want to comment on the experience.  Comment tools are not new (in the past they were the good old fashioned comment card), but with modern Internet-based technology they can be used as a valuable feedback tool to identify at risk customers and mitigate the causes of their dissatisfaction.  Additionally, comment tools can be used to inform the post transaction surveys.  If common themes develop in customer comments, they can be added to the post-transaction surveys for a more scientific measurement of the issue.  Click here for a broader discussion of comment tools.

Social Monitoring:  Increasingly social media is “the media”; prospective customers assign far more weight to social media then any external messaging.  A social listening system that analyzes and responds to social indirect feedback is increasingly becoming essential.  As with comment tools, social listening can be used to inform the post transaction surveys.  Click here for a broader discussion of social listening tools.

Directing our attention to the bank side of the interface, tools to measure the experience from the bank side of bank-customer interface include:

Mystery Shopping:  In today’s increasing connected world, one bad experience could be shared hundreds if not thousands of times over.  As in-person delivery models shift to a universal associate model with the branch serving as more of a sales center, monitoring and motivating selling skills is becoming increasingly essential.  Mystery shopping is an excellent tool to align sales and service behaviors to the brand. Unlike the various customer feedback tools designed to inform managers about how customers feel about the bank, mystery shopping focuses on the behavioral side of the equation, answering the question: are our employees exhibiting appropriate sales and service behaviors?  Click here for a broader discussion of mystery shopping tools.

Employee Surveys:  Employee surveys often measure employee satisfaction and engagement.  However, in terms of understanding the customer experience, a best practice is to move employee surveys beyond employee engagement and to understand what is going on at the customer-employee interface by leveraging employees as a valuable and inexpensive resource of customer experience information.  This information comes directly out one side of the customer-employee interface, and provides not only intelligence into the customer experience, but also evaluates the level of support within the organization, solicit recommendations, and compares perceptions by position (frontline vs. management) to identify perceptual gaps which typically exist within organizations.  Click here for a broader discussion of employee surveys.

For more posts in this series, click on the following links:


Click Here For More Information About Kinesis' Bank CX Research Services

Best Practices in Bank Customer Experience Measurement Design: Customer Surveys

Post Transaction Surveys

Many banks conduct periodic customer satisfaction research to assess the opinions and experiences of their customer base. While this information can be useful, it tends to be very broad in scope, offering little practical information to the front-line.  A best practice is a more targeted, event-driven approach collecting feedback from customers about specific service encounters soon after the interaction occurs.

These surveys can be performed using a variety of data collection methodologies, including e-mail, phone, point-of-sale invite, web intercept, in-person intercept and even US mail.  Fielding surveys using e-mail methodology with its immediacy and relatively low cost, offers the most potential for return on investment.   Historically, there have been legitimate concerns about the representativeness of sample selection using email.  However, as the incidence of email collection of banks increases, there is less concern about sample selection bias.

The process for fielding such surveys is fairly simple.  On a daily basis, a data file (in research parlance “sample”) is generated containing the customers who have completed a service interaction across any channel.  This data file should be deduped, cleaned against a do not contact list, and cleaned against customers who have been surveyed recently (typically three months depending on the channel).  At this point, if you were to send the survey invitations, the bank would quickly exhaust the sample, potentially running out of eligible customers for future surveys.   To avoid this, a target of the required number of completed surveys should be set per business unit, and a random selection process employed to select just enough customers to reach this target without surveying every customer. [1]

So what are some of the purposes banks use these surveys for?   Generally, they fall into a number of broad categories:

Post-Transaction: Teller & Contact Center: Post-transaction surveys are event-driven, where a transaction or service interaction determines if the customer is selected for a survey, targeting specific customers shortly after a service interaction.  As the name implies, the purpose of this type of survey is to measure satisfaction with a specific transaction.

New Account & On-Boarding:  New account surveys measure satisfaction with the account opening process, as well as determine the reasons behind new customers’ selection of the bank for a new deposit account or loan – providing valuable insight into new customer identification and acquisition.

Closed Account Surveys:  Closed account surveys identify sources of run-off or churn to provide insight into improving customer retention.

Call to Action

Research without a call to action may be informative, but not very useful.  Call to action elements should be built into research design, which provide a road map for clients to maximize the ROI on customer experience measurement.

Finally, post-transaction surveys support other behavioral research tools.  Properly designed surveys yield insight into customer expectations, which provide an opportunity for a learning feedback loop to support observational research, such as mystery shopping, where customer expectations are used to inform service standards which are in turn measured through mystery shopping.

For more posts in this series, click on the following links:

 

[1] Kinesis uses an algorithm which factors in the targeted quota, response rate, remaining days in the month and number of surveys completed to select just enough customers to reach the quota without exhausting the sample.


Click Here For More Information About Kinesis' Bank CX Research Services

Leverage Unrecognized Experts in the Customer Experience: Best Practices in Bank Customer Experience Measurement Design – Employee Surveys

Bank Employee Surveys

Frontline customer facing employees (tellers, platform, and contact center agents) are a vastly underutilized resource in terms of understanding the customer experience.  They spend the majority of their time in the customer-bank interface, and as a result tend to be unrecognized experts in the customer experience.

An excellent tool to both leverage this frontline experience and identify any perceptual gaps between management and the frontline is to survey all levels of the organization to gather impressions of the customer experience.  This survey can be fielded very efficiently with an online survey.

Typically, we start by asking employees to put themselves in the customers’ shoes and to ask how customers would rate their satisfaction with the customer experience, including specific dimensions and attributes of the experience.  A key call-to-action element of these surveys tends to be a question asking employees what they think customers most like or dislike about the service delivery.

Next we focus employees on their own experience, asking the extent to which they believe they have all the tools, training, processes, policies, customer information, coaching, staff levels, empowerment, and support of both their immediate supervisor and senior management to deliver on the company’s service promise.  Call-to-action elements can be designed into this portion of the research by asking what, in their experience, leads to customer frustration or disappointment, and soliciting suggestions for improvement.   Perhaps most interesting, we ask what are some of the strategies the employee uses to make customers happy.   This is an excellent source for identifying best practices and potential coaches.

Finally, comparing results across the organization identifies any perceptual gaps between the frontline and management.  This can be a very illuminating activity.

For more posts in this series, click on the following links:


Click Here For More Information About Kinesis' Employee Engagement Research

Drivers of Purchase Intent in the Contact Center Experience in Retail Banking

What impresses customers positively as a result of a call to your call center?

Call Center Mystery Shopping

To answer this question, Kinesis conducted research into the efficacy of the bank contact center sales process by observing a battery of sales and service behaviors through the use of mystery shoppers. The objective of this study was to identify which sales and service behaviors drive purchase intent. (See the insert below for a description of the methodology).

The table at the end of this post shows the relative frequency in which each behavior was observed in shops where the shopper reported positive purchase intent as a result of the call, compared to shops with negative purchase intent.

The seven behaviors with the strongest relationship to purchase intent are:

  • Invite to visit a branch
  • If on hold, thank for waiting
  • Express appreciation for interest/thank for business
  • Offer further assistance
  • Mention/refer to website
  • Listen attentively to your needs
  • Offer to send material

Each of these behaviors is at least three times more likely to be present in shops with positive purchase intent compared to those with negative purchase intent.

Two observations jump out from this first group of behaviors:

First, integration of other channels into the sales process appears to drive purchase intent. Inviting the shopper to visit a branch was observed 6.4 times more frequently in shops with positive purchase intent compared to negative. The branch still has a role in the sales process; other research consistently points to the convenience of branch location as a driver of selection of a primary financial institution. If contact centers leverage the branch during the sales process, they have a significantly better chance to advance the sale. Additionally, when the agent incorporated the website into the sales presentation, they also have a better chance of advancing the sale. Mentioning the website was 3.3 times more likely to be present in shops with positive purchase intent compared to negative.

Secondly, the balance of these key behaviors all revolve around personal attention (thank for waiting on hold, offing further assistance, listening attentively, offer to send material) and interest in the customer’s business (express appreciation or thank for business).

Nine more behaviors were at least twice as likely to be present in shops with positive purchase intent:

  • Product knowledge
  • Ask for name
  • Ask for your business/close the sale
  • If on hold, check back in 1 minute
  • When thanked respond graciously
  • Ask probing questions
  • Explanations easy to understand
  • Explain the value of banking with bank
  • Thank for calling

The themes most common in this second group of behaviors that appear to influence purchase intent are competence (product knowledge, easy to understand explanations), personal attention (asking name, checking back on hold, probing of needs) and interest in the customer’s business (ask for business, express value, thank for calling).

So…what drives purchase intent as a result of a call to a contact center? Integrating other channels into the conversation, and sincerely expressing interest in the customer broadly drive purchase intent.

Frequency Behavior Observed in Shops with Increased and Decreased Purchase Intent:

Increased Decreased
Invite to visit a branch 64% 10%
If on hold, thanked for waiting 97% 20%
Express appreciation for interest / thank you for business 92% 20%
Offer further assistance 85% 25%
Mention/refer to website 66% 20%
Listen attentively to your needs 80% 25%
Offer to send material 97% 31%
Product knowledge 98% 35%
Ask for name 68% 25%
Ask for your business/close the sale 76% 32%
If on hold, check back in 1 minute 94% 40%
When thanked respond graciously 98% 42%
Ask probing questions 94% 42%
Explanations easy to understand 99% 45%
Explain the value of banking with bank 88% 43%
Thank for calling 99% 50%
Friendly demeanor / pleasant voice 100% 60%
Clear Greeting 95% 60%
Avoid bank jargon 98% 68%
Use name 96% 67%
Mention other bank product 99% 75%
Good pace 98% 75%
Wait for response before placed on hold 100% 80%
Demonstrate understanding of question 100% 81%
Answered in 3 rings 99% 88%
Speak clearly 99% 88%
Professional Greeting 98% 89%
Avoid interrupting 100% 95%

 

Methodology

To evaluate the state of the in-branch sales process, Kinesis mystery shopped five banks with significant North American footprints. Among the objectives of the study were to:

1) Define the sales process among different institutions.

2) Evaluate the effectiveness of specific sales behaviors.

Shoppers were asked a mixture of closed-ended questions to evaluate the presence or frequency of specific behaviors, and open-ended questions to gather the qualitative impressions of these behaviors on the shoppers – in short the how and why behind how the shopper felt. Finally, to provide a basis to evaluate the effectiveness of each sales behavior, shoppers were asked to rate their purchase intent as a result of the visit. This purchase intent rating was then used as a means of evaluating what behaviors tend to be present when positive purchase intent is reported as opposed to negative purchase intent.


Click Here For More Information About Kinesis'; Bank Mystery Shopping

Turning Customer Advocacy on Its Head

The dominate notion of customer advocacy is not very customer centric. Its focus is on what the customer can do for the bank by referring friends, relatives, and colleagues for their banking needs. A more customer centric notion, with perhaps a stronger relationship to customer loyalty, turns this dominate notion on its head – making the bank an advocate on behalf of the customer. Customers who trust their bank to do the right thing are more likely to remain loyal.

My bank cares about me not just bottom line

Measuring customer advocacy is both simple and useful; just ask your customers if they agree with the following statement: “My bank cares about me, not just the bottom line.” I call this the customer advocacy statement. Research has demonstrated a positive relationship between agreement with this statement and loyalty to a financial institution. This makes intuitive sense; customers who agree trust the bank to do right by them and will remain loyal.

Here is how we ask the question. As part of a broader survey, we ask our clients’ customers to rate, on an agreement scale, to what extent they agree with the above statement.

Research without clear call to action elements may be interesting, but not very useful. How can a manager put this question to use?

The answer to this is two fold:

First, the response to this question can be correlated to a battery of service attributes. This will yield a means of judging the relative importance of each attribute in terms of the strength of their relationship to loyalty. Mangers now have a basis to make informed decisions as to which investments will yield the most ROI in terms of improving customer loyalty.

Second, investigate all cases where agreement to this question is low. These are customers at risk. A researcher can drill into the survey responses of these customers to determine what caused the low rating. Tracking the causes will inform management of potential causes of runoff that require attention.


Click Here For More Information About Kinesis' Research Services

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words: A Simple and Elegant Tool Determines How Customers Perceive Your Brand

The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.
– Socrates

Brands have personality. Brand personality is a set of characteristics associated with the positioning, products, price and service mix offered by a company.

How would you describe your brand?

I’m often surprised how often clients are unable to answer this simple question. Even those who have a defined set of brand characteristics don’t know to what extent customers’ perceptions of the brand match the bank’s defined brand. Often what is needed is a cold hard look in the mirror to determine how they are perceived by their customers. What brand personality does our customer experience create in our customer’s minds?

As often in life, the best solutions to a given problem are in fact very simple. One simple and elegant tool is to ask customers to describe your customer experience with just one word.

A picture is worth a thousand words. When we asked a bank’s customers to describe the customer experience with one word the results produced the following word cloud:

Adjectives

With one simple question, we produced a simple and elegant depiction of how customers perceive the brand as a result of a recent experience.

This cold hard look in mirror can be painful; certainly it is tough to hear, as in the case above, that some of your customers might consider you disappointing, indifferent or pushy.  But once you determine how you are perceived, you can figure out how you want to be perceived, and begin addressing any gaps between the two.


Click Here For More Information About Kinesis' Research Services

It’s Personal: Drivers of Positive Impressions of the Branch Experience

What impresses customers positively as a result of a visit to your branch?

To answer this and other questions, Kinesis conducted research into the efficacy of the branch sales process and identified several service and sales attributes that drive purchase intent.  (See the insert below of a description of the methodology).

In our observational research of 100 retail banking presentations, mystery shoppers were asked to describe what impressed them positively as a result of the visit to the branch.   Excluding the branch atmosphere, the five most common themes contained in these open-ended comments were:

  • Attentive to Needs/ Interest in Helping/ Personalized Service,
  • Professional/ Courteous/ Not Pushy, Positive Greeting,
  • Friendly Employees, and
  • Rep. Product Knowledge/ Informative/ Confidence in Rep.

In an effort to understand the relative importance of these behaviors in driving purchase intent, shoppers were asked to rate their purchase intent, as a result of the presentation, as if they had been an actual customer.  Shops were then grouped into those with positive and negative purchase intent and compared to each other.

Of these drivers of a positive impression, three have positive relationships to purchase intent – they tend to be present with greater frequency in shops with positive purchase intent compared to those with negative purchase intent.

 

Reason for Positive Purchase Intent

Relative Frequency Positive to Negative Purchase Intent

Rep. Product Knowledge/ Informative/ Confidence in Rep.

2.7

Attentive to Needs/ Interest in Helping/ Personalized Service

2.5

Friendly Employee

2.3

The banker’s product knowledge was present 2.7 times more frequent in shops with positive purchase intent relative to shops with negative purchase intent.  Similarly, attention to needs and personalized service was present 2.5 times more in shops with positive purchase intent compared to those with negative purchase intent.  Finally, shoppers were 2.3 times more likely to cite the friendliness of the bankers in shops with positive purchase intent relative to negative.

The observations contained within this research are not rocket science.  What customers want, what drives purchase intent, is personal: attention to needs, interest in helping, personalized service, professional, courteous and friendly encounters.

Methodology

To evaluate the state of the in-branch sales process, Kinesis mystery shopped 100 branches among five banks with significant North American footprints.  Among the objectives of the study were to:

1) Define the sales process among different institutions.

2) Evaluate the effectiveness of specific sales behaviors.

Shoppers were asked a mixture of closed-ended questions to evaluate the presence or frequency of specific behaviors, and open-ended questions to gather the qualitative impressions of these behaviors on the shoppers – in short the how and why behind how the shopper felt.  Finally, to provide a basis to evaluate the effectiveness of each sales behavior, shoppers were asked to rate their purchase intent as a result of the visit. This purchase intent rating was then used as a means of evaluating what behaviors tend to be present when positive purchase intent is reported as opposed to negative purchase intent.


Click Here For More Information About Kinesis'; Bank Mystery Shopping

It’s Personal: Retail Banking Sales and Closing Behaviors That Drive Purchase Intent

There is continued discussion about the branch’s role in the future of banking.  The current consensus is it will continue to evolve from a transactional center to a sales center.  Banking is a professional service.  To avoid commoditization and selling on features other than rates and fees, a professional and effective sales process is required.

Our research into the efficacy of the branch sales process has identified several service and sales attributes that drive purchase intent.  (See the insert below for a description of the methodology).

This article focuses specifically on closing behaviors, attempting to identify best practices in terms of driving purchase intent.

In short, for closing behaviors to be effective, the banker must first demonstrate competence and sincere concern for the customer’s best interests and needs.  Closing behaviors without this predicate can be very dangerous to the sale.

What are the most common closing behaviors?

In our observational research of 100 retail banking presentations, key closing and presentation behaviors were observed in approximately two thirds of the sales presentation.

Express interest in your business or make feel valued as a customer

70%

Ask for the business or some commitment to action

70%

Discuss products in terms of benefits designed to meet needs

68%

Make comment expressing value of banking with the bank

63%

Asking for the business and making the shopper feel valued as a customer were the most common, followed closely by discussing products in terms of benefits designed to meet needs, and finally by expressing the value of banking with the bank.

Which behaviors are most effective?

To answer which of these four behaviors are most effective, let’s look at their relationship to the mystery shoppers purchase intent as a result of the sales presentation.

Closing Chart 1

Of these four behaviors, expressing interest or making the customer feel valued as a customer has the strongest relationship to purchase intent. This behavior was present 3.6 times more frequent in shops with positive purchase intent relative to those with negative purchase intent.

What drives feeling valued as a customer?

Now, let’s take a look at the most significant behavior.  What drives feeling valued as a customer?  What caused shoppers to feel valued?  To gain insight into this, Kinesis asked shoppers an open-ended question regarding how the banker expressed interest in their business.  An analysis of the responses to this question is instructive.

When these responses are grouped by theme they generally group into four themes:

Closing Chart 2

Looking at these comments with respect to whether or not the shopper reported positive purchase intent, two of these themes have a positive relationship to purchase intent: personal attention (45% for positive purchase intent compared to 0% for negative) and concern for needs (43% in shops with positive purchase intent compared to 11% for shops with negative purchase intent).

Comments with POSITIVE relationship to purchase intent.
How expressed interest/Made feel valued as customer…

Positive Purchase Intent

Negative Purchase Intent

Personal/ Full Attention/ Not Rushed

45%

0%

Sincere/ Best interests in mind/ Concern for needs

43%

11%

The other two behaviors have a negative relationship to purchase intent. One of these is both significant and instructive.

Comments with NEGATIVE relationship to purchase intent.
How expressed interest/made feel valued as customer…

Positive Purchase Intent

Negative Purchase Intent

Offer to open account/ Effort to get business

6%

61%

Informative/ Answered questions

17%

50%

A more overt effort to get the business, including opening the account, was present ten times more often in shops with negative purchase intent (61%) compared to positive purchase intent (6%).  An effort to ask for the business without appearing to have the customer’s best interests in mind or giving the customer personal attention will not drive purchase intent.  While asking for the business is an important part of any professional sales presentation, when doing so, the ground needs to be prepared by making the customer feel you have their best interests in mind.  Otherwise, the banker can seriously undermine the presentation.

As branches continue to evolve from a transactional to a sales center, it is important not to divorce service from sales.  Good sales is good service.  The sales behavior with the strongest relationship to purchase intent is expressing interest in the customer and making them feel valued.  The most effective way to make customers feel valued and interested is to provide them your full attention and sincerely demonstrate concern for the customers needs and best interests.

Visit the next article in this series.   Beyond Needs Analysis: Asking Motivation Questions to Drive Purchase Intenthttp://bit.ly/11sK9vG

 

———–

Methodology

To evaluate the state of the in-branch sales process, Kinesis mystery shopped 100 branches among five banks with significant North American footprints.  Among the objectives of the study were to:

1) Define the sales process among different institutions.

2) Evaluate the effectiveness of specific sales behaviors.

Shoppers were asked a mixture of closed-ended questions to evaluate the presence or frequency of specific behaviors, and open-ended questions to gather the qualitative impressions of these behaviors on the shoppers – in short the how and why behind what the shopper felt.  Finally, to provide a basis to evaluate the effectiveness of each sales behavior, shoppers were asked to rate their purchase intent as a result of the visit. This purchase intent rating was then used as a means of evaluating what behaviors tend to be present when positive purchase intent is reported as opposed to negative purchase intent.

 


Click Here For More Information About Kinesis'; Bank Mystery Shopping

Beyond Needs Analysis: Asking Motivation Questions to Drive Purchase Intent

Effective profiling of customers has long been considered a key component of any sales process. Questioning customers is commonly referred to as needs analysis as many questions revolve around client needs, but how effective are needs questions in the efficacy of a sales presentation? Our research suggests the ROI potential of moving probing beyond basic needs analysis and including a different type of question – one designed to get at client motivations – not just needs.

shutterstock_130170563

To evaluate the state of the in-branch sales process, Kinesis mystery shopped 100 branches among five banks sharing national service areas. Among the objectives of the study were to:

1) Define the sales process among different institutions, and

2) Evaluate the effectiveness of specific sales behaviors.

Shoppers were asked a mixture of closed-ended questions to evaluate the presence of specific behaviors, and open-ended questions to gather the qualitative impressions of these behaviors on the shoppers – in short, the how and why behind how the shoppers felt. Finally, to provide a basis for an evaluation of the effectiveness of each sales behavior, shoppers were asked to rate their purchase  intent as a result of the visit. This purchase intent rating provides a means of evaluating what behaviors tend to be present when positive purchase intent is reported as opposed to negative purchase intent, revealing which sales behaviors have the most ROI potential in terms of driving purchase intent.

10 Most Frequent Probing Questions

In order to evaluate the profiling process, shoppers recorded what profiling questions were asked of them as part of the sales presentation.

The table on the third page of this article displays the frequency in which 29 different questions were asked as part of the sales presentation. Of the ten most frequently asked profiling questions, eight asked about the customers’ needs or
situation.

The subject matter of these eight needs/situation questions were:

– Service interested in
– Other banking relationships
– Current banking products
– Employment status/situation
– Nature of online banking use
– Nature of savings accounts held
– Nature ATM use
– Credit card use

Another of the ten most frequently asked questions asked about the purpose of the account.

The remaining question in this top ten is far more interesting. Two-thirds of the bankers asked about the customers’ expectations of a bank or what are they looking from a bank.

While we have observed that nine out of the ten most common profiling questions either ask about the purpose of the account or the customers’ needs/situation, with one question about the customers’ expectations, the question remains, what are the most effective profiling questions?

10 Most Effective Probing Questions

In addition to the frequency with which questions were asked, the table at the conclusion of this article also displays the strength of the relationship of each probing question to the presentation’s purchase intent rating. The strength of the relationship to purchase intent is expressed as the ratio of the presence of each question in presentations with positive purchase intent to those with negative purchase intent. A ratio of 2.0 means the specific question was asked twice as often in shops with positive purchase intent compared to those with negative purchase intent.

Looking at the ten probing questions with the strongest relationship to purchase intent, only four ask about customer needs/situation:

– Nature of telephone banking use
– Co-account holders
– Number of checks written
– Past banking products/services

Another three ask about balances:

– Average checking balance
– Average savings balances
– Minimum checking balance

And three more ask an importance or motivation question:

– What do you like about your bank?
– What don’t you like about your bank?
– What are your expectations from a bank?

While only one importance/motivation question is in the top 10 in terms of frequency asked, three of these questions are in the top 10 in terms of their relationship to purchase intent.

A client of mine calls these importance/motivation questions, “high-gain questions.” High-gain questions are questions designed to get to the clients’ motivations – what drives them? What do they want from a bank?

What do you like about your bank?” – was present a whopping 6.2 times more frequently in shops with positive purchase intent relative to negative purchase intent.

What are your expectations of a bank?” – was asked 3.1 times more in shops with positive purchase intent.

What don’t you like about your bank?” – was asked 2.8 times more in shops with positive purchase intent.

These and others like them are extremely powerful questions, in effect asking the customer to tell the banker what they want in a banking relationship, providing a road map for the sales presentation. In fact, our research indicates the most effective sales presentations were built around responses to these high-gain questions.

These observations suggest asking prospective customers high-gain questions to identify their motivations and building a sales presentation around customer motivations will yield a greater ROI in terms of driving purchase intent.

Question

Frequency Asked

Effectiveness*

Services are you interested in

93%

1.1

Where do you currently bank/other banking relationships

82%

1.1

Current banking products/services

73%

1.9

Your employment status/situation

68%

1.1

Purpose of the account (personal, household, business)

68%

1.6

Your expectations of a bank / What are you looking for in a bank?

67%

3.1

The nature of your online/Internet banking use

65%

1.5

Savings Accounts

65%

1.7

The nature of your ATM use

58%

1.9

Credit cards

55%

1.3

Minimum checking account balance typically carried

52%

2.8

The nature of your mobile/smart phone banking use

50%

1.6

Average checking account balance carried

50%

3.4

What don’t you like about your bank

42%

1.9

Do you like loyalty programs that offer points or awards for use of such things as credit or debit cards

42%

2.8

Past banking products/services

40%

2.7

Nature of debit card use at retailers

38%

1.8

Your family status (married, single, children, etc)

38%

1.9

Will there be any co-account holders (such as a spouse or child)

37%

7.1

What do you like about your bank

35%

6.2

Short term financial goals

33%

2.7

CDs (Certificate of Deposit)

32%

1.1

Typical savings account balance

32%

3.9

Long term financial goals (retirement, college for kids, etc)

32%

2.1

Number of checks you write

27%

3.0

Mortgages

23%

0.9

Investments other than savings, CDs or money market accounts (investments such as Mutual Funds, IRA, Stocks, Bonds).

23%

1.8

Telephone banking

22%

8.0

Car loans

18%

2.1

10 Most FREQUENTLY ASKED Probing Questions
Services are you interested in

93%

Where do you currently bank/other banking relationships

82%

Current banking products/services

73%

Your employment status/situation

68%

Purpose of the account (personal, household, business)

68%

Your expectations of a bank / What are you looking for in a bank?

67%

The nature of your online/Internet banking use

65%

Savings Accounts

65%

The nature of your ATM use

58%

Credit cards

55%

10 Most EFFECTIVE Probing Questions**
Telephone banking

8.0

Will there be any co-account holders (such as a spouse or child)

7.1

What do you like about your bank

6.2

Typical savings account balance

3.9

Average checking account balance carried

3.4

Your expectations of a bank / What are you looking for in a bank?

3.1

Number of checks you write

3.0

Minimum checking account balance typically carried

2.8

Do you like loyalty programs that offer points or awards for use of such things as credit or debit cards

2.8

Past banking products/services

2.7

* Effectiveness defined by ratio of the frequency the question is asked in shops with positive purchase intent relative to the frequency in shops with negative purchase intent (for example a value of 2.0 means the question is twice as likely to be asked in shops with positive purchase intent relative to those with negative purchase intent.

** Probing questions with the strongest relationship to purchase intent, again defined by the ratio of their frequency in shops with positive purchase intent compared to those with negative purchase intent.

For more information contact Eric Larse, co-founder of Seattle-based Kinesis, which helps companies plan and execute their customer experience strategies. Mr. Larse can be reached at elarse@kinesis-cem.com.


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