Friday, 25 May 2012

The best ideas come from the top.

It seemed like a brilliant idea for the bank. The managers had racked their brains to find a way to sell more financial products, but they had finally cracked it.

The background was that the last quarter's sales figures were less than impressive and Head Office wasn't happy. ISAs, postal accounts, loans, insurance and pensions had all taken a tumble. 'We need to sell these products when customers are thinking about money. So give us your best ideas' said the memo.

Over a lunchtime brainstorming session replete with bottled water and one attendee's reflective guitar piece, the plan was hatched. 'From now on, bank tellers will be expected to sell directly to walk-in customers. Given that they will be thinking about money in the middle of a transaction, it's the best time to make a sale.' Head Office was filled in with all the details of what they did to arrive at the new scheme and approved the plan.

It took a few months, but all teller staff were duly trained in the features and benefits of a range of financial products. Memory aids were positioned within the easy reach of each of them as a back-up should they forget. IT ensured that monthly payment and APR information was accessible from every teller's computer terminal. As the system went live, the branch managers rubbed their hands together with glee, revelling in the prospect of income from the erstwhile expensive human cashpoints becoming a welcome addition to the sales force.

A few months later, another e-mail was despatched from Head Office: 'while the sales figures relating to teller staff are promising, customer services has noted a sharp increase in teller transaction times and customer complaints of delays and mis-selling. Given that the training issues have been addressed, we hope that branch managers will resolve this and deliver a winning formula to improve the level of sales while maintaining the highest standards of customer service from their tellers. We do realise that to develop a better plan, you will need more resources and we are committed to providing them'. An hour later, two cases of Evian and the Paul Simon song-book arrived at each branch.