We are in an environment of rising interest rates that will materially impact how financial institutions compete for customers. Banks and credit unions will have to embrace product innovation and relationship building as they refocus on deposit and lending services. Customer engagement will play a critical role in this change, as customers will need guidance on new products and benefits while in-person branch visits become key to establishing customer relationships.
When we dig into the mechanisms behind how customer engagement leads to revenue, we start with how customers progress through sales stages. There are various models and stage labels, but they all have one thing in common: the customer has some sort of informational or emotional need that must be fulfilled before they advance to the next stage. The customer may be able to fulfill this need on their own through means such as independent research. However, brand engagement fills those needs faster, more accurately, and more completely. This is why engagement drives larger transactions and decreases time to transaction.
Let’s explore 5 recommendations for driving revenue through quality customer engagements:
1. Target Your Engagement and Provide Options.
The fundamentals of delivering the right message, to the right person, at the right time is an important aspect of a customer engagement strategy focused on revenue growth. The focus should be on what constitutes the ‘right’ target and the variables to reach those targets. The ‘right’ engagement is the one most likely to advance a customer along the buying journey. Early in the process, engagements focused on product demonstrations or interactive group events provide customers the information they need to feel confident in their research. Later in the funnel, engagements become more personalized as your customers’ needs become more refined. In this phase, 1:1 instructional lessons, personal appointments with product specialists or focus product tests (e.g. test driving a car), could be leveraged for customers with increased enthusiasm.
2. Treat human-to-human interaction as a high value conversion event.
“Always be closing” is a common motivational phrase in sales, but that doesn’t mean high-pressure tactics are always appropriate. Rather, the goal should be to move the customer toward a decision, even if that entails multiple interactions along the way. A one-to-many event or one-to-one appointment has higher value both to the customer and the brand because it provides more personalized and relevant insights that a customer needs in order to advance along the sales cycle.
3. Think of staff as both a revenue generating resource and a customer service resource.
A well-trained, motivated staff combine product knowledge and enthusiasm; they are your best option for advancing customers along a sales path. When you acknowledge how powerful a connection with your staff can be, you will want to set up as many engagements for them as possible while at the same time reducing their administrative burden. Real-time calendar updates, schedule visualization, intuitive data entry, and automated confirmation and reminder messages increase staff engagement capacity. Reminders for staff are just as important as reminders for customers; be sure that reminders are part of existing workflows and they contain the necessary information for appointment prep.
4. Provide staff with directional intelligence before, during, and after engagement.
Customer engagement for revenue necessitates that the staff:
- Has information on the people they speak to
- Understands what information needs to be provided to move them to the next step in the sales cycle
- Has the ablity to easily collect information over the course of the engagement.
Information such as demographic data, sales history, engagement history, and customer service inquiries can all help staff paint a holistic picture of the customer. Often this information exists in disparate systems. When these systems can communicate into a centralized hub, the better prepared a staff member can be.
For example, when opening an account with a new customer, a bank representative can make observations and ask a few basic questions that determine customer needs. Young customers who are new to the area and have recently bought a home are more likely to have a family or be planning to start one than seniors. They are good candidates for auto and home equity loans and college savings plans. Older customers, on the other hand, are more likely to be interested in managing retirement funds or estate planning. Representatives should be trained to guide the conversation in the most appropriate direction based on observed and expressed needs.
5. Use engagements as intelligence for personalization.
Each engagement is an opportunity to further target the customer experience. Engagement can be used to ‘bucket’ customers according to appropriate next steps. That next step often includes a call to action for a sale but should also include additional calls to engagement. Customer engagement for revenue improves sales velocity not simply because engaged customers are more likely to purchase, but also because it recognizes that customers must be given the option to engage with the brand when it is most convenient for them, and as many times as they need, in order to convert to a sale.