Proactive Contact Management

By Tammy LoCascio, EVP, Consumer Banking, First Tennessee Bank [NYSE:FHN]

Tammy LoCascio, EVP, Consumer Banking, First Tennessee Bank [NYSE:FHN]

Sales leaders across industries know that variance in productivity across the workforce is a constant challenge. Whether quartiled, deciled, or illustrated any number of ways, the challenge is how to bring average and lower performing sales people closer to top performers. Gallup tells us that managers alone account for up to 70 percent of the variance in staff engagement levels, but what part can corporate strategy play in tightening the deviation between top and bottom?

This challenge has been uniquely interesting for retail bankers in recent years, due to rapid shifts in customer behaviors that introduce change as an additional factor in the equation. Since 2012, teller transactions are down more than 20 percent, while new account openings have increased over the same time period. Customers are bypassing branches for simple transaction needs in favor of mobile and online banking channels, while still relying on the branch network for more complex interactions.

"Prioritization of individual customers is both a science and an art, is continuously evolving, and requires different approaches depending on the line of business"

In spite of this movement, First Tennessee strives to provide a superior customer experience as we’ve done for over 150 years, while also understanding ongoing customer needs and growing those relationships.

As a result of these changes in behaviors, we need proactive interactions - often by phone or online – with the customers we see less. When we assessed these challenges and looked at performance variance, we found a differentiator in how our sales force spent their time in these activities. Bankers and their front line leaders were spending significant time planning and preparing for outbound calls to customers, rather than efficiently making those calls. We introduced a number of analytical tools in the background to remedy this time drain. We could fairly classify the assistance provided as:

• Time Management
• Customer Selection
• Call Preparation

Time Management

While branch and staff consolidation has been a part of strategic planning for several years due to diminishing customer traffic, there is a minimum number of FTE required to operate any given branch. First Tennessee decided to automate the staff planning process in response to this. But rather than building an engine merely to match employees to work schedules, we went a step further. We wanted to help our employees understand what to do with that time.

After intensive study, we launched an engine created by Kiran Analytics that we branded internally as SmartShift. Using this solution, a branch manager can match staff needs to both walk-in traffic and proactive customer contact demand. Once a schedule is set, employees know in any given hour whether they are scheduled for receiving inbound customers, making outbound phone calls, or doing business development outside the branch.

The implementation enabled us to shrink network operating hours by 11 percent and to decrease 80 percent of retail staff overtime. In addition, we are now enabled with a prediction solution that will allow us to plan for customer needs to guarantee standardized service coverage and build programming to utilize an average of nine hours of non-customer facing time per branch per day. These non-customer facing hours are specifically being used for proactive outbound customer acquisition activities.

Customer Selection

In considering customer selection, we looked at two questions in progression. Based on the makeup of the branch and its geographical area, what groups of customers do we most need to touch in the contact management plan? For some neighborhoods, the answer may be heavily weighted to small business customers, while at others it may be high-potential wealth or digital utilization. Once that grouping is determined, the next step is prioritizing customers within that group.

For the macro question of customer group identification, we turned to fair share analysis. This data contains the total volume (deposits, loans, investments, etc.) available in the branch vicinity and our current share held. Armed with that information, each manager understands where our strengths and weaknesses lie, and can plan proactive activities around filling those gaps.  

Prioritization of individual customers is both a science and an art, is continuously evolving, and requires different approaches depending on the line of business. But how we provide the information to sales force can be consistent. They don’t need to know the formulas that run in the background. What they need to know is who their 10 most important contacts are today. We provide that through a numerical scoring system that is consistent across all call types.

Call Preparation

Relationship bankers need to be knowledgeable and confident when they make a proactive call to a customer. They want information on the current relationship, a number datapoints, the next most likely need of the customer, and the best questions available for a quality conversation.

In the past our employees might have to access a number of screens to gather that information and feel prepared to pick up the phone. As often happens, we don’t always reach the customer in any given attempt, and the pre-call effort was significantly more time-consuming than the call itself. Then, when the banker went back to that lead, most of the time they had to start the review process again.

This was a process that had to be simplified in order to increase both efficiency and call quality. To accomplish this, we built a dashboard that gives bankers the information they need on one screen. It was important to house this inside our CRM to allow for easy dispositioning of calls and entering information and follow-up. The dashboard also contains customer marketing offers, and we continue to add content as we measure results and understand the needs of our sales force.

The result of these measures has been added clarity and accountability for all of our retail bankers. When we execute well in the use of these tools and processes, they know how their time will be spent each day, which customers they need to contact, and how to quickly prepare for a quality call.

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