Serving financial institutions is about understanding the needs of this unique market. It’s also about relationships, and knowing what each customer expects. To some degree, no two institutions are alike, but they all share a need for two things; responsiveness, and fair treatment. Here are 5 ways service providers can deliver on these two key needs.
1. Serve the customer. Not the stockholder.
This is job 1. Growth and survival in a vertical market comes by way of understanding who you serve. It’s not a short term thing. When an independent company not only survives, but flourishes, in what some believe to be a down market, there’s a reason. And that reason is; that they clearly understand who they serve. Conversely, when a company continues to reduce it’s ability to deliver its services, by way of downsizing its service resources, while the demand for service in it’s industry continues to foster growth for competitors, it raises the question of; to whom that company answers.
2. Let The Customer Set The Standard.
Customers expect satisfaction. At the end of the day, delivering satisfaction is all that matters. The customer should always set the standard for what is regarded as satisfactory. If the customer is not satisfied, simply put; the job’s not done.
3. Be Transparent.
Transparency is not limited to the seamless manner in which a service provider supports the customer. A service provider must also be transparent in how it deals with each individual. Make decisions about how the customer should be treated as though the customer, itself, were in the room and part of the decision making process. Be above board. No hidden fees. No tricky clauses. If a service provider must use these methods to keep a customer, then it would appear that the provider is already anticipating failure, and/or at the very least, a dissatisfied customer.
4. Be a Resource. Provide Solutions.
Don’t sell. Serve. Customers want information. Customers want delivery. Customers want their problems solved. These are very basic needs, and understanding them is not hard. When needs develop, customer’s have the right to expect a service provider to respond with appropriate urgency. And only in responding, are we a resource.
A service provider should never tailor a customer’s needs to fit what they can provide. A service provider is only solving a problem when it fully understands the needs of the customer and provides the exact, and best, available solution.
5. Communicate Always.
Building long term customer relationships is about communication. Not just during the sales process, but every day. Inspect for what you expect. More importantly, inspect for what the customer expects. We’re all customers on some level. We certainly know what we expect from those who provide for us. Communication is the key to knowing what is expected. Customers should be continually surveyed for what they expect and need. And then receive nothing less. Service providers should continually seek to find out how the customer feels about the job they’re doing; finding out where & how they can improve. And then, most importantly, they must listen and respond.
Jim Peebles, General Sales Manager, Smith Hamilton