MADISON, Wis. (5/22/14)--Credit unions must become familiar with the characteristics of the best account representatives and tellers to improve their organization's sales and service cultures, and shape their hiring, training and performance expectations around those attributes, according to a new white paper from the Filene Research Institute.
"Attributes and Skills of High-Performing Sales and Service Staff," written by credit union sales and service consultant Michael Neill, draws on a study of 4,667 credit union service representatives in which the top 20% of performers were identified with a minimum of eight shopping experiences.
"Credit unions will attract, retain, and improve superior member-facing employees only to the extent that they strengthen the several mechanisms they have for interacting with those employees," the report advises. The mechanisms include:
Hiring. Credit unions shouldn't simply hire "people persons," but look for look for employees who pick up on behavioral cues, ask good questions, and listen with ears attuned to finding solutions, the report advised. "What's important is what your employees do and the skills they exhibit when they are with members," the report said.
Training. Don't train employees on how to "do their job" with only operational behaviors, adding sales and service behaviors later. This requires employees to relearn their job, so to speak. Such relearning is like trying to learn a second language as an adult instead of learning it naturally, within the culture, over time. In such cases, employees will have a tendency to see sales and service behaviors as secondary to operational training; after all, the organization is signaling that sales and service behaviors are secondary due to their positioning in the training progression.
Coaching. Reading recipes for healthy foods and watching exercise videos won't make you lose weight, so don't assume that training alone will shape the right behaviors, the report said. Modeling good sales behavior, reinforcing good practices and critiquing bad ones are all essential to building the right sales and service culture.
Managing. The best sales and service employees have plenty of options, and they will leave managers who don't lead well. Include them in decision making, give them appropriate autonomy, and reward them not just for results but for the behaviors that lead to results, the report said. High performers in credit union selling are more likely to be turned on by how much they helped than achieving goals. Make sure management language reflects this desire.
To download the report, use the link.