Banks want to cross-sell. We know that the concept of cross-sell makes sense. You present relevant cross-sell product offers to your most valuable customers, the customers accept, you capture a greater share of the customers’ wallets and increase their loyalty to your institution. It makes perfect sense … in theory.
The problem is that in practice, cross-sell doesn’t always work as well as we think it should. The success of cross-sell, particularly in person-person interactions (in branches and call centers), depends on how cross-sell is implemented. If the implementation is lacking, banks cross-sell strategies can get bogged in a vicious circle. Here’s an example:
- A financial institution (FI) decides to aggressively implement a cross-sell initiative across all of their branches and call centers.
- A customer service representative (CSR) working at one of the FI’s branches hops on board the new initiative, but with some reluctance because he is not a trained salesman.
- The CSR enthusiastically offers a generic cross-sell offer to one of the FI’s customers (“would you like a credit card with that?”).
- The FI’s customer politely turns down the offer because she is not interested in the generic cross-sell offer (“no thanks!”).
*Repeat steps 3 and 4 with no variations a couple hundred times.
- The CSR, convinced that they are about to be turned down again, reluctantly offers the customer the same generic cross-sell offer (“do you want a credit card?”).
- The customer, frustrated that the FI clearly does not know what they want, angrily turns down the cross-sell offer again (“NO! I don’t want a credit card!”).
Let’s break this example down. It starts off good. The FI commits itself to implementing cross-sell in all of its branches and call centers. The CSR, willing to try, starts cross-selling the banks products without much success. Fast forward a couple months without any changes in cross-sell tactics and the situation has spiraled down into a disaster. The CSR is so depressed at being forced to make these futile cross-sell offers that he starts googling “I want to work at a bank with no cross selling” in his off time. The customer is angry at the FI for their constant and irrelevant cross-sell offers. The FI is frustrated because they have sunk a huge amount of resources into this cross-sell initiative and their only return is a decrease in customer satisfaction and employee engagement.
The thing to remember in this hypothetical example is that the CSR didn’t start off being cynical about cross-sell and the customer didn’t start off prejudiced against the very idea of being presented with a cross-sell offer. All of that only happened after a couple hundred iterations of asking the CSR to present the same generic, irrelevant and redundant cross-sell offer to the customer. So how could the FI have prevented this negative cross-sell spiral? By giving all of their CSR the tools they need to make cross-sell offers that thrill their customers.
What if the CSR in this example had access to a cross-sell solution that incorporated predictive analytics, instant prescreen, and sales scripting? Well, then the CSR could have instantly prescreened the customer the moment she stepped up to the teller window. This instant prescreen process would have given the CSR a list of the bank products that the customer is pre-approved for in real time. The list would be prioritized based on predictive analytics that determined which products the customer is most likely to accept. The CSR would then be presented with sales scripting—predefined language and wording to help them verbally present the offer in the most effective way possible.
If the CSR had access to a sophisticated cross-sell solution, the cross-sell pitch would have sounded something like this—“I see that you recently co-signed a student loan for your son, would you be interested in hearing about our co-signed student credit card as well? Because you have been with us for the last 17 years and have been such a loyal customer we can offer you a $2000 credit limit with 0% APR for the first year and 11.99% APR after that.”
Cross-sell strategies always sound good in theory, but how those strategies are implemented determines how well they work in practice. There is opportunity to step out of the vicious circle of generic cross-sell and engage both CSRs and customers in a more pleasing and profitable interaction.