BLOG: The Eagles Nest


Most FI products are looked at as commodities and most compete as if they are just that by pushing rates and related fees.

This philosophy shows a lack of customer focus differentiation and minimizes the value of any intangibles and relationships.

Customer-sensitive creativity takes a real mix of marketing efforts and research which some fail to do or simply don't want to be bothered.

There needs to be flexible,menu oriented value propositions which integrate options for each customer to customize a solution to fit individual needs and steer the decision away from a rate or fee comparison. These personalized propositions can be offered thru any channel and readily synchronize with digital preferences.

There are many methodologies available to assist an FI in creating the proper offer dynamics. If you have experiences with segmented focus groups, customers can and are usually willing to contribute, test and verify the best of breed packaging.

Some techniques are not suited to design development and can be misleading e.g. short tele-research calls.

Start with the customers preferences and conclude with their endorsements.

Pat Palmer | Friday, October 19, 2018 | Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Articles appear regularly proposing how to increase sales in one channel or another based on the writers' experiences which may or may not be relevant for every FI or any for that matter. The first rule in selling is to know your customer/prospect. In other words your strategy has to be customer-centric and cater to evolving preferences and experiences. Contemporary customer channel preference research and segment profitability analyses are where we should start and hopefully your culture promotes an omni-channel collaboration and not channel competitions. As far as the customers are concerned, they control channel choices and they use multiple resources to do their research/comparisons. They are more technologically and financially literate than any previous era plus they have the ability to integrate/aggregate various suppliers they decide to deal with.

Consequently, the customer experience/sale begins with the customer not a specific channel or product. In most cases, the FI has only a few inter personal contacts if any over a year so FIs have to be on customers' radar not reactive at channel touch-points.

More work has to be invested in research and building share of mind with customers and prospects early in their experience spaces.

Pat Palmer | Thursday, October 18, 2018 | Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

 Where does your organization stand or hide when it comes to small business? Are you a competitive force or a passive political player? As I resident in a agri-rural community I see personal banking stores which milk this segment of profitable financial services but when it comes to small business most refer the prospects to their web sites or regional centres which don't normally visit our communities unless the requests are of more substantial amounts. 

Truly there is a vacuum of financing support which doesn't seem to concern the traditional lenders which are solely profit driven not customer-centric.

Alternatives are popping up in the form of micro-financing/innovation centre and social financing which is showing an ability to find the under-served. One of the new entrants is the Fair Financing Fund in Ontario which is targeting loans of $25000 to $75000 for farm projects similar to FarmWorks Investment Co-operative Limited in Nova Scotia. Local residents are paying attention to these and other initiatives. Do an Internet search and see other solutions in the marketplace. Concurrently, online personal banking options are gaining individuals' banking as they see more social financing possibilities and their traditional loyalties therefore are being eroded.

Pat Palmer | Monday, October 15, 2018 | Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Relationships/customer experiences are built on many foundation corner stones and one of the most important is mutual trust. This invisible bond also brings with it expected obligations on both sides.

Sometimes FI's need wake-up calls when complacency sets in and assistance becomes too reactive and the customers are not receiving proactive advice that will benefit their financial well being. The current atmosphere of potential rate increases is a classic crossroad in customer experiences. Some customers are thinking, "What should I do if interest rates are poised to go up?".  How does it affect my borrowing and investment costs? Perhaps there are options to fix a mortgage rate or take on an early renewal at a blended rate. If there are core borrowings on credit cards, the home equity line of credit offers an economical solution. Does my FI offer an aggregation account through which my borrowings and daily surplus deposits are netted for optimum cash management? If you don't others do and a simple click and search will lead customers to the options. A similar philosophy can be applied to investments. Some, FI's may take the low road and try to keep quiet to protect current revenue streams and not cannibalize them-ouch!

The obvious warning flag for us in assessing FI's depth of proactive relationship management relates to account service charges and efforts to recommend the most economical package proactively. Great FI's offer online, contact centre and in-store advice on how to save a person from the nickel and dime torture that can befall them unexpectedly. Otherwise a few minutes of online research will offer solutions with competitors with easy transfer arrangements cover all recurring payments. 

Personally I like to hear, "Let me show you how I can help you today", rather than, "How can I help?". When organizations focus on customer-centric advice the culture changes and loyalty grows.

Pat Palmer | Sunday, October 14, 2018 | Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

WESI has enjoyed many years for individual and team coaching from Boards and CEO's to middle management and even new recruits. These customized interpersonal initiatives are built around peoples' strengths and priorities. Generally there is a real or perceived problem when it is a Board situation such as Directors not communicating with each other. On the other hand CEO's, especially in smaller FI's normally don't have an internal resource which can challenge them and help them grow. With middle management it is simply unleashing the potential that exists for the organization and the people. These are fun sessions with specific agenda focuses which will let people partner with others on a rotating basis plus understand the whole group's dynamics when collaboration is required. Actually, middle management usually contains a few diamonds in the rough which need to be polished and allowed to strategically sparkle.

Generally coaching works best prior to entering strategic discussions when the blinders have to come off and all the known and unknown options are place in front of participants. Secondly, once the Strategic Plan is documented, coaching again is essential to evaluate all action options relative to vision, values and performances goals which you want to exceed. Although none of us enjoy having to deal with unexpected diversions, those are also times to bring in the coaches so you don't just look in the mirror.

Pat Palmer | Thursday, October 11, 2018 | Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Very disappointed this week with my RBC and its inability to contain a complaint where they are totally at fault in B.C. reprocessing the wrong automobile from the wrong person and allowing the story to get national attention. Making the scene worse is dragging the issue out and not quickly admitting the error and compensating the individual beyond expectations. If the bank can't maintain proper records, checks and balances on one car, people have to question their ability to protect customer records from internal human risks.

At one time the bank had a centralized Solution Centre which acted quickly and uniformly across the country to contain all complaints for expert and speedy validation and resolution. This situation appeared to be handled or mangled regionally by less than priority attention and public relations expertise. Once a story such as this is broadcast on multiple mediums it is out of your control and containment measures.

Always treat every complaint as an opportunity to exceed expectations and learn from the digital dynamics. Plus make the customer/prospect feel respected and that your interest is genuine- don't let your defensive barriers get in the way.

Pat Palmer | Tuesday, October 09, 2018 | Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Have you sat down with SME's lately to get their perspective on Canadian financial services' dedication to their job creating engine. I meet with them regularly and there is a bad taste going around about hypocritical lenders which preach priorities and practice impersonal processes. Let me give you a couple examples which came to my attention. An entrepreneur in the commercial construction trades has built a multi-million dollar business in six years employing four dozen and servicing high quality clients such as major colleges plus receiving raving reviews and repeat business. A bank wouldn't give him an operating line, Canada's Business Development Bank want the see financials (no interview) before considering a credit line and a large credit union wouldn't give a straight answer only procrastination.Eventually he got a private working capital loan and has a negative attitude towards Canada's support for entrepreneurs.

Then there's a well known regional auto dealer in a small city with a long heritage in the area. Their new vehicle line is General Motors and their facilities are first class with third generation talent involved as well as the founder's son. They didn't borrow at one time but felt that the should have a million dollar credit line to handle expansion. Financials were provided which were sent by the local officials to the provincial headquarters' credit processors who turned it down! Needless to say another bank jumped at the chance.

In this same region, agriculture loans are also now being handled at arms length i.e. backroom submission preparations sent to central processors for decisions- without getting their boots dirty. Where are the relationship management principles in this cycle? It may be efficient for number crunching and declining business but it is an impersonal service. People make the successful difference in relationship selling/account management but if their hands are tied by ghost approvals perspectives are wrong.

Pat Palmer | Sunday, October 07, 2018 | Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Over the decades our strategic thinking has evolved from white branding channels and products to technology platforms permitting separate business divisions with totally different operating/cost models which exemplify coopetition under a single corporate umbrella- not cannibalization as some traditionalists contend. BNS has Tangerine, CIBC, Simplii, Economical Insurance, Sonnet, etc across markets nationally and regionally. You are only restricted by your strategic imagination and enterprise resources available directly or through amalgamations and collaborations. Other examples that come to mind are Redwood Credit Union's automobile brokering/financing business in California or even the Canadian payments processing operation owned by major competing banks. The strategic synergies possible are endless. Take any service which a significant percentage of customers/members can use such as real estate brokering, then say why not!

In fact we believe that digital divisions are under utilized in the credit union movement where natural philosophies and agilities exit. Take say 5/6 credit unions forming a collaboration for a group digital division without the burden of legacy systems and inflexible attitudes. The division can compete locally or be piloted in a different regional market without the high cost of a branch build.

Online shopping is changing financial services and everyone can have a digital solution.

Pat Palmer | Sunday, October 07, 2018 | Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

During the last few months of my absence from blogging I have observed many strategic issues in our financial services industry that were good, bad and questionable so now I am going to raise a series of blogs related to the various subjects. Many of you know that WESI is founded on the principle of customer-centricity- a total focus of strategic performance and sustainability.

Years ago management was taught the disciplines of the four P marketing mix-Product, Place, Promotion and Price, a mix managed and manipulated by the the FI. Oh, how things have changed in our digital dynamics today where the customers are focused on Convenience, Control, Customization and Cost-Effectiveness. Yes, we are truly and totally customer driven.

The online world offers all the technology/apps for people to undertake these priorities and execute preferences of each individual, personally- a market of one! Now I admit in demographic definitions, I am a senior who has adapted to the open opportunities of the web. For example, research, education, shopping, servicing, donating, etc is for me online based. National and regional newspapers don't cross the thresh hold to my store-my house. Telemarketing calls are dismissed. Extremely infrequent visits are made to a branch/store and if so it is for access to the foyer ATM. The Internet with pop-ups, banners, bulletins, follow-up offers, etc perk my interest and with the little commercial TV watched a few messages there do the same in that medium mixed into news casts. I am curious as to what percentage of advertising budgets are allocated to the various channels that are not digitally dynamic and how do you calculate the quantifiable benefits?

Additionally, FI's have to update continuously the profitability profiles of the customers they want and those they have based on primary preference research, not "gut feel" of whoever has the the biggest clout. Digital customer profiles should not be allocated a cost sharing for other channels which are not an imperative. Simply determine is there a real dependency or is it an excuse to shore-up weak links. More later!

Pat Palmer | Wednesday, October 03, 2018 | Trackbacks (0) | Permalink


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