We all know the phrase “you only get one chance to make a first impression.” This is never more true than with banks and credit unions today. Based on research completed by Truebridge, one of the biggest problems that financial institutions face when it comes to cross selling is that they are seen narrowly; as the place to go for transactions involving deposits and loans and not much more. How much easier would it be for banks and credit unions to cross sell if they were also seen as the place to go for so many other financial products that people buy as they move through life from sending kids to college to living in retirement. Research shows that people only buy an average of two out of ten financial products from their bank or credit union. That’s because these financial institutions often fail to take advantage of a golden opportunity to change perceptions.
Once an image is formed it’s very hard to change it. It can become a trap that is hard to escape. It is much easier to shape an image of who you are when you first meet. That first impression means everything. Many financial institutions use the term onboarding to define the time when your customer first meets you. They have just opened a new account and you are telling them all about who you are and how you can help. According to Jim Marous of Bank Marketing Strategies in his recent blog post, Banks and Credit Unions Focusing on Onboarding to Build Revenues, the importance of this event is well recognized. This is the perfect time to build an image of your bank or credit union as the place that your customer can go for so many different products and services.
But it takes more than just showing new customers a laundry list of all the products offered by your financial institution. They are already bombarded by product messages from other banks and credit unions, brokers, mutual fund companies, and insurance providers. More of the same only adds to their confusion. They are inclined to tune out. Ninety five percent of them would say they are not in the market for a particular product at that particular time and worse than that, many don’t even know they have a need. So showing off a list of products is probably not going to be a very effective way of convincing people that they should go to their bank or credit union when a future need does arise.
But there is a way to set the stage for effective cross selling and the onboarding process is the perfect opportunity to start. So many people today are desperately looking for guidance with their financial life. They want help in figuring out how to save for college or how to get ready to retire, etc., etc. Or they are reacting to a life event that demands that some financial decisions be made, like getting married or taking care of an aging parent. If you become this resource, with the answers your customers need at the time they need them, they will see you as the place to go for help. Provide them with what they are looking for; easy to understand educational content. Introduce them to this value added service during the onboarding process. Shaping your image early is easy. Trying to change what has been shaped earlier is not only difficult, but also expensive.