Money Moves

Bank tellers trained to sell

By Ada Ng

This is a fortnightly series of articles focusing on the banking and financial industries

Innovative training methods help
staff taking on new roles

In response to the change in customer demand and increasing competition within the financial services sector, the traditional role of bank tellers has been steadily evolving. They are now required to handle not only day-to-day transactions, but also to cross-sell other banking services which can be tailor-made to fit individual customer needs. To make this possible, frontline staff are being specifically trained to be more sales-oriented and have a broader range of product knowledge.

HSBC foresaw these structural changes two years ago. As a result, they started to retrain 1,200 frontline staff and tellers via a comprehensive programme called Project Delight.

"It is a three-phase programme which prepares counter staff psychologically and intellectually to offer need-based financial solutions to extend our relationships with customers," says Teresa Au, head of training and employee development for HSBC. "It starts with a breakthrough exercise to change the way people look at their roles and duties."

The trainer first tells operational staff how they can benefit from providing customised product referral services at the counter. They are then taught how to build customer relationships in a tactful and professional way. Frontline managers are appointed service champions and assist in a variety of role-play exercises. "We do not expect staff to close a deal at the counter, but to establish a dialogue with customers for product and service referral," Ms Au says.

Phases two and three of the programme focus more on getting familiar with banking products and services which can be cross-sold. Time is also spent on learning how to make use of data from the customer relationship management system to generate service and sales leads effectively.

"The first sign that the project was working was seen in our staff flexibility rating," says Ms Au. "The score improved by over 10 percent in our customer satisfaction tracking survey." She adds that the overall customer satisfaction rating showed a 10 percent year-on-year improvement in 2003.

The staff themselves also acknowledge the benefits of the programme. "Feedback indicates they now feel more confident in their jobs and better equipped to move on to new roles in areas such as platform sales and relationship management," Ms Au notes.

Taken from Career Times 15 October 2004, p. 2
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