Fable Friday: What the impatient golfer taught the conscientious teller

Years ago I played a lot of golf, as I lived right across the street from a golf course. If you’ve ever played the game you know that when you’re on the putting green there is usually a group behind you waiting to hit to the green.  Often they display discourteous body language, leaning on their clubs with a HTFU look on their faces, which is disconcerting to those on the green, who sometimes rush their putt and miss.

This scenario reminds me of when I learned how to be a bank teller.  Here’s what makes a good teller. Banks are good at conducting research with customers to find out what they value from tellers, and the responses they get are consistent over the years.  Customers want tellers to be courteous, fast and accurate, nothing more.

Gregory at Medtronic 10-2010 CroppedI was good at two of the three: upbeat and courteous, accurate to the penny, but slow as molasses.  One day when our bank lobby was crowded with customers, the teller next to me called out, “If any of you have all day to spend here, please get in Gregory’s line.” Ha ha ha.

I recall that whenever a transaction was taking a while, I couldn’t help but notice how many people were in line behind my customer, sort of like the golfers on the green who are aware of the scowlers on the fairway.  This made me nervous, and nervous workers are not happy workers.

Now keep this scenario in mind, because the reality is that all tellers feel this way.  They’re conscientious. They want to help people, but they want to move the line along.  That’s what the customers want too.

So why does bank management, knowing that the customers want only courtesy, speed and accuracy, insist that tellers work harder at making referrals and selling product at the teller line? Holding up the line to tell some customer all about the bank’s product of the month flies in the face of what customers want from a bank.

But there is a way to be more efficient in helping customers while selling more products, and the solution lies in understanding what tellers like to do and what they don’t like to do.  Tellers like to help people, and they like to move the line along.  Tellers don’t like to ask intrusive questions, face rejection and inconvenience other customers.

This means that for the bank to achieve its sales goals, it needs to train tellers in a different way. Help them to recognize possible need cues and clues.  There are just four: how the customer uses a checking account, how the customer uses credit, how the customer saves and invests, and how the bank’s services are delivered to the customer (channel management).

Once this is understood, help the tellers learn a set of “quick questions” to see if help is welcome. Here are a few:

“Would you be interested in a quicker way of getting that information?”

“Have you considered the alternative of financing that purchase? I can get someone to help you.”

“Yes, you can have your new checks sent here. Are you concerned about identify theft?”

The advantages of doing it this way are that the customer can quickly opt in or out, and the teller can help or not help without fear of rejection, and the line moves along quickly. There is seldom a need for a teller to make a sales presentation; just a quick referral to the platform.

Train your tellers based on what you know about them. It’s just another way to…

Think Like Your Customer

About Gregory LaMothe
I teach people how to sell things. I own the company ActionSystems. Visit my website at www.actionsystemstraining.com.

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