Cross-Selling Makes Some Staff Cross

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Cross-selling strategies, which have been embraced by many credit unions seeking to deepen "relationships" with members, makes many of the front-line staff charged with cross-selling uncomfortable and unhappy, according to a new study.

The "Frontline Experience Study" from the Bank Administration Institute (BAI) surveyed 16,000 bank employees found that many front-line staff feel overly pressured to cross-sell products, especially to people who don't need them. Overall, 25% of those branch staff feel dissatisfied with key support mechanisms related to cross selling.

Other findings: 35% of employees feel pressure to go beyond needs-based selling; 34% believe sales goals established by management are not fair; 32% say "I do not receive adequate competitive information"; 30% say the company does not prepare its employees to sell; 29% said the "procedures and systems available to me do not assist my sales efforts; and 27% feel staffing levels are not appropriate for the volume of work.

"An interesting finding was the need for more competitive information," said Paul McAdam, BAI's senior managing director of research. "This was a deficiency that was bigger than we thought. It makes a lot of sense that the lack of specific competitive knowledge in the branch environment and the inability to respond to it can make for key frustrations for the front-line."

And that is part of a bigger issue for front-line staff, as well.

"We picked up a lot of overtones of stress and pressure because of all the things being asked of front-line staff," he said. "These front-line employees repeatedly stated that the requirement to balance transactional procedures with all the compliance now required are adding to stress and turnover."

McAdam said the research makes clear that efforts to improve the customer experience should really be approached hand-in-hand with efforts to improve the employee experience.

"Many banks seem really uncertain that the money being invested in human capital and the front-line experience is worth it," said McAdam, who recommended that more money be invested in front line measurement metrics.

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