Chase Manhattan Corp. is gearing up for a major product sales effort in its branches, with an emphasis on selling more investment and insurance products.
About 500 branch employees are being trained and licensed to sell investment and insurance products. Chase also designated its branch managers and its dedicated investment brokers as sales coaches.
The bank wants to triple sales of investment products by the end of next year and increase sales of its traditional products, said Shelaghmichael Lents Brown, executive vice president and head of Chase's financial services distribution.
Citigroup and First Union Corp., among other banks, have also put a greater emphasis on training branch workers to be more aggressive salespeople.
Consultants said banks have struggled to boost often slow-growth branch revenues by increasing product sales. "You have to change the cultural mind-set of the branch staff," said Charles Wendel, a consultant with Financial Institutions Consulting in New York. "It doesn't happen overnight."
Chase's second-quarter consumer banking revenues rose 11%, to $2.2 billion. But much of the gain came from its mortgage and consumer finance operations-which had gains of 19% and 35%, respectively. Chase's branch network, in contrast, had a 9% gain.
To jump-start the sales effort, Chase realigned the management of its retail distribution operations - which include its 600 branches in New York and Texas, its automated teller machines, its Internet banking group, and its call centers.
Managers were reorganized along customer segments "to enhance customer focus, accelerate decisions, and increase revenue generation," Ms. Brown wrote in a memorandum announcing the changes.
Chase has also revised the way it targets sales prospects, paring back a system of some 20 profiling methods to a handful. And technology added to the call centers and soon to be installed in the branches is designed to help staff identify likely buyers of specific products.
"For the branches to become less (like) transaction centers, you have to add value somehow," Ms. Brown said in a recent interview. She added that consumer acceptance of the Internet as a place to handle personal finances is forcing banks to create the same environment of convenience and service in traditional branches.
"The ultimate customer experience has become the Internet," Ms. Brown said. "We have to have the same level of service available in the branches."
Consultants agreed. "Services like Yahoo and Quicken are friendlier and more personal than the experience you get when you go to a bank branch," Mr. Wendel said. "Banks risk losing their most attractive customers."