A few weeks back I had the pleasure of speaking at Future Digital Finance about ways to get frontline staff to promote digital banking products.
For those of you who missed the conference, here’s the video of my speech. You can also read the highlights below.
Changing habits — particularly financial habits — is a significant endeavour.
Just having great fintech (even if you spent a ton of money on it) isn’t enough. Getting customers to change how they do their banking requires an extra push. And building habits so they become a regular digital banking user requires a significant amount of effort.
One of the best times to nudge customers towards digital is actually when they visit your branch. Your frontline staff can proactively promote your digital products and answer any questions customers may have.
But for this to work, your frontline staff have to be confident and knowledgeable when talking to customers.
This post will cover our 4-part strategy for getting your frontline up-to-speed and confidently recommending your digital banking tech. But first, let’s look at some of the natural obstacles to turning frontline staff into digital product ambassadors.
3 Reasons Staff Don’t Promote Digital Banking
There are 3 main reasons why it’s difficult to get employees to engage with digital products and become ambassadors for them.
1. Concerns about job security
One obstacle that’s dramatically under-considered is frontline staff’s concerns about job security. Something that consistently comes up in conversations with frontline employees is they feel they’re being asked to sell their replacement.
That’s a huge obstacle to getting them to promote your tech. Why would you want to recommend something that you feel is going to put you out of a job?
Banks have good answers to these concerns. But they aren’t talking about it — and it’s never included in training.
And as long as this obstacle remains un-addressed, it will continue to be a big part of why you see digital adoption rates stagnate across the industry.
2. Lack of confidence using digital products
Something to keep in mind is frontline staff don’t necessarily bank with the institution they work for. So they don’t always use or know about your digital products.
That lack of confidence is a big obstacle. If your staff aren't confident using your digital products, they’re not going to feel good about recommending them or showing customers how they work in a retail situation.
3. Staff are uncomfortable 'selling' digital
The last obstacle we’ve run into is that frontline staff often feel uncomfortable recommending digital banking in a retail setting.
They feel it’s pushy or uncomfortable to bring it up when a customer's problem can be solved without a digital solution. As a result, many employees just don’t bring digital products up at all.
A Proven Strategy for Overcoming These Challenges
So how can you overcome these obstacles and change staff’s behaviour?
The obvious answer is better training.
However, the tools your L&D department has to offer aren’t always the best suited for the job.
To get the long-term retention results you need to change employee habits, you want employees be training for about 5 mins each day. (Not 6 hours once every 6 months).
But something we consistently hear is that the Learning Management System (which most banks use for training) isn’t engaging or compelling enough to get employees to participate — let alone come back and train every day.
The best solution we’ve found is to create a dedicated program with four main parts: game-based learning, product simulations, role-play scenarios, and narrative.
1. Game-based learning
Game-based learning is different than gamification, which is one of my least favourite words. 'Gamification' belongs in think pieces and badly written RFPs because it’s used so frequently and incorrectly that it really means nothing at this point.
To most people ‘gamification’ means put a badge on your training and it’ll be super great and fun for everyone (which is just plain false).
But what game-based learning does is transform the content itself into something more digestible, fun, and engaging. So rather than tagging game elements onto the same boring training, it turns the content itself into a fun game that people actually want to run through.
2. Product simulations
Product simulations are something we found had one of the biggest effects on changing behaviour.
We found that employees who could run through a product simulator in under 30 seconds were significantly more likely to recommend that same product. And as their time taken to do the simulator went down, their recommendation rates went up.
What this means is that learning about product features is only step one. Repeating the exercise over and over again is how you build confidence with those products.
3. Role play scenarios
While the previous two tactics address staff’s confidence using digital products, role-play scenarios address their confidence speaking about digital products.
Role-play scenarios quickly teach staff not only how to have digital conversations with customers — but how to do so with empathy.
As a result, staff no longer feel uncomfortable recommending digital products, because they’re equipped with tactics to make it a more comfortable conversation.
You can have the most jazzy training, but if your employees have no reason to log into it and come back everyday, you’re not going to get the retention rates you need to change their behaviour. You’re also not going to stop the concerns about job security, because you’re still not addressing them.
So the final part of our strategy is to form your training into a narrative; to build a story around it so people want to come back everyday to see where the story goes.
Within that narrative you can weave in responses to people’s concerns about job security. Your employees can see (through the game-progression) that the bank that invests in digital, ultimately becomes more profitable and grows it’s number of employees.
The Bottom Line
Your frontline staff represent a great opportunity to drive adoption in your branches. But there are some natural obstacles to turning them into digital product ambassadors. Obstacles that your L&D provided tools just aren’t designed to handle.
To change your employee’s behaviour you need ongoing, bite-sized training staff can take every day. You need training that uses tactics like game-based learning, product simulations, and role-play scenarios to not only teach product knowledge, but build confidence using and recommending those products to customers.
Finally, you need to form your training into a narrative that not only gets staff excited to come back and train every day, but alleviates their concerns about job security and gets them invested in your digital transformation.