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Enhance Your Cross-Selling During This Time of Economic Uncertainty

Deepening an existing customer relationship, especially during uncertain economic times, is often a banker’s best investment.

Cross-selling, or selling products to existing customers, is a smart move for banks and credit unions. And with inflation and possible recession in play, cross-selling makes more sense now than ever.

“It costs significantly more to onboard a new customer than it does to cross-sell an existing customer,” says Lynn A. David in Independent Banker. The good news is with new technology and advanced analytics cross-selling can be easier and more effective than ever, explains Jim Marous in The Financial Brand.

Data mining, or gathering all available customer information from transactions to demographics, is essential for effective cross-selling, though not all community banks are taking full advantage of this. “They know they should be doing it, but many of them are not doing it,” says David. “This is much, much, much, more cost-effective than spending tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars on new customer acquisitions.”

Technology can even predict the types of services and products customers are more likely to want and use, says John Epperson in Independent Banker. “Investing in these types of technologies that deliver better insights can be a worthwhile investment to help manage inflationary and recessionary pressures that we’re seeing today.”

While technology can help considerably, the heart of cross-selling remains relationships. If real estate is all about location, location, location, then cross-selling is all about relationship, relationship, relationship. The better a banker knows a customer, the more effectively they can meet their needs, including cross-selling products at the right time to the right customer. A customer relationship management solution can be just the tool to make that happen.

Here are 5 ways to tap into technology and enhance cross-selling during economic uncertainty.

1. Mine the Data

As in all relationships, details matter, from remembering someone’s birthday, to their pet’s name, to their new car. Referencing the details establishes familiarity, trust, and loyalty and lets a banker know a customer might be ready for an auto loan, a credit card, or a college savings account. Banks and credit unions already have lots of details, or data, about their customers. Centralizing it with easy access can help bankers put it to good use and yield big results by cross-selling at the right time.

Technology, like a CRM, can mine all that data and gather it into a profile to paint a fuller picture of the customer. Details from data mining can personalize communication and offer chances to proactively offer solutions that work for the customer. It can make every interaction more precise and more human, from an in-person deposit to an email to see how things are going.

This eliminates some of the tedious work that might otherwise take up staff time and energy that could be spent following up with customers in person. Improved staff productivity ranked as the single greatest measure of CRM success among credit unions implementing it according to research from Callahan & Associates.


2. Empower bank and credit union staff

Staff are often the face of a bank or credit union. They have the chance to make every connection meaningful, intentional, and timely.

Support staff with technology and training to know customer’s real-time details and what products are available at every interaction. This can leave a customer with renewed connection, trust, and consideration of a new product.

Having all a customer’s data ready and available in applicable ways coupled with training about products and how and when to use that information can equip tellers and front-line staff to remind customers they are known and make them aware of products they are likely to be interested in.


3. Target and automate cross-sell campaigns

Use marketing automation tools to narrow the focus on which customers might be interested in a certain product such as an auto loan or credit card. Zooming in on the customers most likely to be interested in a product increases the likelihood of a sale and builds a trusting relationship. It also avoids inundating customers with too many or inapplicable products, which has the opposite effect.

Take advantage of technology’s help through segmentation. By organizing customers by category such as demographic or previous purchase, bankers can more easily identify or predict which customers will be most likely to buy a product.

Make sure the automated messages are personal and relevant. Relationships happen in person and online and continuity between those realms is key.


4. Streamline the process

Part of sustaining a trusting relationship is reliably offering an easy, smooth process for getting and maintaining new products. Eliminate the friction of bumpy or cumbersome steps that stall the account opening process or online interface in general.

According to research by the Digital Banking Report a financial institution needs to open a new account or complete a new loan in five minutes or less, or abandonment increases 60%.

Focus on improving these processes now to prepare for more customers in the future. It will increase current customer satisfaction and equip staff to easily take on more customers as banks and credit unions grow.


5. Reward for Referrals

Ask for referrals and even incentivize them if helpful. When economic uncertainty can make it harder to gain new customers, cross-selling has a double benefit. Not only does it re-engage and expand relationships with existing customers, but also it spills over into gaining new customers.

Happy customers are eager to share their experiences, even more so when there’s a reward for that referral. Add to that an incentive for bank or credit union staff, and everyone involved gets a better deal. Banks are often still spending less on a new customer acquisition from a referral even when rewarding existing customers and bank staff who brought it about.


Final Thought: Consider the Customer’s Economy

Take another look. With recessionary and inflationary concerns in mind, consider if there are products with fewer fees that might be more helpful for the customer and not be a loss to the bank or credit union. For some customers this might mean a banker offering support during the hard times instead of offering additional products. Looking out for the customer’s best interest can win loyalty for the long run.


How 360 View Can Help

Curious how your bank or credit union can benefit from a CRM? Maybe you need a partner to assist you in gathering and managing your customer data? If so, consider engaging a trusted industry provider. 360 View is the CRM Platform for banks and credit unions. It not only offers an easy-to-use CRM, but several additional tools including a marketing automation module. If you'd like to know more, check out our Getting Started with CRM Guide or schedule a demo to see our product up-close.