Lessons Learned at Wells Fargo

A couple of Saturdays ago, I visited a local Wells Fargo Bank with my oldest son.  My son is taking a trip to China and he needed to exchange some US Dollars into Chinese Yuan, Wells was the only financial institution we knew of that would do the currency exchange.  Our trip gave us several lessons into new trends in banking.  Note that in this post I am only commenting on the experience we had at the institution on this particular day.

As we entered into the facility, we were greeted by two ladies in Wells Fargo casual attire holding clipboards and coffee cups.  I assume their dress is casual on Saturdays.  We were offered coffee as we entered and asked what brought us into the bank that day.  I found it interesting that the ladies stood out in the open, without the safety of a desk to hide behind.  It seems the bank is hoping the customers have an experience with their staff that seems to have some of the barriers between banker and customer, taken down.

We were instructed to a specific teller who could help us and were greeted within 10 seconds of reaching the end of the teller line.  The gentleman acknowledged our request and then returned to the back where he sent up the international teller to handle our request. 

It seemed to take a bit for that teller to come to the line and serve us.  While we were waiting, we were acknowledged by the other two tellers who were on the line and even struck up a conversation with them as we did not have anyone in line behind us.  It was a smart move to make us relaxed as we seemed to wait for a spell as the teller checked the current exchange rates.

The teller finally arrived, explained the exchange rates, and asked us several questions about what we were planning to do with the Yuan.  The questions were very open and unassuming, like a conversation you may have with a friend on your back deck.  The lady found out when my son was going to China, how often he plans to travel outside the country, how long he would be there, and why the need for Yuan compared to other methods of paying.  She then brought up issues of security of carrying the cash while traveling. 

She also answered questions about how we could order the foreign money at a Wells branch that is closer to my son’s college as he is on the east side of the state.  Another teller gave us an address, branch directions, and a direct number to the foreign currency teller at that branch.  I was grateful for that as Wells main phone system, like a lot of financial institutions, is a messy web of pushing buttons, saying answers to questions, to eventually lead someone to leaving a message on someone’s recorder that may never get answered. 

So what was right about our encounter at the bank and what can we learn from it.  First, the contact with Wells staff.  We talked to seven different employees in the space of our visit.  We were greeted upon coming into the branch and also acknowledged when we left.  Folks were open and unassuming, chatting with us as you would a friend.

Second the staff did a great job in uncovering needs specific to our situation and offering other Wells solutions to those needs that would even go beyond our immediate need.  We were shown the benefits for my son to have a Wells account by having lower fees for foreign currency exchanges, security while traveling, and convenience of multiple branches both at home and at his college.  So we came in needing some Yuan and were shown the benefit of banking there.

All in all, it was a pleasant experience.  I write this not to tout Wells, but to call your attention to what was done with our visit that was right and show an example of how successful cross-selling can and must be done.  I know that many out there will bristle at the very thought of selling financial products for your institution.  Many feel that this is imposing to the customer and a nuisance.  I will tell you two things, first you already sell every day of your life.  This is done whenever you recommend a movie, restaurant, or store to a friend, so why not your financial institution.  Second, if you don’t sell, you will not survive.

News came out today that the Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi will be using 23 inch tall robots named NAO to greet customers and ask most basic custom service questions.  The robot can answer questions in 19 languages and analyze customers’ facial expressions and behavior.  NAO can also take video of the customer to help the bank develop new financial services in the future.  The robot only costs around $8,000.

Cross-selling is essential to people having so many services at your credit union that they can’t leave.  It is also a way to show more value and become a trusted financial advisor to your members.  It is easy to forget about an institution if you have only one account there.  If you have 5-10 or more it is much harder.  Your goal is to be good.  Steve Martin once said, “Be so good they can’t ignore you.”

Every contact you have with a customer is a golden opportunity that comes less and less as more transactions are done online and outside of your facility.  What are you doing to make the most of those contacts?