It is no secret that banks and credit unions have lots of data at their wherewithal in order to identify account holder propensities for products and services. Accessing and using that data is a whole other issue, however. Because of resource limitations — including the right technology and personnel — many financial institutions readily admit they are unable to put that data to use.

So, what to do in lieu of the ability to access and use account holder data? Simply talk to your account holders.

Engaging account holders in needs-based conversations about their financial plans and situations can and does unlock a treasure trove of cross-sell opportunities. Uncovering the needs of account holders who are looking to plan for retirement, seeking a new set of wheels, hoping to put a son or daughter through college and more can be ascertained in just minutes.

The mechanics involved in asking these questions of an account holder does not require a bank or credit union employee to hold an advanced degree in any particular discipline. The exercise can be accomplished by anyone who understands the financial institution’s products and services, and the importance of taking the time, however briefly, to identify ways the bank or credit union can help its clients.

Unfortunately, engaging account holders in conversations is not taking place as vigorously as it should be. Based on a recent Gallup study, fewer than one in five account holders report that their financial institution is taking the time to have conversations that can identify financial needs. Shame on us!

The same study also points out that when the conversation is conducted, the likelihood of the account holder acquiring another product or service is extremely high.

Account Holder Table

Financial institutions sometimes lose sight of the fact that our products and services are intangible. Mortgage loans and checking accounts are not on display in aisle three or next to the oranges in the produce section. Unless employees take the time to talk to account holders, financial institutions will struggle to recognize opportunities to solve someone’s financial needs.

Getting there is easier said than done. In this age when younger employees are consumed with texting and 120-character messaging, the ability to hold an actual conversation with a Gen Xer or a Baby Boomer may be fading away. It is up to banks and credit unions to work with employees and stress the importance of conversing with account holders in order to identify how the bank or credit union can help meet their financial needs.

Constant reminders and ongoing training focused on helping to match a product or service to an account holder need is imperative. Otherwise, financial institutions will continue to let opportunities slip through their fingers.

If you’re looking for tips on how best to engage your account holders in order to increase profits, don’t miss our next Informed Banker webcast, “Big Data. Better Results. How to Use Account Holder Data to Achieve Maximum Marketing Performance,” coming up on February 22nd.

> Learn more and register for the webcast