You’ve probably heard stories about the Bermuda Triangle; that spooky stretch of open water lying roughly between Miami, Puerto Rico and Bermuda. Whether you put any stock in paranormal tales of missing ships, planes and people is a matter of choice. What is certain is that, for whatever reason(s), people sometimes do go missing in the region, sometimes never to be heard of again.

Does the same thing happen to consumers as they enter your bank or credit union branch facilities? After many years and hundreds of mystery shops (all part of marketing audits) I can safely say the entryway to many financial institutions is a Bermuda Triangle-like no man’s land where consumers are far too easily lost. This loss comes at a cost to your brand, your business and your bottom line.

Think for a moment on how your branches are geared to greet consumers. Do you have:

  • A clipboard sign-in (zzzzz, so old school)?
  • Or have you jazzed it up with some version of a digital queue (maybe an obsolete training PC pushed into sign-in duty)?
  • Perhaps you have a front desk positioned to greet incoming members (which is better but still fraught with potential challenges).
  • Or maybe you have none of these and simply expect consumers to walk in, sans greeting and find their own way in the world?

What commonalities do past mystery shops reveal about the above greeting scenarios? With the possible exception of the front desk greeter example, all are passive greeting scenarios. They rely on your incoming consumers to look around, find the sign-in and greet themselves (or in the case of the last bullet, simply to wander around until, hopefully, dumb luck crosses their path with an engaged employee).

What general ideas/thoughts can we generate about such passive greeting plans?

Don’t do it.

Easy.

We live in a highly-competitive financial services marketplace. Consumers will pull-up stakes at your bank or credit union and transplant themselves where the grass looks greener at a moment’s notice. Your branch greeting (and how it translates to similar greetings on the phone, via email, etc.) is a critical component in keeping your brand grass greener than a tree frog on an all-spinach diet.

Passive greetings don’t cut it anymore. Progressive banks and credit unions (with an eye on consumer growth and retention) carefully analyze this crucial consumer touch-point and make it as interactive as possible. Far, far better to have a well-trained and engaged staff member at the door, greeting and directing, than a lame clipboard or tired old computer. What says “we care about you?” better – a “sign-in here” paper that’s been copied so many times the words slide off the page or a happy human face offering a sincere, warm greeting and assistance?

Bank and credit union consumers crave this type of attention and relationship-building. It’s up to you to provide it. It’s either that or lose more and more of your consumers to the dreaded Bermuda Triangle of lost business (where, I’d wager, there are plenty of competitors waiting out there in the dense sea fog anxious to scoop them up forever).

Your choice.