The moniker “teller” has been around in banking since time immemorial. And while it may feel comfortable to you, it sends unintended messages. It positions banker relationships as one-sided—with the bankers holding all the power—and the customer taking what’s doled out.

You can be better. Here are 3 ways to get started:

change the name and set the tone

Get rid of the title and set a new tone for the relationship.

How do you want customers to feel when they interact with your team? We love the idea of Listener versus Teller. It signifies someone paying attention and ready to help.

live the listen

You can’t just change the name: you’ve got to back it up with action.

Work across your organization with Marketing, HR, Operations and other departments to train all employees on how to really listen to customers—and each other. For example:

  • If there’s a customer service complaint, how do staffers listen first, then resolve?
  • If a customer is stuck in the same old wrong-fit account, how do employees ask questions, listen and recommend what’s better?
  • If a prospect needs a loan, how are employees listening between the lines so they can offer the best options?

“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”
― Epictetus, Greek Stoic philosopher

hire and evaluate better

From the outset, establish your expectations that your bankers listen before talking.

Observe how people act in interviews.

  • Are they eager to tell, or do they listen and tailor their answers appropriately?
  • Do they ask questions of you to better understand your brand, your expectations and goals?

Take time to listen to the conversations going on around your bank or credit union:

  • Are your employees really listening during customer interactions?
  • Do team members listen to each other when working on solutions?

Notice the language and the actions so you can reward the desired listening behavior and coach for improvement where it’s needed.

watch your language

Language is funny. People often live up to their label—often without realizing it. Reinvigorate the customer experience with your brand by listening first.

If your institution needs better listeners, and a stronger brand, call Martha direct: 785.969.6203.


Credit: Science Museum, London. Wellcome Images This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Acoustic headband with ear trumpets, Europe, 1901-1930.