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A CSR at Every Desk

by Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional


Jeff Rendel

In 2015, a related article — “A CEO at Every Desk” — explained how front line leaders – in our customers’ eyes – are the CEOs of every “moment and transaction.” When our customers meet our front line more often than they visit with our executives, it makes sense that leadership for customers is local. Many bank leaders designed training sessions and systems to create an executive presence through all levels of their banks.

Fast forward two years later where a feature in one bank’s Statement of Values read, “We all hold the title of Customer Service Representative.” This bank realized that “the CSR in all of us” must appreciate that every customer adds to a bank’s success and we must value that contribution in how we go about our daily duties. “Regardless of how often we actually see customers,” the bank’s CEO said, “We must design our day around the question, ‘How will I serve my customer?’”

How do the various levels and departments of a bank integrate this CSR presence of mind in daily duties? Here are some recommendations.

Front-Facing Leaders. For tellers, call center agents, loan officers, branch managers, and any bank leader who works with customers every hour of the day; your mission is simple: Serve your customers, build great relationships with your customers, and increase your customers’ financial well-being. In the end, we want our customers to profit as a result of their relationships with our banks. Always be on the lookout for ways to be good news for your customers, building their financial security one experience at a time.

Behind-the-Scenes Leaders. While deposits and loans build the business base for our banks – accounting, human resources, card processing, IT, and more keep the gears in motion. These leaders serve customers with their skills that ensure a seamless customer experience. Accuracy, staff expertise, and uptime are just a few ways that service to customers extends beyond the branch. Some might argue – with much success – that behind-the-scenes leadership is increasingly important in a mobile world where fewer customers visit our branches.

Executive Leaders. While everyday interactions with customers are less common, vice presidents and C-Level leaders have great influence on how a bank serves customers. Frequently, schedule time to visit branches and meet some of your customers. Often, some old-fashioned “lobby talk” can reinforce or clarify what management reports divulge. Also, meet with your front-facing and behind-the-scenes leaders and describe how their roles benefit customers and your bank. It’s encouraging for them to understand that front line and back office operations are significant. Lastly, consider adding “How does this affect our customers?” to every meeting agenda. A few banks even arrange for an empty seat at every meeting, representing “the customer,” a reminder for executives as they plan for their bank’s success.

Our customers are vital to our banks. Regardless of our titles, the results of our jobs all flow to delivering economic value to customers. “We all hold the title of Customer Service Representative,” says one bank. As leaders, may we always remember – and act upon – the drivers of success for all of our banks – our customers.

Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional, and President of Rising Above Enterprises works with banks that want entrepreneurial results in leadership, sales, and strategy.  Each year, he addresses and facilitates for more than 100 banks and their business partners.

Fintech Guidance from Federal Reserve

fintechIn early January, because of the strong interest in this emerging market, the Federal Reserve published a special fintech edition of “Consumer Compliance Outlook.” This issue includes the following articles and features:

  • Perspectives on Fintech: A Conversation with Gov. Lael Brainard
  • Fintech: Balancing the Promise and Risks of Innovation
  • Fintech for the Consumer Market: An Overview
  • Fintech Resources: Laws, Regulations and Supervisory Guidance

The Art of Execution

by Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional


Jeff Rendel

“I’ll take a well-executed, one-page, written-on-a-legal pad strategic plan over a poorly (if at all) executed, twenty-page, four-color, complete with charts and graphs strategic plan any day. Substance over style – all day long.” Those are the words of a large bank’s CEO as he discussed the value of executing for results. Slapdash, one might think, of his remarks. Effective, others might believe, when recognizing that directors and executives place a premium on the art of execution.

What makes for successful execution? One hundred plus C-level bank leaders provided their insights to that straightforward question. To them, three behaviors stood out as making the biggest difference in the most significant executive skill – execution.

Be precise and disciplined. Coming out of a strategic planning session, it’s easy to be enthusiastic and jump right in to busy undertakings. But, does all of the commotion lead to strategic success? Several CEOs shared that their most valuable tactical planning sessions focused on insisting that all decisions support an end strategic objective. “One of our objectives is to ‘Increase the Measured Lifetime Value of All Customers,’” said one CEO. “That in mind, we ask how every refined and new action – from my desk to the drive-through window – supports lifetime value. Our discipline and connection to a strategic element give us clear direction in all that we do.”

Stretch your team. Like it or not, when CEOs set stretch goals, it changes performance. Too much pressuring can lead to doubting motivations or loss of support; however, the right amount of challenge increases commitment and determination. One CEO described how his team had developed a reasonable and well-designed sales and business development plan that would be fully functioning in 18 months. “What would it take for us to accomplish this in 15 months?” he asked his team. “Include my role, too,” he insisted. He left the room and brought back lunch a few hours later, discovering a better plan for execution than before. In the end, the plan was executed in 13 months, and the team was more engaged and self-assured than before.

Settle conflict with confidence right away. Conflict is natural, especially when a team is composed of leaders from many functional areas. With any project or endeavor, differences will arise, often due to limited resources, time, and patience (personalities are always in the mix). “In every meeting, I ask, ‘What roadblocks are you facing?’ explained one CEO. “I note these challenges on a whiteboard for all parties to see. I also write the objective of our meeting and ask what step – and I ask for one step only – moves us closer to success and away from this test. More often than not, the parties settle the difference and move forward without a need for me to step in. We’re more unified as a team, and I’m a better executive because I kept us moving forward in spite of the trials.”

Leadership experts loosely define “execution” as “the ability to achieve goals and objectives.” Several bank leaders who contributed to this article added “the ability to help others achieve goals and objectives.” Apply your peers’ wisdom as a catalyst in your growth as an executive, working more effectively on your own part and teaching your team leaders how they can do the same.

Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional, and President of Rising Above Enterprises works with banks that want entrepreneurial results in leadership, sales, and strategy.  Each year, he addresses and facilitates for more than 100 banks and their business partners.

Free webinar offered on FDIC insurance regulations

FDICThe Iowa Bankers Association and Promontory Interfinancial Network are offering a free 45-minute webinar, designed for all levels of bank employees and executives to freshen up on Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insurance regulations. There are two opportunities to attend the webinar: 10 a.m. on Feb. 28, and 2 p.m. on March 2. It will include a Q&A segment to address specific concerns. The webinar will be presented by Joe DiNuzzo, a former attorney with the FDIC and an expert in FDIC insurance regulations. A certificate of completion will be available for all attendees. The FDIC continues to examine bankers’ understanding of deposit insurance rules that apply to third-party agency accounts. Click the dates above to register or email contactus@promnetwork.com with questions.

A Culture of Service Excellence in Ten Minutes a Day

by Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional


Jeff Rendel

Remarkable results in just ten minutes a day? That’s what the infomercial gurus tell us as they sell their wares for amazing abs, real estate investing, and dogs that won’t bark. In spite of their claims, there is plenty of power in short, focused efforts performed consistently. Your bank can build its commitment to service excellence in just ten minutes a day.

For three decades, The Ritz-Carlton Hotels have held the “Daily Line-Up;” a ten-minute department huddle to prepare for the day ahead. It’s a chance for every department – around the world – to discuss and focus on one of its dozen-plus service principles and standards of service. Team members share “wow” stories of how they provided a great experience to a guest or colleague and they focus on a standard to execute through the day (like “a warm greeting,” “a fond farewell,” or creating a “guest for life.” For the Ritz Carlton’s full list of Gold Standards, visit http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Corporate/GoldStandards/Default.htm.

The Daily Line-Up is simple to execute at your bank. Before opening (or before every shift), huddle up in a small group to discuss a single aspect of service. Ideally, the feature to discuss comes from an established list of service standards unique to your bank with the discussion tailored to practical methods and examples of excellent service. If your bank’s service standards are still in the works, incorporate some service principles discovered in articles on your state association’s website.

To increase participation in the Daily Line-Up, see that leading the discussion doesn’t fall on the manager or trainer. Mix it up and choose a different leader every day. Tellers, loan officers, branch managers, call center agents, the CEO, I.T. professionals, and many more can contribute to learning and teaching what’s most important for service. In distinct ways, every professional at your bank is a leader for all customers. Each can provide valuable insight to enrich customer service.

Keep the Daily Line-Up short – ten minutes is best, long enough to elaborate on content and short enough that it doesn’t feel like a meeting. What’s most important is that everyone is hearing the same message and taking the day’s element into their duties to keep your customer service culture alive. When it comes to customer service, the greatest challenge isn’t skills, details, and the nuts and bolts of working with customers. The challenge is focus and performance during the day-to-day schedule. The Daily Line-Up provides an opportunity to align varieties of activities with a specific value at your bank.

Try the Daily Line-Up model at your bank every day for just ten minutes. You’ll discover that short sessions create dramatic and sustainable enhancements that are easy to execute and add alignment and power to your bank’s culture of service excellence.

Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional, and President of Rising Above Enterprises works with banks that want entrepreneurial results in leadership, sales, and strategy.  Each year, he addresses and facilitates for more than 100 banks and their business partners.

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

Tornado Virtual Tabletop Exercise

disasterFEMA’s Emergency Management Institute Virtual Tabletop Exercise program will offer six sessions of a tornado scenario on March 7, 8, and 9 from 12-4 p.m. ET. Content is the same each day, and participants would attend only one session in February or March. The application deadlines for these exercises is Jan. 25.

The VTTX involves key personnel discussing simulated scenarios in an informal setting and can be used to assess plans, policies, training, and procedures. The design of the VTTX is for a group of ten or more representatives from state, local, tribal, and territorial emergency communities of practice and is intended to provide an opportunity for responders across the nation to simultaneously participate in a hazard-specific facilitated discussion. Participants will need to connect via a site equipped with the appropriate VTC capability (not Adobe Connect or FaceTime-based), but alternate ways to participate are also available upon request.

To participate, send an email to Doug Kahn at douglas.kahn@fema.dhs.gov or call 301-447-7645. Also, send a courtesy copy email to the Integrated Emergency Management Branch at fema-emi-iemb@fema.dhs.govor call 301-447-1381. Additional information is available at https://training.fema.gov/programs/emivttx.aspx.

CFPB Incentive Compensation Bulletin

moneyThe Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a bulletin (CFPB Compliance Bulletin 2016-03 on Nov. 28, 2016) outlining expectations for incentive compensation programs. The bulletin compiles guidance previously issued by the CFPB and highlights examples from the agency’s supervisory and enforcement experience. The CFPB said that properly managed incentive programs can benefit both companies and customers, and that the types of incentive programs used by banks vary widely, but cautioned that inadequate oversight or setting unrealistic goals could lead to consumer harm. To ensure consumer protection, the CFPB reiterated its expectation that banks using incentive programs have proper compliance management systems in place to monitor and quickly respond to any potential violations of consumer protection laws.