Inspire a Customer-Centric Culture from the Top Down

The strongest organizations keep people at the center of everything they do and value their trust highly.

Leading financial services organizations understand that money enables people to accomplish their dreams, and their role is to enable that journey. Building confidence and trust through strong customer relationships is foundational to keeping those customers in your flywheel.

So what does that look like day to day? It involves articulating clear values and investing in systems that make life easier for all stakeholders. Here are four things financial services leaders can do to inspire a customer-centric culture from the top down.

1. Articulate and Share Your Values

Lay out your organization’s principles. Take a hard look at the core values you’ve outlined and make sure your vision is aligned within the leadership team before assessing how you’re working as an organization.

Your company values are important: these are the principles that guide who you hire and how they’ll make decisions each day. If your customers aren’t already at the center of your vision and your mission, rewrite your mission statement and values so that they match your philosophy.

Why bother writing this out? If you don’t hold customer experience at the center of what you do in principle, there’s no way it’ll happen in practice.

2. Give Your Relationship Managers What They Need

It’s important to anticipate, educate and advise your customers to keep them in your marketing flywheel. The same can be said of your relationship managers. You should be able to anticipate what they’ll need, educate them on what’s available and advise them when the opportunities arise.

To anticipate the needs of your relationship managers, you need to have a clear picture of their motivations, which tend to be one of these:

  1. Time. Relationship managers crave efficiency.
  2. Money. Nothing is as motivating as a win since they generate revenue and commissions.

Understanding how your relationship managers approach their workday will help you give them the materials they need to succeed. Studies suggest that positivity and negativity are contagious, with the ability to impact an employee’s work and interactions with customers. In short, happy relationship managers make happy customers.

3. Incentivize and Recognize Employee Achievement

As a leader in a customer-centric organization, it’s your job to listen and to give advice. But you also need to motivate your team by incentivizing and recognizing their achievements.

Make listening and advising a regular part of your schedule. This may be wrapped into the monthly conference call that brings everyone up to speed on new collateral and technology.

These calls are also an opportunity to reinforce positive behaviors, connect with your employees and connect employees to each other.

Take this as a chance to:

  • Celebrate wins from top producers and invite them to share winning strategies.
  • Find out what’s generating actions or positive feedback from customers.
  • Learn what tools or support your relationship managers need.
  • Highlight those who are successfully building strong personal brands within the enterprise system.

Position your top producers as role models within the organization. Celebrate high achievers whose work you’d like to see the team emulate and always emphasize the importance of keeping customer relationships at the center of your work.

4. Understand Your Customer Experience Firsthand

At this point in the process of shaping a customer-centric organization, it’s time to test the system and adopt a new viewpoint. This process will provide you with surprising opportunities to build relationships and gain insight into your customers’ experience. And you should take the time to get to know the customer experience at all levels.

There are two easy ways to do this:

  1. Go for a ride-along. Sit alongside or observe relationship managers at work to observe their challenges and consider how the organization can support them. Trey Rigdon at Movement Mortgage encourages executives to have empathy. He says, “We’re in business because relationship managers have hard jobs.” Look for ways to serve your relationship managers that also make their jobs easier.
  2. Take your experience for a test drive. One of the best ways for leadership to understand where there’s room for improvement is to test-drive your organization’s experience. Apply for a loan or open a checking account through your own organization to get a sense of what it’s like for customers from A to Z.

From either side of the relationship manager’s desk, you should walk away with an answer to the question, “How hard is it to apply for or access our products and services?” Sure, you have marketing administrators and relationship managers working hard every day, but are you satisfied with the customer experience your team provides today?

Build Pride in Your Brand’s Commitment to Customers

Your goal is to build a brand that inspires loyalty and trust. In order to do that your financial brand must give customers a great experience.

At the end of this process, everyone from leadership on down should be able to articulate your company’s values and see how they’re being communicated internally and externally. Your RMs should feel empowered by the resources in their hands and know how customers are experiencing these values in action.

Putting words into practice is no small task, but with strong communication among the people at the center of this system, your team will excel and your customers will not only know your brand but also trust it.