Building long-term relationships

Every financial institution wants to build long-term relationships with customers and business clients. These long-term relationships help provide a stabilizing force for deposits and loans, no matter what happens in the economy. Plus, they’re an enormous driver of profits. But how, specifically, does your institution and staff actually build long-term relationships? Here are 10 ideas that can help:

Every financial institution wants to build long-term relationships with customers and business clients.

These long-term relationships help provide a stabilizing force for deposits and loans, no matter what happens in the economy.  Plus, they’re an enormous driver of profits.

But how, specifically, does your institution and staff actually build long-term relationships?

Here are 10 ideas that can help:

1) Listen to what your customers are saying.  Talking is easy.  Listening is much harder.  If you doubt this, just think back to the conversations you’ve had with your customers and clients this past week.  Do you recall what these people were telling you—or do you mostly remember what you were telling them?  Good listeners usually have a lot of friends, and it’s easy to see why. People naturally want to talk about themselves.  Listening to your customers and clients—really listening to them—takes work.

2) Establish customer trust in yourself and in your institution.  How exactly do you do this?  By treating the customer the same way you would want to be treated if you were in their shoes.  For example, think of a couple of people who you trust, and then think about why you trust them.  Chances are it’s  because they’ve shown through their actions that they’re looking out for yourbest interests.

3) Be a friend to your customers.  Banking can still be a personal relationship business; however, you need to work at it.  This often means participating in community activities.  For example, one successful business owner who we know still banks with the same institution she’s used for 30 years.  Why?  The president coached her son in little league for three years, and she could see how much they both enjoyed it.

4) Help solve your customers’ problems.  A successful trust officer once said that he got most of his trust business when his clients had a problem to solve—such as when trying to keep an estate intact and growing for the next generation.  His expertise in solving these problems have helped created a trust department that continues to grow year after year.

5) Get the job done right and fast the first time.  A quick finish is always impressive to customers.  Don’t drag things out over several weeks if they can be handled in a day or two.  If you do hit a snag, power through it until it’s fixed.

6) Remember that the goal is repeat business.  With long-term customers, you can expect additional sales that often eclipse your first transactions with them.  That’s the whole point of working to get long-term customers, so don’t get rushed or greedy on the front end.

7) Immediately help customers when they’re looking for help.  For instance, if a business owner stops by your commercial loan department to ask about financing a new line of inventory, you can bet they want to get moving on it right now.  If you don’t get the loan process quickly started, the next lender they visit with most likely will.

8) Excel at what you do.  Which one of your loan officers did the most mortgage-loan business last year? People like to work with experts in the field who clearly know what they are doing.  Plus, they will seek them out.  If you doubt that, just ask anyone who has searched for an orthopedic surgeon!

9) Get out and meet new people.  This can be hard to do, especially if you’re busy with your current customers. However, getting out and meeting people on their turf is always an eye-opener.  Additionally, you get to experience first-hand what the prospect is talking about or asking for.  Most long-term financial relationships have started this way.

10) Stay in touch.  This means communicating with the customer or client even when you are not trying to sell them something.  Here’s an example:  My wife and I were recently talking about a couple who had lived near us several years ago.  While we knew them, we were never good friends.  Why?  The only time we heard from them was when they wanted something­—such as a ride for their kids, help moving a sofa, etc.  Personal and business banking relationships work the same way.

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