Monthly Archives: January 2014

I Have the Need for Speed

need for speed


Anyone else remember the old beer ads where people would fire back and forth, “Tastes great! Less Filling!”? When I hear financial leaders talk about mobile platforms versus branches, I see the same dynamic, debating the relative merits as if they are separate strategies.

Customers want simple, easier, secure and faster. They want what best fits into their lives. So branches AND mobile are the future, yet each has to develop greater speed and efficiencies. Even retirees have smart phones, iPads, and busy schedules. They no longer tolerate waiting in line, any more than the tech-savvy 25 year old.

In 2014, financial institutions have to work on the speed strategy because customers are going to go where banking transactions fit their lifestyle. Agility is the key.

Teller Speed

Tellers who have to use multiple applications at once and spend time re-entering the same information on multiple windows are creating customer (and teller) transactions. IT should be looking for an overlay software product that makes this a one-entry task where the correct information is distributed to the right fields.

Tellers of today need to be trained to be more generalist than specialist and tech-savvy enough to be able to walk around self-serve branch stations in a lobby to assist with customer interaction with touch screens, tablets and kiosks. This will make the teller’s life easier while also allowing customers to operate at their own pace. This approach requires fewer employees and creates faster transactions for the customer. Everyone wins.

Loan Speed

If I told you six people could change all four tires, clean your windshield and load 22 gallons of fuel into your car in less than 15 seconds, would you believe me? Hardly seems possible, but NASCAR pit crews have perfected the art of the pit stop to accomplish that feat repeatedly in every race. How?

They studied the process purely from a speed standpoint. What would be required to minimize the speed of processing a pit stop? Through evaluation and training they have designed the perfect pit stop. All that is left is the proper execution.

Processing a loan is time consuming and cumbersome. In many instances, files are still hand delivered, forms are still on paper, and wait time can be agonizingly slow. What does perfected loan processing look like in your organization? Are customers waiting to even see the loan officer? Is information currently available electronically in the system being reproduced by hand on paperwork? At what point is the appraiser notified? Do you have a real-time decision-making process in place? Money doesn’t want to wait and neither do your customers. Review your loan process purely from a speed standpoint. How can you make this happen faster?

Transfer Speed

Dissatisfaction is the greatest reason people change their primary financial institution. However, the pain has to be so great they are willing to go through the painful task of transferring everything over to the new place.

One of the greatest complaints I hear from business owners and consumers about transferring to a different bank or credit union is the arduous task of transferring. Between automatic bill pay, direct deposit, understanding the mobile interface, and getting comfortable with the new place, there are a lot of tentacles to remove and replace they have to be pretty upset in order to take this on.

How are you making this process fast and painless for the customer to bring a new account to you?

When financial institutions are able to maximize the speed opportunity for their customers, they may hear customers shouting, “Tastes great AND less filling…of my day.”









Forget Resolutions, What Do You Want to Become?



This is the time of year people when typically set resolutions for those habits they want to improve on. Lose weight, improve finances and exercise more are the most common for Americans, according to a Harris poll. I suggest we take this one step further and not just describe what you want to do, but define what you want to become.

2014 will be a great opportunity to regain a footing in the emerging economy. Here are four suggestions to help you become a better leader in the modern economy.

Become more curious

Now is the perfect time to step out of old routines and explore the “what if I tried this” approach. Technology is causing all of us to consider mixing things up. Use this as an opportunity to look at the entire business and simply get curious on trying new things. Slice your target markets narrower; offer specific banking products for specific demographics of customers. Now is a great time to learn about how it’s going to be in this industry, as opposed to focusing on how it has been. Being more curious is how you can discover gold.

Become a failure

That’s right, I said we should fail. Why? Because if we hit the bull’s-eye every time, we are standing too close to the target. For the last 6 years we have been striving for safety and security in the financial industry, and it was needed. But now the time is right as the economy is solidly emerging to try some new things that those on the cutting edge are already making work successfully for their organization. Do trials and beta tests work right the first time every time? No, and this is how we grow from our failures, if we are paying attention and look at them as opportunities to learn as opposed to opportunities to blame. Failing repeatedly is how you can perfect a process.

Become a better communicator

Every one of us, no matter what position we hold or how many education degrees we have, can learn to communicate better. From motivating employees, to dealing with upset customers, to being a great listener, communication skill improvement is an opportunity to improve your business and interaction with people. In the age of technological communications, I would argue that text messages, conference calls, email messages and voice mail have actually hindered communication compared to a time before these options existed. In the overwhelming tidal wave information age we live in, how we communicate information is critical to achieving understanding and connection. Think there is room for improvement? Watch young people sit together at a restaurant. More often than not they are working on their phones rather than having a face to face conversation. Communication skills are being replaced by information exchange, and those are two dramatically different entities.

Become a better you

So often I hear people make proclamations of how they are going to improve a fault they have, or try to be something they truly aren’t in an effort to improve themselves. For 99 percent of us that is wasted effort without longevity of commitment. Instead of trying to vastly improve your weaknesses, why not focus on improving your strengths? In other words, why not focus on becoming a better you? When we focus on our strengths, we focus on those things we do well and find easier to improve on. That’s not to say throw in the towel on weaknesses and never make any effort to correct them. However, when you focus on the best part of you to improve, the part that is successful, it’s a much more productive use of your time and effort.

Make 2014 a time to develop the best you that you can become.