The Problem With Technology At The Point Of Sale In Financial Services

Background

There's a conundrum that currently exists between the customer and the seller in financial services. The customer buys and the seller sells. The customer is focused on their wants as much as needs, and whilst the seller often says they are focused on the customer's needs, all too often the focus is on products and profit. Indeed a wider examination of the decline in customer service might also do well to address the issue of remuneration systems which reward sales but not customer service. This latter practice merely confirms the customer's suspicion that the seller has more to gain from any advice or transaction than the buyer. Included in the mix is regulation. Regulation was meant to assist and protect the consumer. Instead, we have witnessed a massive exodus from providing advice whilst compliance costs rocket skywards. The continuation of bad press on sales practices; fines of major firms; and the inability of the industry to speak with one voice leads many to believe that protection for the consumer is a by-product not an aim. In addition the customer is now faced with an overloading of the sales or customer relationship process with paper, which include endless questions to complete even the simplest transaction and massive fact finds covering every conceivable piece of information imaginable. Rather than act as a comfort to customers these processes have merely heightened their suspicions. Yet insofar as technology is concerned, whilst the customer trusts the technology, they do not trust the person operating the technology.

Point of Sale systems

In this scenario it is hardly surprising that Point of Sale systems continually fail to pay back the investment. In most cases it's not that the system doesn't work, it's just that working the system requires different skill-sets and a realisation that the customer is wary of being asked questions. These are behavioural issues and yet whilst Point of Sale systems by design are based upon a customer's past buying behaviours and potential future buying propensity they tend to lack an appreciation of: - a) The reluctance of the seller to use technology at the point of sale b) The physical environment in which customer interactions take place c) The amount of time it takes to learn to operate new technology with confidence in front of a customer

Reluctance of sellers to use technology at the point of sale

Many experienced and qualified advisers now rely heavily on technology. This explosion of the use of technology has led all software and hardware suppliers and IT departments to believe that the future is bright, the future is technology. In the rush to design and implement systems however, some basics have been overlooked:

a) Sellers are as opposed to sales processes as are customers

b) Introducing technology at the point of sale involves a significant change of behaviour on the part of the seller

c) Sellers experience great difficultly in changing their behaviour

d) Most sellers in the type of financial services organisations that can afford to buy Point of Sale systems are junior front-line staff with the consequence that

- their feedback on the reality of using these systems in front of customers is often ignored

- where they provide feedback it is often guarded

- pilot launches are always used with 'champions' who provide a minute insight into the difficulties which will be faced when launching the system to a wider audience. In addition many of the results of pilots are widely exaggerated in order to bolster the confidence of those who have already embarked upon considerable expenditure and of those who will continue to be used as champions

e) The ability of sellers to convince managers that the system is being used when it is not (this in itself is one of the main reasons for Point of Sale systems not realising any return on investment)

f) The ability of sellers to convince managers that customers do not like the new system whereas the opposite is almost always the case. What customers do not like is the behaviour they experience from the seller. Clearly if the seller is reluctant to use the system they will adopt a less than enthusiastic set of behaviours in front of the customer

g) The ability of sellers to convince managers that changes should be made to the system in order to make the customer feel more comfortable

The physical environment

Most Point of Sale systems are information hungry and therefore the programme requires the seller to either input or to read a significant amount of data. This results in the seller and customer seating positions being such that almost always exclude the customer from seeing what is going on. The customer becomes wary. The seller senses the discomfort of the seller and reacts accordingly. The customer senses the discomfort of the seller ? and so the cycle continues.

Time to learn

In all cases, the time estimated and used to teach sellers the new system is inadequate. By the time sellers return to the workplace most will have forgotten 90% of the details of the system. This then requires them to teach themselves how the system works during lulls in normal customer interactions. This fragmentation of learning takes place without reinforcement or feedback and certainly without the practice of using the system in front of a customer. Within a very short time-scale sellers have taught themselves to use the system without the customer being present. When the opportunity then presents itself to use the system live with a customer the leap from theory to practice is too daunting and therefore delayed until the seller feels more confident. This simply never happens.

The solution

In an environment where the cost of Point of Sale is significant the solution is simple but unpalatable ? it requires more time and resource.

DESIGN OF THE CUSTOMER INTERFACE

The system has to be designed with the customer in mind not the seller. The customer has to see what is happening and in this way can be encouraged to take part in the exploration of their needs and wants

DESIGN OF THE TRAINING

The first step for sellers is the need to convince them that the system will work in front of a customer. They have to be shown how it will work. The second step is to convince the user how much effort is required to learn how to use the system in front of a customer. The third step is to provide sufficient time and to ensure that the design of the training balances technical knowledge with physical selling skills

FIELD IMPLEMENTATION

The most critical aspect of field implementing is often overlooked ? the involvement of the line manager. The manager must act as a coach which means they have to be trained to use the system ? but do not need to become experts. They need to experience the learning. In this way they will be able to gauge when sellers are resisting because of learning difficulties or emotional difficulties. They need to taught how to recognise the difference and how to behave accordingly. Coaches need to be taught how to transfer training to the field and the crucial element ? how to improve performance. The whole point of Point of Sale is to improve performance.

Frank Salisbury has worked on a number of successful point of sale implementation projects. If you want to find out how he can help you make a success of your project contact him at: Business & Training Solutions Ltd, 28 Rye Close, Banbury, Oxfordshire. OX16 1XG. Telephone 01295 250 247; Mobile - 07836 267039 [email protected]

In The News:

Farmington's local sales tax revenues remain up for 2021  Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Before They buy What You Say - 10 Steps To Selling Yourself

You are the productWe're all in the selling business whether... Read More

Three Ways to Get More Referrals

When you are in the business of sales, among the... Read More

How Improve Conversion Rates

Do you know your conversion rates? Conversion rate is the... Read More

Hurrican Selling Styles

As I prepare this issue of this Newsletter, at 37,000... Read More

What Should I Charge?

People ask me, "What should I charge?"I say, "Ask your... Read More

Why You Buy, Part Three

Still more discoveries from the recent studies in behavioral economics:Over-Valuing... Read More

Planning to Realize Your Goals

Recently, I wrote about about creating specific, compelling goals that... Read More

Schedule Telemarketing Time For More Success

Telephone canvassing, or cold calling, is the practice of sitting... Read More

6 Ways To Get More From Your Promotions

1. Settle On The Right Way ForwardThe purpose of your... Read More

Packaging Maketh the Person

The multi million pound cosmetics industry is acutely aware of... Read More

Marketing Conversations, And Conversation Stoppers

Where many marketing conversations get off-track are the ones you... Read More

Breaking the Ice and Winning Over the Client

Wherever you turn these days you'll find articles covering every... Read More

The Wall of Defensiveness: 7 Ways to Tear It Down

Have you ever gotten frustrated when you realize that your... Read More

How To Profit From Initial Consultations

"I'd love to work with you, but?"How many times have... Read More

Selling Your Business ? Step by Step Process

So it's finally come time to sell the business. After... Read More

How to Sell Your Products Without Competition

Selling your products at shows can be difficult when you... Read More

How to Eliminate Objections to Price

Have you ever stepped your way through the sales process... Read More

15 Ways To Get Really Motivated

First, recognize that motivation is an inside job. The word... Read More

A Little Something Special Goes a Long Way

Keeping the 80/20 rule in mind; that is that 80%... Read More

Ten FAST Ways to Sell Your Products

Always give a reason for the sale for credibility. 1.... Read More

The Prejudging Predicament

There's a direct correlation between sales experience and prejudging. The... Read More

A Brief History of the Sales Profession

The formula for defining a "profession" is similar throughout many... Read More

Five Things More Important to Buyers than WHAT Youre Selling - I

Article I of a two-part series.No matter what customers say... Read More

The Basic Secrets of A Million Dollar Sales Letter

"Accepting the consequences, good or bad, will free you; take... Read More

Are You a Winner or Whiner?

I've found that winners say "I choose to." Whiners, on... Read More