Cross-selling is not Proactive Customer Engagement

Sonia and Vishal sat on their couch sipping evening tea and flipping channels on TV. As she browsed channels, she reflected on her doctor appointment the day before. She is expecting their second child and is 40 days away from due date. She looked around and wondered how she would be able to cope with second baby in their studio apartment. This had been on her mind for a while, and she along with her husband had checked various houses. Whatever they liked was beyond their budget. Vishal did not want to take a loan due to previous issues with his bank. At that moment, they got a call from their bank offering a mortgage, ensuring a timely approval and disbursal.

Does this call sounds engaging or intrusive? Do you think that Vishal would be awed by his bank’s customer service of judging his needs? Or he would feel threatened by the intrusive nature of this call?

I would say that a call like this could awe a customer if the customer is already in love with his bank, and trusts them. In a case where customers are not much satisfied with the service levels of their banks, proactive cross-selling appears intrusive. If I were Vishal, my first thought would be – How on earth they know that I am contemplating a mortgage? Are they spying on me? When I call them with my needs and issues, they seem to give me a deaf ear.  They understand my needs when there is a chance to sell something more.

So, what exactly is Customer engagement and how does this help?

Customer engagement is engaging with customers during dormant parts of their lifecycle with your organisation. This helps in improving your brand recall, and they seek your organisation when they need relevant services. If done well, Customer engagement can help to-

  1. Create brand recall
  2. Build trust
  3. Get customer insights
  4. Understand customer needs
  5. Design/Improve products
  6. Get customer feedback
  7. Improve cross-selling and up-selling

Cross-selling is an outcome of correct customer engagement. It is not part of the process.

Some good examples of Customer engagement are as below-

  1. TD Bank Canada’s module to teach “saving” to kids – Since saving money for rainy days, is not part of western culture, TD bank has developed detailed modules/worksheets to help parents teach saving to kids.
  2. Noor Islamic Bank UAE’s “Bank of the Future” initiative – Noor Islamic Bank invited customers to share their ideas on services they would like to se in future.
  3. Lay’s “Do Us A Flavor” Contest – Lays has once again invited fans from all over the world to submit next great potato chip flavor and get a chance to win $1 million.

A few ways in which banks can engage customers-

  1. Discussion threads are an important way to engage customers, share information and get customer insights. Some of the topics banks can look at-
    1. Parameters customers consider while buying a financial product/service
    2. Financial priorities for the year for customers
    3. Things which customers desire for in their financial service provider
    4. Things they would like to change in your bank
  2. Blogs by experts to educate customers on areas like
    1. Managing finance
    2. Budgeting
    3. Saving for kid’s education
    4. Investment in equity
  3. Online games/apps with focus on banking and finance

Idea of Customer engagement is to create value for customers. Once banks do that, customers would spend more time with banks even when they do not need their services. This would lead to increase in trust, higher brand recall, advocacy, and ultimately more growth.

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About artigupta

A mother of two adorable girls, I pride myself in being able to successfully balance my personal and professional life. I love my work, and believe in working on things that give me joy. My passion lies in adding value to people, be it through training, coaching or working with organisations to deliver better customer service. Life is too short and uncertain, live and let people live; be happy and spread as much happiness as you can.
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