Branch and Call Center Referral Studies 


While bank investment sales programs can receive leads from many sources, branch and call center referrals remain the single most important source of referrals for most programs. According to research conducted by Kenneth Kehrer, investment sales programs that consistently rank in the top quartile in terms of sales and revenues typically receive five to ten times the number of referrals from the bank per registered representative and per branch as bottom quartile programs. In 2007, for example, banks supporting top quartile programs typically generated over 100 referrals per branch and over 390 referrals per broker during the year.

Sales Quality Group has developed an extremely cost-effective way to measure your branch employees’ service quality skills, propensity to refer and compliance with referral do’s and don’ts. By identifying opportunities for improvement and impediments to the referral process, the results of a branch referral study can assist you in substantially increasing the number and quality of referrals generated each month by your bank’s retail branches.

How the Study Works: Sales Quality Group’s shoppers will call each branch and/or the call center several times posing as prospective customers who are interested in current CD rates. The shoppers are instructed to inquire about CD rates, then to report whether, and under what circumstances, the branch employee mentioned the availability of non-deposit investment products and/or referred them to a Financial Consultant or Licensed Branch Employee.

When calling a branch or the call center, the shopper will first monitor the level of service they receive when they call, including such things as the number of rings, wait time, whether the customer service representative introduced himself/herself, and whether or not he/she thanked the shopper for calling. Next, the shopper will state the purpose of their call and begin monitoring the branch employee’s “propensity to refer.” Ideally, the branch employee will ask several questions of the shopper and then spontaneously refer him/her to the appropriate Financial Consultant. If the branch employee does not spontaneously refer, however, the shoppers will then give one “needs” clue, such as commenting about low rates or asking if they could get a higher rate for a longer term. If the branch employee still does not suggest non-deposit investment products, the shopper will attempt to prompt a discussion by asking if the bank “offers any other investment options?” Once the issue of non-deposit investments comes up, the shopper will report what was said and to note any possible violation of the Bank’s referral “do’s and don’ts.”

The Management Report: The results of your study will then be compiled and presented to you in a formal Management Report wherein the branches’ sales, service and compliance quality skills are noted and compared to normative data from several dozen similar studies conducted by Sales Quality Group over the past few years. The Management Report will contain a number of charts and graphs clearly depicting the results of the study.

Copies of all completed shopper evaluation forms will also be provided to the client. The evaluation form includes results from all evaluation criteria measured, the shopper’s narrative and a numerical rating of both service and sales quality, plus the shopper’s overall satisfaction with the call. The shopper evaluation forms can be used as report cards to help coach the branch employees who were shopped during the study.

The Management Report, of course, helps draw attention to the issue of referrals, and in many cases, will help spur bank management to allow more training and to encourage more referrals. But the Management Report can also spur even more activity on the referral front, such as the creation of a special referral incentive program. Combining a branch referral testing study with a referral incentive program creates an ideal environment to foster substantial increases in the number of referrals to your investment sales program. Several of Sales Quality Group’s clients have reported substantial increases in referrals and program revenues immediately following such studies.

Branch referral studies tend to be extremely inexpensive, with unit costs as low as $35 to $45 per completed call. If you would like additional information on Sales Quality Groupís Branch and Call Center Referral Studies, please contact Jim Rensel at (480) 967-7500 or email Bill Gutkowski or Valentina Zeff.


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