Occasionally a slip-up can make your brand look bruised. More than one can make it smell rotten. Your competitors may find it as entertaining as a Marx Brothers sketch. You won't.

Here are some trouble spots to look out for—and what to do about them.

your employee reminders are sending the wrong messages (to the wrong people)

Lots of financial institutions have signage tucked behind the teller line reminding bankers to suggest more products or pitch a new promotion. Some are even hand-written, unpolished documents on sticky notes or scrap paper.

These send messages you don't want:

When I come through the drive through to make a deposit, I can see those notes behind the counter. They're hidden to walk-up traffic, but not to drivers like me. They tell me you're just trying to sell me, not help me.

  • Employees seeing hastily-scrawled or unprofessional looking notes see something else: they see something that isn't really that important because little care and attention has been placed on communicating this initiative with them. Don't be surprised when they don't recommend another product to me.

you think your employees can read your mind 

Lots of CEOs think employees should be suggesting, counseling, selling. Leaders sometimes don't understand why employees aren't making this a priority. But do employees know this is the expectation? Be sure you're communicating your expectations and the business plan clearly and regularly.

  • Do you have a written protocol for consultative selling?
  • Do employees have the customer data at their fingertips to help them suggest the right kinds of products to the customer standing in front of them?
  • Are employees hired, reminded, and evaluated based on your expectations?

If not, chances are that you're frustrated—and they are, too. Sales and new relationships will slide. Not because of bad service, but because of bad training.

your physical plant looks wilted and tired

You're saving money. Returning more dividends to shareholders. Efficiency is important, but if it looks like no one is minding the shop, it sends a signal that your brand isn't prosperous. No one wants that from their finanancial institution.

Don't be penny-wise and pound-foolish. Take a look at:

  • Signage: is it bright or faded by the sunlight?
  • Parking lot and drive up: are they clean, well-lit and free of trash, snow or obstacles?
  • Lobby decor: get rid of the dusty artificial plants. Right now.
  • ATM: is it clean and well-stocked with supplies?

Ensure that the brick-and-mortar expression of your brand is well-kept. That tells customers their finances are also well-kept.

Secret shop yourself.
Even the best-tended brands can slip up on occasion. Take some time out now to evaluate your performance. Be sure you're communicating in a way that's on par with your brand—for employees and customers.

For help secret shopping your institution, contact Martha Bartlett Piland direct at 785.969.6203