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At most banks, the referral process is time-consuming, inefficient and opaque. The result: lost revenue, customer dissatisfaction and banker inefficiency.

BankSight conducted interviews with over 50 banks, including community, regional and super regional banks. We consistently hear that the referrals process fails in the same ways.

Why Referrals Don’t Work
Many bankers responsible for making internal referrals do not trust the recipient banker or department to act on the referral promptly or effectively. They lose confidence in the process and stop making referrals to protect their customers from the negative experience of being promised something that is delivered poorly, or not at all. And when they do make a referral, they often do not hear back regarding the outcome or receive their incentive.

It is just as challenging for the bankers receiving referrals. Often, they must find and add missing information by wading through multiple systems, tracking down the referrer for clarification or initiating a blind back-and-forth with the customer. Then they discover that the opportunity is mediocre, they are not the right person (or department) or the suggested product is not appropriate for the customer. Bankers conclude that they should not have bothered with somebody else’s referral; next time, they won’t.

The Wrong Way to Generate More Referrals
Solving these issues is tough, especially because the disjointed process prevents full insight into what is going wrong. It is hard to fix what you cannot see. Each team points to other parts of the process, reinforcing division and mistrust.

Managers understand these challenges and work to heal the data and communications rift. They announce that referrals are important, set aggressive goals, create cross-organization “sales councils” to exchange opportunities directly, establish new tracking regimes or conduct sales training.

While these measures generate some improvement, they are hard to sustain and usually fall short. Meetings, goal-setting and ratcheting up pressure do not address the real problems.

The Keys to Increasing Referrals and Conversion
Much of what bankers now do manually or half-digitally can be fully automated, and the right software solution can structure a simple, repeatable process:

  1. Make referring easy. Replace the form or email with a single click from any device.
  2. Automatically add customer data. Instead of asking bankers to manually find and input information themselves, the right process enriches referrals with customer information from across your bank’s systems and third-party sources.
  3. Score and send. Referrals are dynamically prioritized according to criteria such as customer relationship and product value, and then automatically sent to the right place. Bankers receive only those referrals that match their skills and availability.
  4. Monitor the customer experience. If a banker cannot follow up on a referral quickly enough to fulfill a Service Level Agreement, the software creates alerts or automatically reassigns the lead. Referrals are never lost, forgotten or dead-ended.
  5. Collaborate and communicate. Both the referrer and recipient can track the referral’s progress, and easy communication between bankers quickly resolves problems. Customers also receive real-time updates and alerts if information is required and can upload documents digitally, triggering an alert to the banker.
  6. Measure and incentivize performance. Reporting reveals bottlenecks and tracks banker performance and productivity. Automatic feeds to compensation systems give bankers the peace of mind that their efforts are rewarded.

Silos are broken down, trust is developed and a sustainable path to increased referrals is established. Most important, customers quickly and easily receive the product or service they need and deepen their primary relationship with your bank.

Solving Referrals Once and For All
Every step outlined above is available today, even for small community and regional banks. No major infrastructure rebuilding is required because the process leverages your existing systems. You can even keep your familiar system user interfaces if you so choose.