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Life Events to Bank On

By Karl Keller

If you work in retail banking, you already know that customer life events have a major impact on banking product sales and service. Your customers’ lives are in a constant state of change. One customer is getting married while another is getting a divorce. Other customers are having children, retiring from their job or maybe dealing with the recent death of a spouse.

Life events are an opportunity for your bank or credit union to not only make new product sales but also to execute on your excellent service culture.  But to execute effectively, it will require commitment, training, and most importantly practice.


So, what will your bank need to do to capitalize on customer life events?

First, your associates need to be able to recognize a new life event.  They need to turn on their “listening radar” for hints your customer is telling them during inbound calls and face-to-face discussions.  When they hear a hint of a life event, they need to begin asking additional questions to dive deeper into the situation. 


Here is an example:  Let’s say an older woman stops into the branch.  She asks the customer service representative if the bank offers savings bonds.   The customer indicates that her daughter just had a new baby and she wanted to get a bond in the baby’s name.  OK, the bank associate’s life event radar should immediately go into alert mode.  Here we have a new grandchild life event.  Sure you could jump straight into a direct answer to her question, but instead, let’s ask a few more questions to better understand the situation. 


I would ask her if this was her first grandchild or if she has other grandchildren as well.  I would ask if the new baby is a girl or a boy and what is the name.  These are just simple questions that allow your customer to tell you all about the new baby and share her excitement about the new family member.  Continue asking questions about the new baby until you feel comfortable with the situation and the customer is gleaming with excitement and appreciation.  Now it is time to further discuss her request about options to setup a savings account for the new child.    


Secondly, should you keep this information a secret or should you share this life event so others within your organization can have the opportunity to congratulate the new grandparent?  You need to record life events in your bank CRM system. This way when another bank teller, CSR, or branch manager works with this customer, he or she can see your notes and be prepared to best connect with the customer.  What you have just done is turn a life event into active information that your organization can now use to help your customer get the most value from your bank or credit union.