Big four bank NAB has said that it is aiming to remove channel conflict through a new system that will see “customer adviser brokers” manage referred customers in a more structured way.
Speaking at the launch event for the new broker products last week, NAB Broker general manager Steve Kane said that over the last six months the company has been running a trial using these customer adviser brokers (CABs) at two of its Sydney branches and two of its Melbourne branches.
According to Mr Kane, the role of the CABs was three-fold: “One is to ensure that the broker-introduced customer has a point of contact if they wish, a physical point of contact at the bank.
“The second point of it is to ensure that that customer is absolutely established with the bank correctly… Their role is to ensure that that customer's offset accounts, their credit cards, whatever it is they want - everything is set up correctly.
“The third part is, having got that relationship, they're going to actually have an [ongoing] relationship with the broker and the branch.”
Brokers can specify what CABs can and can’t do
As well as being an in-branch point of contact for the customer and the broker, the CABs are also given firm guidelines on what they can and cannot sell the client — as is already the case in some of the other major banks, such as ANZ.
“If the broker wants to use the CAB for a face-to-face meeting, the broker fills out a form that tells us what we can talk to the customer about. [For example] if that broker happens to be a financial planner as well, [they can say] please don't talk to them about financial planning. If they happen to be an insurance broker as well, [they can say] please don't talk to them about insurance. But go hard on transaction accounts, credit cards, whatever it is," said Mr Kane.
“We're making sure we don't get involved in between the customer and the broker where the broker provides those services."
He added: “Because all the products will be the same, there is no reason, and we would frown upon it internally, of taking a customer from a Choice Package to a Choice Package for no benefit to the customer. It has to be of benefit to the customer in any change. That will help.
“[Also] there is no incentive for our retail colleagues or any proprietary colleagues to do that because they don't get any value for it. Whereas in the past they might have had some value around changing a broker from a Homeside line to a NAB loan, they don't get any value for that now whatsoever. It's a zero sum game.”
Mr Kane said that the bank has also put in place a system so that all bank staff can look up the customer’s details in branch and see that they’re a client of a broker, and who submitted that transaction.
“This is a very detailed training program for the retail network, so they know exactly what they can and can't do. There will be full visibility as to who the broker is and full visibility, therefore, to treat them with the same respect that any other NAB customer gets,” he said.
“We really have gone through a great education process, internal communication, internal training so that bank staff in the branches, on direct bank and on the telephone understand exactly what we're doing.”
Feedback from brokers ‘unbelievably good’
According to Mr Kane, the trial using CABs so far has been well received.
"What we found is [that] once brokers have become accustomed to this, the feedback we're getting is unbelievably good. They're really saying to us this is the best service they've seen coming out of the bank," he said.
“Other banks have done similar things, but have never really followed through, I don't think, to the degree that says ‘this is a dedicated resource, this is about broker customers’. What we've seen is really great advocacy from the brokers and their customers, and over time these brokers have actually struck up relationships.”
NAB reportedly asked brokers their thoughts on the service when it was being trialled, and Mr Kane said that the respondents replied: “'[Y]ou will [have] an increase in your flow, because of this, because you're simplifying; you're servicing the customer properly; you're trying to eradicate channel conflict once and for all.' You're never going to eradicate it completely, because people are people and someone will do the wrong thing somewhere, but by and large we think it will help to remove it.”
The NAB Broker general manager added that since the trial, brokers have been sending customers in branch for “nothing to do with a mortgage”.
He explained: “They're sending a customer because they've got a contact in the main branch and that person needs a personal line or a credit card, or whatever it is they need, and the broker feels very comfortable now [that there’s] no general conflict. The customer's not going to be churned. It’s worked incredibly well.”
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