Focus on customer relations

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 May, 2009, 12:00am

Standard Chartered's relationship management training programme has evolved to meet the changing needs of customers. It takes an integrated approach that focuses equally on managing customer relationships and understanding investment products.

'We have enhanced the training to incorporate a curriculum that focuses on customer engagement, portfolio management and customer management in a bid to help relationship managers deepen their relationships with customers,' said Susanna Liew, general manager of Standard Chartered's premium banking division.

This focus is underscored by the bank's customer centric strategy where staff anticipate the needs of customers rather than only providing product information when asked.

'For example, if a customer wants to buy a home, the relationship manager won't only be offering them information on mortgage rates. Instead, we will engage the customer to better understand their needs so we can help them think ahead for the long term and offer them a solution which might include other relevant information such as insurance, tax and stamp duty,' Ms Liew said.

Training has expanded beyond traditional soft skills to include a range of dos and don'ts that focus on customer engagement. These include effective communication with the customer, translating needs into concrete solutions and anticipating customer demands.

Beyond monetary means, the bank said it motivated frontline staff through a system that thrives on the recognition of hard work and success.

'Motivating staff need not necessarily be in the form of any formal reward or recognition. The bank has a close network. If a relationship manager receives positive feedback from a customer, their manager will know about it. It is all about making staff feel recognised.'

With the economic recession expected to deepen before showing any significant sign of recovery next year, Standard Chartered is working on managing the expectations of its relationship managers in riding out this difficult period.

'We need to help relationship managers understand that business comes in cycles. We are experiencing a low time now, but given the bank's good fiscal performance, we should stand proud, stay confident and continue to work and grow with our customers. The good times will come again,' she said.