I’ll give you all a few moments to get over the choking sensation you probably got from reading the title.

Feel better now? Good. Because it’s time to talk about something serious.

Brand has risen to a place of paramount importance in bank and credit union culture. And for all the right reasons. After all, your brand is who you are and what your promise to consumers. If you are not living your brand, your bank or credit union is pretty much doomed to failure.

So, all this effort goes into brand, brand, brand. But for those credit unions and banks that still offer a bonus to employees, how are you doing this? For the most part, via the extremely old-fashioned way of sales.

Note: paying for sales is still an important part of the incentive mix. However, paying employees to live the brand is the next step in this incentive evolution.

For example, you get $5 for every checking account you sell per month. Or $25 for every GAP coverage package you add to an auto loan.

These types of incentives worked well the past. But they also worked well before brand became so important. So, instead of paying employees based purely on behavior (which is pretty much like tossing a dog a small bone every time he rolls over or fetches) wouldn’t it make more sense to pay on what matters most now – living the brand?

How can you make this work? It all comes back to two things – your own unique brand and just how well your management team polices it.

For example, if it is part of your brand culture for every employee to greet every member with a smile every time they come in — and the appropriate managers see this behavior – you can set up an incentive plan based on that. Or, if an element of your brand is to ask probing questions of a consumer to find out more about their lifestyle so you may, in turn, suggest appropriate financial products and services, you can pay bonuses on that. You could also pay incentives based on mystery shops scores, positive comments about employees on social media and other metrics.

The old twelve-month marketing calendar is pretty much dead. Successful banks and credit unions now operate on a 24/7 cycle of exceeding consumer expectations by living a unique and memorable brand. This unique and memorable brand is wholly contingent upon staff that live, breathe and eat it – every day. Finding ways now to incent staff that actually live up to this brand promise, as opposed to paying them for selling individual add-ons, means better service to your brand, your consumers and your employees.

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