Marketing started in earnest.
High heels-check, trouser suits-check, hair-check, jewelry-check, eager smile-check. I was a banker...... or so i thought!
My second day at work I was given a sheet of paper and told to write down the names of all the wealthy family friends and relatives I knew and give an estimate of their net worth. Then state the deadline by which I would have converted them to customers of the bank????
Coming from an average middle income, non-politically affiliated family you can imagine my struggle to give an impressive list.
So I lied..
Chief B.Y. Dogonyaro (my latest Godparents) - N30m
Otunba Abiola MBO – N25m
Sir Ginger (my new elevated millionaire Dad) N18m
Rev Mrs. Do Good of Do Good Ministries – N16m (I was advised to join the church quick quick and volunteer to be an usher)
Mr. Smith of XYZ Oil servicing Company (now that got my manager very excited ‘Oil $$$’)- 100m
Yahoo Ltd owned by Mr. Yahoo – net worth N50m
It was crazy. God help you if one of the relatives you noted their name is relatively popular e.g. A politician, you will become the most revered marketer. Revered cause you are expected to bring Uncle's loot to the bank. Maligned if you are unsuccessful. A 'threat sackletter' from the bank is sometimes helpful in making Uncle more sympathetic to your cause (
did someone say blackmail?).
Charity begins at home right? I started calling uncles, family friends who I never was close to in earnest,
ask begging them to open an account with my bank, friends and neighbors. It was something I had never been easy with, calling favors and owing ‘people favors’ per se, but it had to be done. I tried to be pragmatic and think of it like a game. A popularity contest.
That notion worked for a while,
till I found out my KPI (Key Performance Index) which no one had mentioned at the interview, and desperation crept in.
Deposits are the sum total of monies the account holders you manage keep with the Bank
Risk assets are the sum total of monies taken in loans by the account holders you manage
Income is the interest earned on the deposits and on the loans given out
Bank marketing is a lot like sales...duh, it was sales. But unlike sales of goods where there is an instant gain for the customer when he buys the product (drugs, cleaning agent, cosmetics) in banking you are telling people to .. errr, come and save their money with your bank / take loans from your bank trusting that your bank doesn’t renege on the contract e.g raise interest rates arbitrarily.
Knowing the Nigerian banking climate, what with recent memories of near collapse of some banks due to misappropriation by directors etc, you can’t blame Nigerians for being distrustful. Most people have more faith in their closets and home safes.
There were also other issues.
1. 1. Products and Services
They say customers listen to Radio WITFM (what’s in this for me). Well, what do most customers want?
Incentives - Personal banking could have come with better incentives like what I see here…where you get value added incentives like computer/phone insurance, travel insurance. Discounts in favourite shops. Small things that make a customer think they are getting ‘value’ for banking with you.
Credit: For their personal use. To start up businesses. But how many get that? Very few. Banks are afraid to give cause customers aren’t ready to pay back and a lack of social security number and national ID makes it impossible to trace defaulters. So we ask for collaterals like share certificates, land, houses. Only few can produce acceptable legal documents which can hold in court. Businesses are unregistered. Bank accounts run like personal accounts. How do you lend money to a customer whose account turnover isn’t more than N100,000 monthly, but he wants to borrow N1m?
Salary earners had it easier, we have particular groups we lend money to – telecom staff, fellow bank staff and people in civil service. Also staff of long established blue chip companies. The idea being their incomes are steady. They don’t change jobs. Even if they do, they are only moving to bigger and better jobs. If you don’t belong to any of these groups, Credit? Fogerrit….
Some banks took risks and truly helped a lot of businesses. Some, like mine played by the book.
All in all, sales in the bank was up to ‘personal relationships’ of the marketer.
2. 2. Fellow bank staff
Where do I start? Is it the manager that can’t write a coherent letter? Or the zonal manager that accompanies you on a marketing call only to end up embarrassing you cause he can’t differentiate between a long term loan and a short term overdraft?
Or the team leader who takes the pool car out (grounding every other marketer) to MTN office ostensibly to sell our credit products to her ‘connections there’ when she is actually out on a long lunch date?
Or the inefficiency in bank operations that causes cheque book printing to take months, ATM card request 2 months, Cheque confirmation hours?
Or Is it the lunatic customer service person who inadvertently pisses off customers that you’ve spent months wooing?
The latter one just gets my goat. You’ve been following up this prospect Mr WYU: attended all his family wedding and christening events, bought the aso-ebi, called him every other day, texted him daily, etc etc. He finally opens an account with your bank (just to get you off his back). And you bide your time thinking soon soon.
All the while he has only met you, or some other member of your marketing team and maybe your boss (when I say personal banking I mean it literally. We bring the bank to him, account opening forms etc for those who can’t be bothered -which is most, na you dey beg na- I fill all the forms, and just point to where he signs).
As good team members, we update other colleagues of the progress of Mr. WYU’s wooing during branch meetings.
Imagine then one fine morning, Mr. WYU wakes up on the good side of his bed and decides to come to the bank, to pick his cheque book. And surprise you. And he meets the idiotic Customer Service Officer who thinks her job function means she is ruler of all she surveys.
Mr. WYU: Hello, I came to pick the cheque book for WYU LTD. My name is Mr. WYU.
CSO: (slowly looking up from her blackberry with irritated eyes and pouting lips) What?
Mr. WYU: (repeats himself)
CSO: "Please I can’t attend to you now. Can’t you see I am busy? Come back in 2 hrs time"
And Mr WYU leaves your bank with the 20m cheque he wanted to pay in thinking ‘what kind of bank is this?’!
Sigh. Only God’s grace and the gap toothed smile of her baby boy on her desktop screen, stopped me from helping some people lose their jobs. Only that.