Not so fast. Tim Bunch, web strategist, designer and developer at Capital Educators Federal Credit Union, offers three reasons that cross-selling is easier to do online than in the branch environment:
1) Computers can analyze accounts for cross-sell opportunities faster than people;
2) In-branch interactions can suffer from time pressure and lines of waiting people; and
3) Face-to-face cross-selling can be uncomfortable for customers and bank employees.
Other market analysts agree, but with some caveats. David Albertazzi, a senior analyst at Aite Group, acknowledged that some customers may not respond well to in-person offers, but stressed that the data and modeling behind the offers are what’s most important.
“Whether it’s in the branch, online, ATM or mobile, whatever the channel, the CRM and data analytics are in the background of the transaction,” Albertazzi said. “The channel is just a way to deliver the offer, to connect the customer to the offer.”
Online systems have become more sophisticated over the years.
“When implementing online banking systems in the newer platforms, cross-selling tools, sales and servicing have become an integral part of the package, beyond simple actions like checking your balance,” he said. “The platforms have evolved to be sales and marketing platforms, often tied to CRM engines to enable 1-to-1 marketing, 1-to-1 cross-selling.
“There are no human glitches or errors with online and ATM cross-selling, but on the other hand, in the branch you have the ‘human touch’ that comes into play. It varies with personnel what kind of experience the customer will have.”
One advantage to online cross-selling is the frequency of interaction. Online customers may check their accounts seven to 10 times a month, while one branch visit per month is common, according to Albertazzi. Mobile contact numbers are even higher, but there is not much cross-selling today via the mobile channel, because banks are still focused on more central issues, such as adding remote deposit capture and bill payment.
Bunch agrees that online cross-selling lacks of human touch and the difficulty of gauging customer reaction to offers. He ultimately believes that online offers more advantages than not for cross-selling, even if an online application cannot interpret customer behavior. There are, after all, no robots in banking.