Bank of America

Developing Front-Line Negotiation Skills – Fee Waivers Reduced

The Situation

At a large national bank purchased by Bank of America, fee income generated by Telephone Assisted Customer Service representatives was a quickly growing component of overall revenue. However, these fees were being waived inconsistently and with little regard toward individual account profitability in front-line customer contact areas. The only existing strategy was a “one-time courtesy” approach.

Fee negotiation was viewed as inherently contradictory to customer satisfaction. Fee waivers were trending upward and were becoming a greater percentage of fee revenue each year. As the bank grew, the amount waived suddenly became “real money.”  Account servicing responsibilities rested with over 1,600 individuals across five regional customer contact centers.

The SNI Solution

SNI completed a detailed analysis of current service agent and customer account behavior. Sample accounts were identified for behavioral tracking and comparison purposes. SNI then launched an aggressive 30-day pilot program with the results of an external educational resource and internal resources compared to a control set.

The negotiation skills program included historical and projected revenue data, multiple interactive role-play scenarios, and various “win-win” negotiation strategies and examples. Education was immediately extended across all sites by securing senior-level commitment, designating individual site leadership, implementing “coach the coach” strategies, and by creating robust tracking and reporting tools. SNI then compared transaction activity before and after the education, modified the customer Listening program expectations and incentive plans, and changed new hire education and expectations.

The Impact

“Since the class I can recount numerous instances where the skills I picked up in the class were invaluable! One of the situations was EXACTLY what we role-played in the class! Had I not been LISTENING, which prompted me to PROBE, I would have missed it entirely, and we would have started the relationship with quite different expectations! Had it not been for the skills and role- playing experience I had in the class, I would be in a much different position with these groups today. I heartily thank you.”

–Account Executive, Bank of America

The Result

  • Bank of America achieved an 11% reduction in late fees and finance charge waiver rates.
  • Bank of America retained over $5 million in earned revenue to be reinvested into new business development initiatives in the first year of the program.
  • As fees increased over time, waiver rates continued to decline – enhancing long-term revenue retention.
  • Bank of America modified incentive plans to include a direct revenue component for the first time which created lasting behavior change.
  • Transaction data analysis proved that both retail and cash volume increased on accounts with fees negotiated versus fees waived.
  • Overall customer satisfaction rates were equal or better than before the negotiation skills program.