The American Psychological Association says that roughly 75% of Americans report experiencing at least one stress symptom in the last month. That is three out of every four customer who walk in your door are either lying awake at night, feeling nervous or anxious, report irritability or anger, or feel fatigue due to stress.
An APA, November 2017 study lists the most 3 most common sources for American stress as:
- The future of our country
As financial institutions, we are in a unique position to significantly effect one of our customer’s main stresses and solidify a lasting relationship.
(Read: Empathy Leads to Sales)
Even when we try to relax and get away, we can’t unplug. A study by Asurion found that, of the 2,000 people surveyed, one in 10 check their phones, on average, once every four minutes. Even on vacation, Americans check their phones 80 times a day. The APA says that these “constant clickers” report higher levels of stress compared to people who put their phone away.
All this stress is leading to increased mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the present moment. It is focusing on a breath, enjoying every bite of a meal, feeling how your feet touch the ground when you walk, and understanding how life’s variables make you feel.
(Read: Meditation and Marketing)
More and more, people, particularly younger demographics, are setting time aside each day to unplug and refocus before getting back to the cerebral overload.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, there has been a sharp increase in mindfulness practices in the last six years. In 2017, more than 14% of U.S. adults said they’d practiced yoga in the past year, up from 9.5% in 2012. During the same time, meditation numbers increased from 4% to 14%.
What does mindfulness mean to banking?
Money is the #2 American stress. That said, if unchecked, customers likely see your bank or credit union as increasing stress rather than decreasing. If you can reposition their thinking, you can differentiate.
Position your technology as a stress reliever. Offerings like online banking, mobile banking, online bill pay, person-to-person payments, card control are all designed to help people get control of their finances and ease banking effort. With money as a top three stressor, you are in a position to help reduce that stress. Don’t focus on the features, detail for your customers the true benefit of using these products.
Train your staff to be mindful. Remember, mindfulness is about being present in the moment. As bankers, when we’re dealing with people’s money, one of the most important qualities we can demonstrate is the ability to listen. The more present staff are, the more attentive they can be to the customer sitting across the desk. By focusing their mind on the moment, your team can better provide the best solution to your customer’s needs … leading to increased sales and retention.
Other mindfulness ideas
Companies like Google, Apple and Target incorporate meditation into daily work schedules. If that is too much of a leap, right now, consider:
- Have stress-free “relaxation” zones for staff.
- Teach your staff focused breathing. Between each customer, they can take three meaningful breaths, focusing only on each breath, to reset before the next interaction.
- Provide quite rooms where you can guide customers for high-stress conversations.
- Offer weekly yoga classes for staff and customers before or after branch hours.
- Provide weekly mindfulness tips on social media.
- Measure your effect on your customer’s happiness level before they contact you and after.
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