Stessa Cohen

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Stessa Cohen
Research Director
12 years at Gartner
24 years IT industry

Stessa Cohen is a research director in Gartner, where she is part of the Banking Industry Advisory Service. Her areas of expertise are in front-office banking technologies and trends: financial social networks, multichannel integration, application architecture, mobile banking ...Read Full Bio

What My Local Barista Might Teach Banks about Customer Interactions, Sales & Revenue

by Stessa Cohen  |  May 2, 2012  |  1 Comment

This morning I went to a different café for my coffee (au lait, shot of espresso). It’s owned by the same woman but it’s out of the way of my usual routine.  When I got to the café, I discovered that my favorite barista had moved from my usual café to this café. So, you’re probably thinking “Big deal @stessacohen, it’s just a barista. Someone else can learn your name and your drink order.”  Indeed, they can and they have. But what draws me to this barista is not her knowing my name and my order.  Meg, the café owner, only hires people who have the skills to do that. Apparently, it’s much easier to teach someone to make a latte than to teach these customer  skills.

Although I’m sure she doesn’t see it this way, this barista has cross-sold and sold me several new coffee products and services.

Each upsell on my coffee was the result of a conversation with the barista, while I was waiting in line to place my usual drink order.  First, she convinced me to order a larger au lait.

Second, several months ago, I was a bit more tired than usual and wanted to add more caffeine to my drink. I asked Megan for suggestions for other drinks that might be like an au lait but with more espresso. I  love my au lait and am loathe to change it.  After I re-read the drink board discarded all possible new drinks, Megan suggested adding a shot of espresso to the au lait. I agreed to try it. And, as I’m sure many of you can figure out, it resolved my energy issue. And increased my spend at the café that morning and on several other mornings.

Third, just recently, I add a shot of espresso – on those days, when I, um, need it.  Last month, I purchased a $50 pre-loaded coffee card (called a Yummy Card). No high tech, no mobile payments, no emails involved.  The staff keeps the cards behind the counter; they write the customer’s name on each card with a marker.  I got a free au lait for that. And, it’s all added up. I spend about 25% more than I used to.

I am pretty sure these are reasons I have changed my drink order and increased my spend over time at this café:

Personal – the interactions with the staff are personal, even if they do the same with every other customer (and they do). They know my name, my order and whether I take mine to go.

Customizability – the barista’s suggestions didn’t come off a script but from our conversations and her observations (data) of me in the morning.

Location and context of customers – I have these conversations in line at a café.  There are people waiting ahead of me and behind me. The barista doesn’t have time for long, drawn out conversations. She has to know her products and her customers where they are right now, in front of her.  Understanding the location and customers is key to delivering what they need and when they need it.  Regardless of how you interact with them: mobile, branch, ATM, online banking site, or a social site

I am a bit surprised that I have been upsold this much because I am a hard sell. I resist most discount offers that various brands fling at me via phone calls, email, paper mail, Facebook and even twitter.   I am especially hard sell for financial services products. I throw out and hang up on all kinds of credit card, refinance, consumer loan, fraud protection offers.  I refuse to buy anything over the phone and always ask the sales person to mail me something.  They never do. Even if the CSR uses my name or the email or letter is addressed to me, the sales process is clearly not about me.

So, the barista may be fooling me into buying bigger, more expensive drinks and coffee is in no way the same thing as bank products and services but I’m buying. Are your customers?

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PFM is Everywhere

by Stessa Cohen  |  April 10, 2012  |  2 Comments

I’ve been following online personal financial management solutions for a few years now. For a while, the PFM trend  looked like it was just another North American — okay US-centric trend.  You know the list. Then PFM vendors outside the US started to emerge in Europe: Meniga moneystrands, Figlo, Balancion.   Now, finally, a PFM startup announces its presence in Asia: perfectsen.  So, PFM is no longer just a US-based or even a Western tech trend. It addresses a consumer need that is apparently world-wide: helping bank customers to gain a holistic view of their financial lives,  and to help them analyze their expenditures more efficiently. It’s also quickly becoming a core requirement for online banking.

Current PFM functionality is focused on past and current expenditures and transactions.  What does the future hold? I’ve got a lot to say about that.  But you can be sure that these PFM tools will continue to evolve to include personalized advising, forecasting, goal setting and offers.  And banks will have to figure out the revenue piece.


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Doing My Job – Here & There

by Stessa Cohen  |  March 30, 2012  |  3 Comments

If I’ve done my job, you already know me, an analyst in Gartner’s Banking/Investment Services team. I’ve been blogging for the last 3 ½ years here. I tweet regularly. Mostly about banking and in particular about the technologies I cover: mobile banking, mobile financial services, online banking, online personal financial management (PFM), social media for financial services, self service banking, customer engagement. Sometimes I’ll write about consumer banking news, a bank service, product or vendor announcement or acquisition. Some are clients; some are not. Don’t worry. I probably won’t be writing about Angelina Jolie – because I already did that.  I look forward to our conversations.  Here, there, and everywhere.



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