Community Bank Growth Strategies

community bank growth strategies

We know community banks. To develop our community bank benchmarks, we survey nearly 3 million bank customers every six months to find out what community banks are doing well and where they’re faltering.

  • We know, for example, that it’s not enough to just be active in the community if you aren’t making sure consumers know what you’re doing to be active – through social media, in-bank marketing efforts, and local visibility.
  • We know that at any point in time, 50-70% of bank customers are ready to switch banks – and we know the top ways banks can keep their customers loyal.
  • And we know that for most community banks, it can be more lucrative to focus on attracting women as bank customers, who are more adept at using bank technology and have a greater lifetime value than their male counterparts.

Community Bank Opportunity

Whether you’re the community bank manager or marketing officer, one of the things you’re charged with is growth. We know that explosive growth is possible when there are more than 3 million bank customers are up for grab in the northeast. Whether actively looking or just waiting for the right offer to show up, millions of bank customers in the northeast are not loyal enough to the bank they’re with to prevent them from switching. The same is true for about a third of business customers.

How can you keep your existing customers loyal and attract new customers looking for something better?

While it varies from state to state and region to region, there are some key areas that we find can benefit every community bank when done well.

Show Up in Your Community

You can’t just sponsor the local baseball team and call it a day. To really show up in your community, you need to actually be a part of it. When you’re serving your neighbors and know them and what they need, you can do a better job of making them feel like you’re there for them. You need to demonstrate that showing up – through sharing posts on social media, through being present during community functions, and more.

Level the Technology Playing Field

Community banks have access to the same technology consumers want that big banks have. You can offer online banking and photo deposits and mobile banking. No customer even questions that capability. But you have to follow through and make sure every single employee knows how to use every single technology you offer. It’s as much about your own employee buy-in to the tech as it is about the tech itself.

Focus on the Experience

Bank customers can walk into any bank and get an unemotional, transactional experience. Set yourself apart. Make sure when they walk into your bank, they feel like they’re at home. Be a part of their community. Give them a reason to walk through the door (fresh popcorn, suckers for kids, welcoming smiles from the staff, community events hosted on site). When you give them a reason to feel good about being in your bank, you give them a reason to keep banking with you.

There Are a Million Ways to Grow Your Bank – But You Have to Know What Customers Want

Increasing your customer base, decreasing costs, improving loyalty, cross-selling and upselling products are all standard ways to grow your community bank. But knowing what really resonates with your customers and potential customers is essential for making sure you’re putting your efforts in the right place. Your customized banking benchmarks can provide all the insight you need to understand your bank and your competitors better so that you can adjust your efforts to be more effective. Contact us today for more information.

New England Banks Honored With Prestigious Banking Choice Awards

For immediate release  

WEST HARTFORD, CT – Banks from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island have been honored with the 2019 Banking Choice Awards in the categories of Customer Service, Technology & Tools, Community Contribution, and Overall Quality. They were presented at an awards luncheon as part of the Best Bank Expo at the MGM Springfield.

In addition, six banks have won best in Connecticut and Massachusetts in their respective categories. These statewide awards for 2019 are the highest honor any bank can achieve.

Additional regional winners were announced as well. A complete list can be found below.

The prestigious Banking Choice Awards are presented by American Business Media and Customer Experience Solutions LLC. Unlike typical “popularity contests,” these awards are given based on interviews with hundreds of thousands of banking customers in a double-blind format. No financial institutions are involved in collecting the data, which is then used to create the highly respected Banking Benchmarks. Customer Experience Solutions is the recognized leader in measuring and tracking customer experience for banking institutions.

Vincent M. Valvo, president and CEO of American Business Media, said, “Customers can choose to bank wherever they want. The Banking Choice Awards determine which banks do it best.”

“There are many different elements to Customer Service and we track them all. These range from basic friendliness and personal touch to proactively identifying problems and solving them for customers,” Bruce A. Paul, president and CEO of Customer Experience Solutions, said.

Technology and Tools honors, Paul said, aren’t solely the dominion of large regional and national banks. “It is important to note that there are some much smaller banks that achieved very high ratings on their technology. Though they may have much smaller IT budgets than the biggest banks, what sets them apart is their ability to engage and train customers on the technology that they have.  Over and over across the region, we see that what separates the best tech banks from the rest is the training that their own staff has on the tools.”

Earning the Community Contribution award is significant because it’s based on input from people who are not customers of those institutions. “Unlike the other categories, this is a rating by prospects (non-customers) of each bank.  So, to win top prize, banks had to not only make strong contributions to their local areas, but they also had to get the word out about that contribution,” Paul said. “The winners in this category are not only great contributors but are also great marketers as well. You can see from the diversity of top performers that massive marketing spend does not always translate into prospects’ minds, but very strategic spend does. This is how a smaller bank can compete with and sometimes outperform much bigger banks.”

The Overall Quality recognition encompasses many of the higher-order areas of the banking relationship, like avoiding problems or fixing them quickly and openly, proactively offering services to customers that improve their financial lives and having staff that are confident enough to do so, Paul said, adding that it often reflects staff that are extremely well trained to help meet every need.

Massachusetts Statewide Winners

Cape Cod 5 Bank was the statewide winner in Massachusetts in two categories: Overall Quality and Customer Service. Paul said, “It’s remarkable that one bank was able to capture more than one top spot. That’s a rare situation indeed.” Cornerstone Bank was named best in Massachusetts in Technology while Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod took home the stop spot for Community Contribution.

Connecticut Statewide Winners

The Nutmeg State also has a dual-category award winner. Thomaston Savings Bank was named Best in Connecticut for Overall Quality and Technology & Tools. Berkshire Bank won the top spot for Customer Service while Chelsea Groton was named best in state for its Community Contribution.

Customer Service Awards Regional Winners

In Rhode Island:

  • BankNewport, First Place
  • Washington Trust, Second Place
  • HarborOne Bank, Third Place

In New Hampshire:

  • Mascoma Bank, First Place
  • Savings Bank of Walpole, Second Place
  • Woodsville Guaranty Savings Bank

In the Western Connecticut area:

  • Thomaston Savings Bank, First Place
  • Torrington Savings Bank, Second Place
  • Bankwell, Third Place

In the Capital Connecticut area

  • Berkshire Bank, First Place
  • Liberty Bank, Second Place
  • PeoplesUnited, Third Place

In the New Haven, Connecticut area

  • Thomaston Savings Bank, First Place
  • Ion Bank, Second Place
  • Guilford Savings Bank, Third Place

In the Eastern Connecticut area

  • bankHometown, First Place
  • United Bank, Second Place
  • Dime Bank, Third Place

In Western Massachusetts

  • Florence Bank, First Place
  • Country Bank, Second Place
  • PeoplesBank, Third Place

In Central Massachusetts

  • Cornerstone Bank, First Place
  • BankHometown, Second Place
  • UniBank, Third Place

In Greater Boston

  • The Village Bank, First Place
  • Boston Private Bank & Trust Company, Second Place
  • Needham Bank, Third Place

In North Shore area of Massachusetts

  • Institution for Savings, First Place
  • Haverhill Bank, Second Place
  • North Shore Bank, Third Place

In South Shore area of Massachusetts

  • Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank, First Place
  • Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank, Second Place
  • The Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod, Third Place

Technology & Tools Awards Regional Winners

In Rhode Island:

  • TD Bank, First Place
  • Bank of America, Second Place
  • Citizens Bank, Third Place

In New Hampshire:

  • Mascoma Bank, First Place
  • Savings Bank of Walpole, Second Place
  • Bar Harbor Bank & Trust, Third Place

In the Western Connecticut area:

  • Thomaston Savings Bank, First Place
  • Chase Bank, Second Place
  • Bank of America, Third Place

In the Capital Connecticut area

  • Liberty Bank, First Place
  • Farmington Bank, Second Place
  • TD Bank, Third Place

In the New Haven, Connecticut area

  • Thomaston Savings Bank, First Place
  • TD Bank, Second Place
  • Chase Bank, Third Place

In the Eastern Connecticut area

  • bankHometown, First Place
  • TD Bank, Second Place
  • United Bank, Third Place

In Western Massachusetts

  • PeoplesBank, First Place
  • Florence Bank, Second Place
  • TD Bank, Third Place

In Central Massachusetts

  • Cornerstone Bank, First Place
  • Fidelity Bank, Second Place
  • TD Bank, Third Place

In Greater Boston

  • Bank of America, First Place
  • Watertown Savings Bank, Second Place
  • Dedham Savings Bank, Third Place

In North Shore area of Massachusetts

  • Enterprise Bank, First Place
  • TD Bank, Second Place
  • Eastern Bank, Third Place

In South Shore area of Massachusetts

  • Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank, First Place
  • The Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod, Second Place
  • BayCoast Bank, Third Place

Community Contribution Awards Regional Winners

In Rhode Island:

  • Washington Trust, First Place
  • BankNewport, Second Place
  • Bank Rhode Island, Third Place

In New Hampshire:

  • Savings Bank of Walpole, First Place
  • Meredith Village Savings Bank, Second Place
  • Sugar River Bank, Third Place

In the Western Connecticut area:

  • Thomaston Savings Bank, First Place
  • Newtown Savings Bank, Second Place
  • Savings Bank of Danbury, Third Place

In the Capital Connecticut area

  • Essex Savings Bank, First Place
  • Guilford Savings Bank, Second Place
  • Northwest Community Bank, Third Place

In the New Haven, Connecticut area

  • Guilford Savings Bank, First Place
  • The Milford Bank, Second Place
  • Thomaston Savings Bank, Third Place

In the Eastern Connecticut area

  • Chelsea Groton Bank, First Place
  • Dime Bank, Second Place
  • bankHometown, Third Place

In Western Massachusetts

  • Greenfield Savings Bank, First Place
  • Greenfield Cooperative Bank, Second Place
  • Adams Community Bank, Third Place

In Central Massachusetts

  • TD Bank, First Place
  • Rollstone Bank & Trust, Second Place
  • UniBank, Third Place

In Greater Boston

  • Wellesley Bank, First Place
  • Bank of Canton, Second Place
  • Hingham Institution for Savings, Third Place

In North Shore area of Massachusetts

  • Newburyport Bank, First Place
  • Pentucket Bank, Second Place
  • Cape Ann Savings Bank, Third Place

In South Shore area of Massachusetts

  • The Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod, First Place
  • The Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank, Second Place
  • Seamen’s Bank, Third Place

Overall Quality Awards

Regional Winners

In Rhode Island:

  • Washington Trust, First Place
  • BankNewport, Second Place
  • Centreville Bank, Third Place

In New Hampshire:

  • Savings Bank of Walpole, First Place
  • Mascoma Bank, Second Place
  • Meredith Village Savings Bank, Third Place

In the Western Connecticut area:

  • Thomaston Savings Bank, First Place
  • Torrington Savings Bank, Second Place
  • Newtown Savings Bank, Third Place

In the Capital Connecticut area

  • Liberty Bank, First Place
  • PeoplesUnited, Second Place
  • PeoplesBank, Third Place

In the New Haven, Connecticut area

  • Ion Bank, First Place
  • Thomaston Savings Bank, Second Place
  • Guilford Savings Bank, Third Place

In the Eastern Connecticut area

  • bankHometown, First Place
  • Chelsea Groton Bank, Second Place
  • United Bank, Third Place

In Western Massachusetts

  • Florence Bank, First Place
  • bankESB, Second Place
  • Adams Community Bank, Third Place

In Central Massachusetts

  • Cornerstone Bank, First Place
  • Savers Bank, Second Place

In Greater Boston

  • The Village Bank, First Place
  • Dedham Institution for Savings, Second Place
  • Needham Bank, Third Place

In North Shore area of Massachusetts

  • Institution For Savings, First Place
  • Haverhill Bank, Second Place
  • Salem Five Bank, Third Place

In South Shore area of Massachusetts

  • The Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank, First Place
  • Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank, Second Place
  • Mutual Bank, Third Place, Overall Quality

About American Business Media

American Business Media (www.ambizmedia.com/) connects business professionals across the country in effective, unique and high-quality ways through a collection of in-person, print, and digital products that are unparalleled in their reach. American Business Media is proud to be the nation’s largest producer of banking, credit union and mortgage conferences.

About Customer Experience Solutions

Customer Experience Solutions (www.cescx.com) provides banks the insight they need when it comes to understanding customer benchmarks. From measurements of perception of overall quality and customer service to the ease-of-use of technology and bank practices to evaluation of levels of loyalty and vulnerability, Customer Experience Solutions creates custom CX programs that provide banks with a wide range of insights into the customer and prospect experience within their competitive environment.

###

Contact: Barb Dimauro, Associate Publisher, American Business Media, 413.896.6733, bdimauro@ambizmedia.com

What the Best Community Banks Are Doing Right

Every year, we have the honor of presenting the Banking Choice Awards, in which the top community banks and credit unions are recognized for providing outstanding service to their customers and members. The New York Banking Choice Awards were announced in April at the Banking New York Conference, and on June 28, winners will be announced for Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island at the Best Bank Expo.

The Banking Choice Awards are based upon the results of the Banking Benchmarks®, the largest and most comprehensive measure of banking customer experience in the world. The Benchmarks are independent of any financial institution and conducted by Customer Experience Solutions.

Our banking benchmarks delve into 53 different metrics about each institution customers use for banking services. These include the metrics used for the Banking Choice Awards: Overall Quality, Customer Service, Tools & Technology, and Community Contribution. Rankings for Overall Quality, Customer Service, and Tools & Technology are based on people’s responses concerning their primary banking institution. The final category, Community Contribution, is based on the responses for institutions that they are aware of but do not currently use, making it a reputation-based ranking.

There are consistencies among the winning community banks that can be used as a guide to improve your community bank CX:

Community Involvement

Community Banks who earn Banking Choice awards are among the most active in their communities. But they’re not just active – they know how to make sure their community involvement is visible to the community so that the people they serve are aware of the efforts they make to support them. Our surveys show that when a community contribution is accompanied by marketing spend to promote it, the impact to the bottom line can grow by more than 350%.

Technology

Winning community banks not only offer the same technology to their customers as larger banks but also have ensured their employees are trained to use it and can help members navigate it – without losing the personal touch that sets them apart. Staff training is typically one of the top reasons that people decide to switch banks, according to our benchmarks.

Personalized Service

Banking choice award winners are adept at providing exceptional customer service. They pride themselves on their ability to know their customers well, make more informed and faster decisions to help them with their financial needs. They know their customers. 

Customer Experience

What we’ve learned from our benchmarks is that not even better rates can pull a customer away when they feel valued and listened to by their community bank. In fact, customer experience is the most important differentiator. Customers will pay more for better service.

You Can’t Take Advantage of the Opportunity without Knowing Where You Stand

With 1.24 million customers ready to switch banks, there is a lot of opportunity for community banks and credit unions to grow, but it’s going to take not only delivering on customer experience but knowing where your bank stands in comparison to your competition. When you know what your customers and prospects think of your bank, you can make informed decisions to attract more loyal banking customers. Request your benchmarks now.

Community Banks and Credit Unions Can Gain Market Share with 1.24M Households in Play

Community banks and credit unions have a lot of opportunity to grow their market share, according to our most recent benchmarks. Whether it’s through growing loyalty or demonstrating a better understanding of gender differentiation in bank marketing,  opportunity abounds.

In New Jersey and Pennsylvania, there has been a sharp rise in the amount of market share in play. A shocking 1.24 million households across New Jersey and Pennsylvania are currently looking for a new bank. Two-thirds of bank customers in this region are up for grabs. This represents enormous potential for the savvy community bank or credit union manager who takes the time to understand why they’re unhappy where they are – and of course, it represents a big risk for those institutions that will be losing more than their fair share of current customers.

The most important differentiator community banks and credit unions have is their ability to deliver an excellent customer experience. When bank customers feel valued, listened to, and cared about at their bank, not even better rates can pull them away. This isn’t just speculation – it’s backed up by the numbers. Just like today’s retail consumer and today’s traveler, today’s bank customer is willing to pay more for a better customer experience.

What Does Today’s Bank Customer Want?

Our benchmarks are a massive scientific study across several states in which we interview hundreds of thousands of consumers and businesses about the banking institutions they use, asking them to evaluate each of the banks and credit unions they use on 53 different metrics. Today’s bank customer:

  • Expects your community bank or credit union to have the best technology and be as innovative as big banks
  • To deliver a more personal and more customized experience in which they feel known, recognized, and valued
  • To have a consistent experience across all touchpoints

What Don’t Bank Customers Want?

Bank customers don’t want runaround. They expect your staff to know how to use all of your product. They don’t want to repeat themselves because they called in, then visited a branch. They don’t want to work with poorly trained staff who can’t answer their questions. Read more about avoiding customer flight in the winter 2019 edition of Banking Mid Atlantic.

You Can’t Take Advantage of the Opportunity without Knowing Where You Stand

Our latest benchmarks make one thing clear: There is a lot of opportunity for community banks and credit unions to grow, but it’s going to take not only delivering on customer experience but knowing where your bank stands in comparison to your competition. When you know what your customers and prospects think of your bank, you can make informed decisions to attract more loyal banking customers. Request your benchmarks now.

Gender Differences in Banking

gender differences in banking

Our latest benchmarks revealed some interesting gender differences in banking: Women across the Northeast are about 10% more likely than men to prefer electronic banking over branch or phone. Furthermore, they are better at their male counterparts at figuring out how to use the tools, and they are moving more rapidly away from the branch. 

What does this mean for your bank?

If you are thinking of upgrading your online or mobile technology, you might want to keep Jane Q. Public in mind (rather than John Q. Public). As a community bank or credit union trying to attract additional bank customers, these kinds of insights are invaluable for making strategic decisions about where to invest in your bank.

Women generate more ROI

The lifetime value your bank customer varies by gender; the average lifetime value of a female customer is $308 higher than that of a male. Women are also more likely to consolidate all of their banking and remain loyal to the bank. 

For more insight into gender differences in bank customers, read Bruce’s article in Banking New England Jan/Feb 2019. In the article, he discusses why community banks and credit unions need to make sure they are doing what they should to cultivate female customers.

Banking New England takes a look at both the importance of women as bank customers and how banks can solve the gender problem in leadership.

Customer Experience Solutions analyzed over a half million reviews from men and women to discover differences by gender in banking across the region.

Request your benchmarks now.

The Factor that Impacts Bank Customer Loyalty the Most

The latest Banking Benchmarks came out the end of January, and there were clear indicators about overall banking strategies community bank and credit union managers should employ to maintain and grow in their markets. To understand where your bank specifically rates and ranks vs local competitors, be sure to request yours.

The One Factor that Determines Loyalty Above All

The most recent Benchmarks reflect that the most important differentiator community banks and credit unions have is their ability to deliver excellent customer experience.

CESCX Bank Customer Loyalty

Out of more than a million reviews, only about one-third of households and business can be classified as loyal. Loyalty is down significantly over the past 18 months. 

How Do We Measure Bank Loyalty?

Loyal consumers are those that have given the vast majority of their banking business to just one bank and are planning on giving the vast majority of their future business to the same bank.  These are customers or members that, barring any big unexpected problems, are going to be with you for at least the next 5 years. Statistically speaking, it is impossible to predict out longer than 5 years because of vagaries in the economy, people moving, changing jobs, etc.

What Can My Bank Do to Improve Customer Experience?

To improve your community bank customer service experience and generate more loyalty from your bank customers, we recommend this 7-step approach:

1. Compete with technology.

Customers expect even the smallest banks to compete well on technology. It’s an expectation, so if you fall short, you will lose share. But because technology is so ubiquitous, it also cannot be what you hinge your differentiation on. You need it, but you need more.

2. Consistency from every touchpoint.

No matter how your customer reaches you – phone, website, drive-through, walk-in, phone call – every experience should feel seamless and focused. Everyone should be on the same page about your services, and every single person who has any potential of coming into contact with your customers should deliver exceptional customer service and know how to use all of your technology.

3. Make your bank customers feel welcome.

Don’t forget the community in your community bank. When customers do walk in, they aren’t looking for an austere, corporate climate. They want smiling faces and people who know them by name.

4. Your employees should know how to bank at your bank.

As we interviewed thousands of banking customers, we discovered that staff training is typically one of the top reasons that people decide to switch banks.  Your staff – all of them – should be able to answer questions and demonstrate a clear understanding of existing technology.

5. Build a culture of customer service.

Nearly all bank managers think they prioritize service, but our surveys reveal that at least a third of customers report getting the runaround. Getting the runaround is a major reason households and businesses tell us they want to switch banks. Customer service has to be a culture in your bank from the top down.

6. Get personal.

What sets community banks and credit unions apart from big banks is that they can compete technologically while still being personal. When your banker is also your neighbor, has kids in the same schools, and understands the challenges of your specific community, it makes a difference.

7. Community involvement.

The customer experience is driven by your involvement in the community. Sponsor local teams and celebrate regional traditions. Reinforce that you are an important part of the community. And take every opportunity to promote what you do. Our surveys show that when a community contribution is accompanied by marketing spend to promote it, the impact to the bottom line can grow by more than 350%.

Want to know the specifics about your bank?

To understand where your bank specifically rates and ranks vs local competitors, be sure to request your benchmarks.

Why XX Should Mark the Spot of Your Banking Outreach

banking new england jan feb bruce paul
Image Source: Banking New England Jan/Feb 2019

In the latest issue of Banking New England, Bruce Paul discusses why community banks and credit unions need to make sure they are doing what they should to cultivate female customers.

Banking New England takes a look at both the importance of women as bank customers and how banks can solve the gender problem in leadership.

Customer Experience Solutions analyzed over a half million reviews from men and women to discover differences by gender in banking across the region.

Read the full article in Banking New England Jan/Feb 2019.

3 Ways to Grow Your Community Bank or Credit Union without a Big Budget

3 Ways to Grow Your Community Bank or Credit Union without a Big Budget

If you’re a community bank or credit union leader, you know that growth is key to success. In fact, the survival of your bank depends how well you grow your revenues.

Growth depends on understanding your current customers and your potential customers, their needs, and how to provide for those needs. For your customers, it means understanding how they are experiencing the bank, and what more do they need and want. For your prospects, it means understanding what their current bank is NOT providing and communicating clearly that you can do a better job.

It does not need to cost a lot of money to understand their needs, nor does it have to take millions of advertising dollars to communicate your ability to meet those needs. Below are some of the methods that don’t cost much and have a great ROI.

Grow Your Community Bank with Community Involvement

There’s no doubt that one of the big differentiators for community banks and credit unions is their ability to be more involved in the local community. And while we’ve talked about it before, you’d be surprised at how many community banks still don’t take advantage of this easy way to grow. From sponsoring a local sports club to working with a local charity, there’s no better way to connect with your customers and potential customers in a meaningful way.  This is especially important for attracting new commercial customers, because of the nature of the business. When their lines or loans at another institution come up for renewal every few years, most businesses want to get a competitive bid or two. But how do they decide who gets a shot? Word-of-mouth can be important, but so can high-profile community contribution. To be clear, a business is not likely to pay you a couple hundred extra basis points on a loan just because you sponsor the local parade, but it just might get you in the door to win a deal at par.

Grow Your Community Bank through Networking

As a local community bank manager, not only should your bank be a part of the local Chamber of Commerce, but you should be attending the meetings each month. Connect with other business people in the community and learn from them. Not only is it possible to gain more business customers from being more connected with them, but you can also learn more about their customers – your bank consumers.  And remember, the vast majority of new business that comes from networking is NOT direct business but from referrals from the people you contact.  So don’t make the mistake of trying to be pushy with the people you meet.  It is better to be helpful, because then they will think of you the next time, they hear of someone with a need.

Grow Your Community Bank with Collaboration

Don’t dismiss the possibility of being able to collaborate with other local businesses. From being on-site at a car dealership to assist with loans during a big sale to working with a local SCORE office to provide financial advice to new business owners, you can do so much to simply be visible in your community without spending a ton on advertising.

You can grow your community bank or credit union without breaking the bank to do it. The key is to project the message that resonates with potential and current customer needs. Don’t waste your time promoting your new technology if everyone is already happy with the technology they have. Don’t waste your efforts promoting how non-pushy your staff is, if local prospects actually want more proactivity and think their bank is not pushy enough. The most eloquently crafted message is useless if it does not sync up with an exact need.

Not sure what the key needs are for potential customers in your trade area? We can tell you exactly. Our local bank benchmarks give community banks the insights they need to customize their marketing, retain their customers, and attract new customers. We would be happy to provide information on your trade area and on your bank; please contact us by email at info@cescx.com or by phone at 203-906-8923 to request a copy of your report or to discuss subscription options.

Customer Experience Solutions Benchmarks Highlighted in Banking Mid Atlantic

As the most recent banking benchmarks reflect, the most important differentiator community banks and credit unions have is their ability to deliver an excellent customer experience. When bank customers feel valued, listened to, and cared about at their bank, not even better rates can pull them away. Unfortunately, only a little more than one-third of the banking customers surveyed (over one million responses) are “highly loyal.”

This means two-thirds of banking customers throughout the northeast market are looking for a new bank. To make sure your customers aren’t the ones looking – and to attract the ones who are looking – you need to understand what your customers and prospects think of your bank.

New benchmarks are now available – request yours now.

Read the highlights about New Jersey’s and Pennsylvania’s banking benchmarks in the winter 2019 edition of Banking Mid Atlantic.

 

 

Competing for Customers, Community-Bank Style

competing community bank styleIn the battle for wooing banking customers, large banks are starting to lose out to community banks. It’s no longer the lowest interest rates that get people in the door; customers must be able to trust who they’re banking with. Banking is becoming significantly more competitive, with a customer base that desires an experience over a service, and larger banks are having a more difficult time adjusting.

Competitive rates don’t sell.

In a banking industry that now offers accessibility to consumers nationwide, competitive rates are no longer the biggest competitive advantage. When everyone offers competitive rates, the interest on loans or deposits are not as much of a driving force as they used to be.

Consumers seek financial partners.

Delivering on banking technology is a given, but community banks can leverage what has always been a bestseller: relationships. Community banks and credit unions can offer loans to consumers that big banks may not be able to offer. More than that, community banks and credit unions offer mutual trust. Customers are able to walk into a local branch and speak with a trusted adviser – possibly even a neighbor – about how to best invest an inheritance or whether to refinance their home.

Customer relationships are the winning ticket.

Community banks know the needs of their customers and can better serve them as a result. Cross-selling bank services to consumers that are already loyal significantly lowers customer-acquisition costs and boosts your reputation as a reliable banker. Consumers respond to convenience, but they also seek value in the services they are receiving. Tailoring services directly to consumers is how community banks stay relevant.

Stay true to your brand.

It can be tempting to copy the marketing strategy of larger banks, but that won’t maintain existing customers or attract new customers when there are so many options available. You need to find what makes your community bank unique and use that as your competitive edge. Seek out benefits, beyond low interest rates, that will peak the interests of consumers – and understand who you’re trying to connect with in your community.

Pricing structures, fees, and products must be relevant to those you serve, but you also must have a differentiator. Community banks can offer more personalized services that resonate with individual customers, luring them away from larger banks.

There is enormous opportunity for you to grow your community bank or credit union, but it starts with knowing what existing customers and prospects think of you compared to your competitors. Take action now and request our benchmark study for your region.