Community banks enjoy a significantly higher customer satisfaction rate than larger, national banks. But the comprehensive breadth of services used among community bank customers is relatively low, and many community bank customers turn to larger, national banks for their larger financial needs (like investment and retirement services, as well as large-scale loans). Addressing the reasons for these discrepancies can help community banks improve customer engagement and strengthen industry standing and profitability.
Emphasize Personal Attention in All Financial Matters
Community banks must not abandon their focus on being small and friendly, but they must redefine those terms to include financial expertise. They must be centers of professional bankers, investors, retirement planners, etc. They must emphasize the important of making the most critical, impactful, complicated decisions with people who are trustworthy, knowledgeable, expert friends, not with people whose only concern is making a large commission from their customers. This process of building relationships is already a hallmark strength of community banks; they must extend it more broadly across more financial options.
Insist on Early, Active, Comprehensive, Unapologetic Sales Practices
Sales does not have to be impersonal, hyper-aggressive, and manipulative. It is best when done personally, assertively but naturally, and honestly. Community banks are perfectly positioned to do it well. What the process cannot be is ambiguous or slow-moving. Customers who open new accounts should sit down with people they consider to be financial experts, to go over all their financial options. These experts are referred to as financial advisers or some other title that suggests that they are more than simply money handlers (which is how customers generally view tellers). The goal of these advisers is not to make any additional sales at that moment (unless that occurs naturally) but instead to ensure that every customer is aware of available services.
Invest in Omnichannel Integration
This solution is non-negotiable. It simply is a reality in the world today and will continue to be so in the future. Frankly, this topic is too broad to handle adequately in an introductory post (and it will be the subject of a future post), but this integration must happen if community banks are to continue to compete and thrive. The reality is that most relatively small organizations lack the resources and technical expertise to accomplish this on their own, and partnering with an expert organization in this area usually is significantly less expensive in the long-run. Thus, the best solution for most community banks is to find a trusted partner and collaborate with that partner to achieve omnichannel integration.