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.

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

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.

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.

Consumers Are Looking for These 3 Digital Banking Services

Community banks have a lot of advantages over their larger counterparts, but that’s no reason to slack on technology. Regardless of the size of the bank, consumers expect certain digital banking services. Luckily for smaller banks and credit unions, the latest Benchmarks reveal that most households and businesses assume smaller institutions have about the same quality digital tools as the largest banks. Beyond delivering amazing customer service and employing strong community engagement practices, be sure these digital banking services are up to speed:

  1. Mobile Banking

A rapidly growing percent of consumers want everything accessible on a mobile device. The latest CES Banking Benchmarks reveal that 64% of consumers expect to increase their mobile and online banking in the next 12 months. Although you want your customers to feel comfortable coming into the branch, they shouldn’t have to come in for routine transactions if they don’t want to. Remote transfer, bill pay, and remote deposit have grown by up to 35% per year at some of the more proactive institutions. Person-to-person (P2P) payments are also more popular than ever, with friends using Venmo and PayPal to cover a shared cab rather than exchange cash. It’s essential that your mobile app can communicate with the preferred apps of your consumers, making every monetary transaction as easy as possible.

  1. Financial Planning

Consumers want more from their bank than the exchange of money. Financial planning is high on the list of what community banks should be offering, and this shouldn’t be limited to an in-person visit with a representative. Give your consumers the freedom to use files stored on their personal devices to make comparisons with your website or app. Budgeting, loan calculators, and tax preparation are only a few financial planning tools that are valuable to your customers. And once they start using these tools with your bank, they are far more likely to use your value-added services in the future.

  1. Online Account Management

Community banks can’t afford to forget about basic account management services. There’s nothing more annoying than having to fill out paperwork for something like a change of mailing address when it should be something the customer can do online. Allow your consumers the flexibility to make changes to their account digitally, without the hassle of paperwork or a trip to your branch. It should be easy to change contact information, switch mailing addresses, and check balances of different accounts. It may seem like common sense, especially since convenience is valuable to your consumer base, but these basic functions are often overlooked or not properly developed.

Bank technology is easily available, and it doesn’t take much to implement tools that make a difference to your customers.  An oft-forgotten aspect of employing banking technology is how important it is to educate your own employees on how to use them.  If your employees do not know how to use the technology you offer your customers, you can be assured that your customers question how good your bank really is if the employees don’t know how to bank there. During the interviews CES conducts for the Benchmarks, we see thousands of comments from customers who question the quality of their bank when they believe the bank’s staff themselves are not expert users of the banks’ technology.

An investment in digital banking services is no longer an option if your community bank wants to remain competitive. Community banks should always leverage their unique position as a member of the local community, but they must also deliver the level of functionality consumers expect from every bank large or small.

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.