America’s $13 billion banking industry is emerging from some tough times. Reeling from the impact of the real estate crisis, the ongoing recession and new banking regulations, banks are looking for any and every means that can help them to retain customers, grow and profit.
American bankers gathered together recently for the ABA National Conference for Community Bankers, an annual event that unites members of the banking industry to network together and to learn best practices from experts and peers.
The theme of the 2014 conference was “Generation Next: Customers, Employees, Technology” and one of its more popular sessions: “Ahead of the Curve: Competitive Banking Powered by Technology.”
At that session, Dan Holt, President/General Manager of CSI Managed Services commented: “In today’s fast paced market, technology is allowing financial institutions to offer new services, gain new customers and keep existing customers engaged.” Holt cautioned the audience that many of these can be ‘me too’ technologies; or “they can differentiate your bank from others.”
While new online services (account management, direct deposit) and banking solutions add efficiencies, in-branch interactions (when customers meet their bankers face to face, one-on-one) continues to be the principal factor influencing bank customer experience, satisfaction, and loyalty.
“Sometimes, there simply is no substitute for talking with someone about your financial needs,” said Scott Peters, head of Regions Consumer Services at Regions Bank, a $117 billion full service consumer and commercial banking provider. According to Peters: Regions’ new appointment setting tool “puts more convenience and access to our bankers in the hands of those who need it — our customers.”
These technologies are not just being used in “large” banks. A notable example is Needham Bank, which describes itself as the quintessential community bank,” and which has served Boston, Massachusetts and neighboring communities since 1892.
Needham Bank’s customers now have single-click access to personalized appointments with product and service experts, right from the bank’s website. By clicking the ‘Schedule a Call’ button on any product page, customers can choose a specific time, branch, and representative to get the answers and help they need, faster and easier than ever before.
Management at Needham Bank see TimeTrade’s Banking by Appointment as a means to give its customers a whole new level of convenience and a banking solution for engaging customers in a more meaningful way. Says Eric Morse, Needham Bank’s First Vice President of Marketing and Retail Sales: “We’re very excited to be giving our customers access to the same innovative technology used by some of the “big banks” – but at a much more personal level at their local community bank.”
Through their use of responsive engagement solutions like TimeTrade, banks big and small are meeting the needs of today’s clients whom Accenture has dubbed as “Customer 3.0.” As bank marketing expert Jim Marous wrote in his November 2013 blog post, Is Your Bank Ready for Customer 3.0: “Today’s customer is hyper-connected, highly informed and demands a highly personalized approach with regards to communication, product development and customer service,” says Marous. Amidst what he describes as “new channels, new competitors and new shopping behaviors” transforming the banking industry, Marous advises that banks must be agile and innovative.
For more information on what banking customers want and expect from retail banks, download our 2017 State of Banking report.