By Joann Marsili, CFMP
How many of you are touting “anytime banking” as part of your new marketing campaign? Are you telling your customers that you have all the newest and latest technology, and your bank can be accessed anywhere, at any time?
I would like to challenge you to think about it differently. Your technology is only an extension of your delivery, as is your branch network. There aren’t many community banks who will ever be the leader in technology, and there aren’t many of us who can create our whole strategy around it.
But we can create a strategy that allows us to utilize the technology in a way that creates an impression and experience in the minds of our customers, and creates a rallying point to our employees. Technology is changing the WAY we do business, but it doesn’t change the WHY we do business.
Our goal as a community bank is to continue to be relevant in the minds of our customers. We must continue to add value to their lives. However, consumer behavior has changed so drastically that we must find different ways to apply meaning to our value proposition of being a bank. The quote from Brett King continues to resonate, “Banking is no longer a place you go, but something you do.”
To hang our hat on technology will not create the memorable experience or relevancy in the minds of our customers. We need to put ourselves in the place our customers are: Javelin notes that the customers do not come into the branches anymore, and we can no longer wait for them to do so. However, it isn’t just traffic patterns that have changed; customer’s use of time has changed. Time, not money, has become our most precious commodity.
Big banks are using technology to drive customers to low-cost channels. But what if you WANT to talk to the customer? What if your marketplace and your service area require you to actively seek those conversations? Your goal should be to use technology differently and with different strategic objectives.
How do you out-gun, out-man, out-maneuver bigger banks with their bigger marketing budget and their wider, more deployed sales staff? Make your community bank the center of your community! Outline and live a strategy that puts people at the center of your decisions. Build a relationship strategy that defines the way you behave and the way that you go to market. Create and implement ideas that will allow your staff to interact with your prospects and customers even if they do not show up in your branches.
You can take advantage of the disruption by creating a vision and mission within your organization that requires you to “meet the customer on their own terms.” Have a customer that wants to apply for a mortgage at 6:30 p.m.? Do you direct them online to make them work through it themselves? Or, do you also make a suggestion that you can meet them at the local coffee shop to go through the application with them? If you do, your bank may have already been developing a true “anytime banking” mentality.
So where do you start?
- What is the goal of your organization? Have you defined who you are and have you communicated that with your team? How do you teach it, how do you reinforce it? You must stay consistent with your message. Changing a culture to an “anytime” outlook takes consistent reinforcement.
- Take a look at your physical space. Do your customers feel welcome? First impressions and your physical space tell people a lot about who you are and what type of customers you want to attract.
- Are your hiring standards well-defined? Can you articulate the type of person you are looking for and how they fit into your culture? You must be willing to be uncompromising in choosing the right people for your organization. One bad apple can create chaos that’s impossible to fix.
- Are your expectations of interacting with your customer and your community defined? People will never live up to your expectations if you cannot articulate it to them. Don’t leave things to chance. Every football team has a playbook so that the team can stay focused on executing. The same will work for banking.
- Have you created a mindset around the customer? You must build your processes, your products, and your outreach around the way your customer wants to interact with you. Giving today’s consumer behavior, you must find a way to interact with the customer beyond the walls of your branch and beyond the business day. Are your support areas ready to answer the same call? You should not think that this is a sales strategy only.
- Do you have a commitment to training? No one is born with all the skills necessary to be successful. Make sure training is a priority in your organization and make sure you don’t consider it a one-time event but something that is a well thought out approach to skill-building over time.
- Have you deployed the tools necessary? The technology allows you to interact and create an experience. Does everyone know how to use it and can everyone explain it? Do you help your staff to go “off-site” to help the customer by allowing integration on mobile devices?
The journey to a customer-centric anytime banking model doesn’t stop with the deployment of technology. It begins by creating a culture that understands that community banks are here to serve the customer. If we are to remain relevant, we must find ways to create “touchpoints” that may be new and different, but still accomplish the same goals: to create long-standing relationships with our customers, community and shareholders by building the most knowledgeable and engaged workforce while providing an unparalleled value to our audiences.
You can affect change, not only if you are running a division, but by creating a process for yourself in the way you will interact with your customers. The following ideas can help you get started.
If you are not the manager:
- Make sure you are on LinkedIn and create networking opportunities.
- Because you are interacting with potential customers, you can create an “anytime” approach.
If you are the head of marketing:
- Do you have all the “anytime” products deployed?
- Remote deposit
- Mobile check deposit
- Person-to-person payments
- Full online capabilities
- Does your sales staff have the tools it needs?
- IPad-enabled CRM
- Mobile Vertical IQ (or other business tools)
- Capability to deliver proposals electronically
- E-sign and other online account opening tools
- Easy to access “switch kit”
- What does your communication strategy look like?
- Have you approached “anytime” as only technology or have you broadened the definition?
- Have you instituted “schedule a banker”?
- What is the expected response to your customers?
- Is your website created to allow applications at any time?
- Are you creating tools to train your customers how to use the bank at “anytime?”
- Is the staff trained on social media?
- Have you created and curated content to assist your sales staff?
- Have you trained your employees and are they aware of what they can do on social media? Training and compliance are key.
If you are the head of retail:
- Have you explained your expectations to your staff?
- Nontraditional response times to customers and business. Not 9 to 5.
- Do they text, email and otherwise communicate outside the confines of the ank to encourage 24/7 communication styles?
- Are your sales staff well-versed in the “anytime tools” to help customers learn how to use them?
- Are your sales units deployed nontraditionally?
- Do you have Sunday hours?
- Does your call center have extended hours?
- Do you have 7-day-a-week bankers, or have you encouraged your mortgage and business bankers to have hours mirroring the needs of their customers?
- Do your bankers leave the bank to meet with customers?
- Are your bankers seen in the community interacting with prospects?
- Do you encourage the use of your branches for functions and events?
- Cultural events
- Off-hour openings
- Wireless networking
If you are the CEO, you must:
- Create the culture
- Prepare your board for a new world order
- Set the expectations
- Put resources into training to develop your bankers
- Create and hire a sales staff that expects to meet the customer’s anywhere and anytime
- Create an expectation that paperwork can be done “off-hours”
- It’s not just the sales staff; your support areas must be ready to catch the issues from the front line
- Communicate repeatedly
- Support your ideals with words, action and expectations
- Align resources in the right places
- Don’t be stingy with tools, training, technology
- Make sure the internal structure supports your outward brand values
Joann Marsili, CFMP, is vice president & marketing and sales director of Fidelity Deposit and Discount Bank. She and Fidelity Deposit and Discount Bank President and CEO Daniel J. Santaniello made a presentation entitled, “Anytime Banking” Oct. 4 at the ABA Bank Marketing Conference, Denver.