3 keys to increasing bank customer engagement

Local banks have found success in the customer service model for many years. People are often cautious with their finances, but community banks establish a level of trust with their clients to help them feel at ease with depositing their checks. Traditionally, customers would come into a bank and make a deposit while speaking with a teller. However, the digital age has shifted the banking paradigm in such a way, that consumers are now using new technology to view their finances and interact with their financial institutions.

Mobile and online banking in particular have changed the way consumers interact with their banks. There are fewer face-to-face interactions, but that's not a bad thing for local banks. In fact, according to Gallup's "2014 Retail Banking Survey," 36 percent of clients at domestic small and regional banks are actively engaged with their institution. Comparatively speaking, just 27 percent of consumers at large regional banks are engaged, while just 17 percent of national banks are engaged.

Not to say that community banks have it wrong, but as the information age progresses, community banks are in poll position to improve their industry-leading customer service. Here are three tips on how to do just that:

  1. Practice what you preach: The best way community banks can enhance their customer service is by engaging their employees first and foremost. A client-first culture is derived from within, meaning an institution's employees truly have to believe what they're selling. In this case, everyone from the president down to the tellers must deliver on the quality support they promise. What's more, the bank itself needs to create a culture that its employees enjoy working at because that type of engagement will shine through in a staff member's working persona.
  2. "Community banks are in poll position to improve their industry-leading customer service"

    Invest in the right infrastructure: While community banks lack the financial firepower of their larger counterparts, that's not to say they aren't able to invest in an IT infrastructure that will benefit their bottom line. For instance, community banks that partner with local merchants must offer robust reporting and real-time analytics - both of which can be provided by a certified payment processor. Banks that partner with a payment processor are equipping themselves with unique packaging and functionality that will best serve their business clients. According to Accenture, banks that use sophisticated analytics can create a new platform that not only helps their business partners, but everyday customers as well. The future of community banking customer service lies in data analysis.
  3. Keep track of customer satisfaction: A great way to keep track customer satisfaction is simply by asking how they feel about a particular service. Community banks should try and speak with their customers and truly see where they are succeeding and where there's room for improvement. While harvesting client sentiment isn't always easy, a quick survey can provide a plethora of insight into an operation and customer service reputation. Once a bank knows what to work on, it can start delivering even further quality service.

First American Payment Systems specializes in solutions for community banks. Learn how our expertise and partnerships such as IBAT have fueled growth for our community bank partners.

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