3 Things Business Customers Want From Their Banks

Just like the best community bankers, we want to be the best for our customers: the community banks powering small businesses across the country. So reviews really matter.

Our most energizing reviews are the comments that community banks relay to us from their business customers, specifically regarding their business credit application experience. You are the best banker you can be when business customers are ecstatic about the end-to-end business credit application experience. What makes business customers go out of their way to tell a community banker how happy they are?

To answer that, let’s take a look at the reasons that really help a small business owner thrive. Take Rachel, a cafe owner looking to expand her operations. Here are three things that would make you a hero in her eyes:

1. Applying for Credit Feels as Easy as Ordering Takeout
Maybe it won’t be quite as easy as a takeout order, but the experience can have many things in common. Efforts to digitize the Paycheck Protection Program, along with the customer experience for a whole host of other industries, have permanently re-trained business customers to expect more. She can even sign up for a full-fledged marketing platform in mere minutes online. Business credit application that attempt to replicate something similar include:

  • A state-of-the-art application on the bank’s business product website.
  • The application for credit follows a logical, intuitive flow, with no questions that could stump the applicant or require unnecessary precision.
  • An easy way to checking the loan status. The platform offers a way to login to check the status, revise the application once it is submitted and add documents. Prospective borrowers know where their application stands every step along the way.

2. Quick Decisioning From the Bank
This does not mean that every applicant is ultimately approved. But a fantastic online digital experience helps applicants self-select away from what would never have a chance. Completed applications are thorough and include all the data and documentation necessary to tell the applicant where she stands in a day or two. Your bank may even be able to fund her that much more quickly, generating incredible satisfaction from business owners.

3. Closing is Electronic
Not unlike a mortgage, loan closing can be fully electronic — with a lot fewer forms. Customers, like Rachel, love that. The PPP closing was largely electronic for many business owners nationwide. Why should they ever go back?

Of course, these three things only happen when your bank’s underwriting team has everything they need at their fingertips: all documents and data in one place and a decisioning engine with a recommended offer while avoiding the “black box decisioning” from artificial intelligence. A robust analysis that leaves no detail to chance and recommends quality decisions can help your bank finalize decisions. You answer your business customer in mere days.

To do that, consider adding a nimble platform that is both quickly enabled and valued priced. Your bankers are the trusted advisor to your valued business customer; you can be the hero with your bank.

Creating Next Generation Cultures to Attract Next Generation Talent

recruitment-5-12-17.pngMany directors believe it’s important for their institutions to address the shortage of younger financial services talent, yet there’s often a lack of urgency around working on this future problem. Consider this: About 40 percent of the community banking workforce will consist of millennials within the next five years. In order to stay relevant, community banks not only need to ensure they are attracting and retaining millennials as customers, but also as employees. It’s no secret that for millennials, banking isn’t exactly the sexiest industry for employment opportunities. The good news is that as a service industry, banking has ample opportunity to exercise some creativity in its culture. There are five key areas to address now that will help attract and retain millennials to the community banking world.

Embrace cognitive diversity in the workplace. The bottom line is that millennials embrace diversity; not only in the traditional sense, but they also seek cognitive diversity within the workplace. This means that they want to be included and accepted for their thoughts and opinions. This group seeks a collaborative environment where they can impact work, bring value to the organization, and be recognized—through compensation and other means—for their efforts and ideas. Consider ways to bring employees into the decision-making fold at all levels. This approach actually has a secondary benefit: by allowing the broad workforce to feel empowered to create and implement ideas, banks can also begin to address the need for innovation and the need to develop competitive differentiation in order to remain successful.

Focus on social responsibility. It’s well known that millennials focus on a company’s social responsibility when evaluating them as an employer. It is also known that ethics and integrity are important criteria, and that millennials are skeptical of the financial services industry in the wake of the mortgage crisis and the Wells Fargo scandal. Community banks in particular have ample opportunity to take meaningful action in the communities they serve and allow millennials to participate in socially beneficial causes they believe in. Allowing for input and ideas in determining what the organization will focus on and offering non-cash benefits like time off to volunteer can make this generation feel good about the work they’re doing and may help change the perception of banking as a career choice.

Invest in career development. Millennials want to take control and actively lead their career development. Banks can provide a multitude of opportunities to strengthen skills and allow millennials to develop as leaders. Millennials are looking for a coach, rather than a “boss,” which they define as someone who is invested in their success. Establishing mentorships and leadership programs, provide on-the-job training and reinforce the company’s commitment to individual growth.

Increase Transparency. Transparency is vital to establishing trust and loyalty with this generation and it’s a key to longer job tenure. An employer can provide transparency by ensuring millennials understand how their role contributes to the bank’s success and how success is rewarded. It is important to collaborate to establish short- and long-term goals and detail the path to reach these goals, including training and opportunities for development. Millennials thrive on feedback and consistent dialog. Providing an avenue for two-way communication will help ensure success in this area and keep everyone engaged.

Align total rewards and performance management programs. As with most employees, effective compensation plans and performance management programs can help attract, retain and motivate millennials. Providing a competitive base salary may not be at the top of their priority list, but certainly being rewarded for performance is important. In conjunction with regular feedback, recognition and incentive awards should also be a part of the compensation framework. Instead of annual performance reviews, it may be more prudent to provide frequent check-ins and real-time feedback. In addition, millennials welcome the opportunity to receive input on performance from peers and others in the organization.

The bottom line is that banks must create an engaging workplace culture where millennials feel welcomed, valued and rewarded. Many banks have taken the lead on creating advisory boards consisting of millennials (both employees and people from the community) to ensure that they’re doing the right things to attract and retain this generation as customers and as employees. Any bank that can be successful in achieving this will have created a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Finding Talent For The Bank’s Future

CEO succession planning should be a top priority for a bank’s board of directors, but many institutions lack a plan. J. Scott Petty of Chartwell Partners outlines how to prepare for the short and long-term transition of the CEO and addresses recruiting new board talent.

  • Developing a Succession Plan
  • Finding Diverse and Talented Directors