Satisfying customers can be a nettlesome needle to thread. In an era of instant gratification, where reams of data are literally just a point-and-click away, businesses must negotiate a delicate balance of delivering in a big way with regard to speed and responsiveness, all while maintaining the custom-built, personalized service model. In short, businesses must think like they're big, but serve like they're small.
Credit unions and banks are no different. Customers who frequent their branches want a personalized experience but also the tech-driven conveniences as driven by the very largest among the FIs.
"There's little room for error when it comes to customer satisfaction."
Paul McAdam, senior director of regional banking in the financial services practice at J.D. Power, noted that today's banks – big and small – are largely competing over the same clientele and going to various lengths to secure their loyalty, with little room for error.
"The industry is really now in a state of parity from a customer satisfaction standpoint," McAdam explained in a video blog. "Big banks, regional banks and midsized banks; their overall satisfaction scores are within a few points of each other. This has occurred because the largest banks have done a much better job in recent years of gaining ground with certain customer segments and certain customer demographics."
Indeed, in a recent Direct Banking Satisfaction Study spearheaded by J.D. Power, the overall satisfaction score among direct banks – on a 1,000-point scale – was 865. That's 57 points higher than branch-based retail banking facilities. This represents growth opportunities because as successful as branches are, there's always room for improvement.
More resources, uninspiring results
Part of the reason for big banks' success is their size. In other words, they have the resources to offer the cutting-edge services that their customers want, such as in-branch automation, online banking and other convenience-intensive amenities. amenities. However, larger institutions are increasingly recognizing that technology needs to be complemented by focused personal attention. This is why branchless banks, despite higher overall satisfaction scores, have recently begun losing ground to traditional retail banks. They simply fall short with regard to understanding and accommodating customer needs, according to a recent Direct Banking Satisfaction Study done by J.D. Power.
Smaller FIs relate to their customers well
If there's any arena where small banks and credit unions thrive, it's with customer relations. And according to a Samsung Electronics poll, this is critical to their success. Across virtually all generations, consumers prefer to go to branch and credit union facilities for financial advice. Specifically, 77 percent of respondents said they sought out face-to-face interaction for more involved services.
Julie Godfrey, lead of financial services solutions and innovation at Samsung, said banks do all too often place all their eggs in one basket, investing in convenience-oriented channels but neglecting the interpersonal aspect to branch-based banking that customers rarely receive from the big guys. This is a lost opportunity. Yes, technology must surely be embraced, but all FIs must also recognize that personal service is often their competitive differentiator.
"These results highlight the continued premium placed on face-to-face interactions when it comes to banking," said Bob Meara, an analyst at the consulting and research firm Celent. "[Therefore] as these institutions continue to modernize, they must continue to invest in delivering excellent customer service."
Service as the bridge between worlds big and small
In other words, because customers want it all in today's one-stop shopping era, banking facilities must walk the tightrope of providing technical solutions that big banks have the capacity to invest in, all while getting back to the basics of enhanced personal relationships with customers in their branches. As these and other polls have shown, high-quality customer service is often imitated, but rarely duplicated.
That's where BranchServ acts as a bridge. With a customer base of well over 12,000 bank and credit union branches, we think of ourselves as big given that three of of our customers are among the U.S.' top 10 largest banking networks. Few other vendors can attest to this, which speaks to our expertise and industry recognition.
Given our portfolio, we know how to think big while serving small. Our goal is to provide a comprehensive suite of complimentary bank and credit union services that fuel freedom and flexibility to balance customer-centric and performance focused offerings. From asset protection, drive-up security and specialized solutions such as transitional equipment management, BranchServ handles it all to help optimize success.