In communities across America, community banks like yours are an integral part of Main Street U.S.A, and of the local and national economy. Your institution fulfills critical needs from providing traditional banking services in small towns and rural communities to providing specialized loan products to small business owners and farmers. In this way, and many others, community banks like yours help their customers get ahead in their corner of the world.
While an important function of any community bank, the process of attaining a business loan can be stressful for your customers. It’s also one of the areas that community banks most keenly feel the tension between the pressure to modernize and the need for good old-fashioned customer service. But lending doesn’t have to be stressful, and service and innovation can go hand in hand. Here are a few key tactics your community bank can implement to make the business lending process more efficient and less stressful for your customers.
How Can You Make Business Lending Better?
Streamline the Process with Automation
There is a myth that automation is only for big banks—some believe that only large institutions have the resources and scale to take advantage of new technologies, or that automating processes contributes to an impersonal customer experience. The truth is that modern automation tools can improve productivity and consistency across the organization, helping community banks compete with fewer liabilities and lower risk at a reduced cost. By outsourcing simpler tasks within the lending process to an automated system, your staff is free to focus on the most important part of the process: the customer. The customer will also benefit from shorter response times, fewer errors, and an overall smoother process.
Connect Digital and Physical Experiences:
Community bank branches remain a critical touchpoint for customers to access personal financial advice and get help with complex banking services. According to a PwC report, 80% of American consumers report that speed and convenience are among the most important factors in the customer experience. However, due to complex processes, bankers haven’t always had the ability to deliver convenience or speed in their local branches. While some customers will prefer the convenience of an online interface, many, especially in rural markets, insist on face-to-face interaction.
Consider offering your customers the option to access their application and its status online or by visiting a nearby branch; whichever is best suited for their needs. Even the most advanced, streamlined technology can be problematic from time to time, so dedicate some of your bank’s resources to helping customers with technical difficulties as needed.
Lean into Relationships
Megabank loan officers can apply impersonal qualification criteria, such as credit scores or specific income levels, without regard to individual circumstances. But what sets community banks apart from the too-big-to-fail institutions is the relationships they build with their customers and community. Community bank officers know their customers and can provide a level of personalized service and support that is just not feasible at a larger institution. Building trust with customers will help them feel more at ease with the process and lead to a less stressful, more satisfying experience.
Educate Your Staff
Educating staff at all levels with the latest technologies is mandatory to get the most out of your investment. Regular training sessions should be conducted to help them better utilize your technology of choice, as well as on the little things they can do every day to create a better banking experience for customers. Make sure you’re always encouraging your staff to contribute their ideas and offer a reward for their participation.
At ICBB, our purpose is to help Community banks cut costs, utilize their staff more efficiently, and find ways to help increase their earnings. For more information on ICBB’s products and services please contact one of our account executives.