Banks build success on customer relationships

In an age of massive mergers and acquisitions, it is more important than ever to identify a banking partner with the optimal mixture of tradition and community customer relations.

Hallmark to our business climate in New Hampshire, providing insightful customer service is key to corporate success. Many institutions have grown exponentially over the last decade, but very few have retained a relationship-building model of customer service.

It is simply a matter of differing business models. Yet many customers, large and small, are beginning to take notice. Banking was born as an industry based on personal relationships between customers and bankers. Business deals were routinely closed with a handshake. Today, customers are often pressed into a mold to fit the operational machinery of a bank. Despite the new landscape of today’s banking industry, customers fondly remember the personal contact of their banker.

Nationally, a handful of major banks have maintained relationship-building as a cornerstone to their operational philosophy. However, many others have lost this vital focus on the simple details of smart customer service. Keen attention to the individual needs of customers will pay great dividends in the long run.

That said, corporate customers cannot merely base their banking choices on goodwill and customer service alone. An extensive menu of versatility is imperative for commercial operations with complex cash management needs. Many clients with diverse tactical requirements seek the uncommon balance of large banking products and “community-style” customer service. Here are some key points to keep in mind when searching for a banking partner.

Many chief financial officers remark on the continually changing face of the banking industry, often expressing frustration with inconsistencies in banking service. They want to know their bank of choice is committed to their business and will be able to provide uninterrupted continuous service with an approach tailored to fit their operation.

Savvy companies look for a few prime indicators when navigating the wide field of banking choices. Seeking references from a prospective banking partner is an excellent method of hearing about their services from the client perspective. Truly exceptional banks pay close attention to customer satisfaction, and that will echo loudly from clientele.

Varying demands

More than stability of a banking establishment, customers often focus their search for banking teams with a combination of expertise and commitment. Are key executives distinguished experts in their field? Did the bank invest in building a comprehensive team to meet the full range of client needs? In today’s banking climate, it is especially important that clients feel supported by a stable banking partner with the ability and willingness to offer thoughtful business solutions and address diverse operational needs.

In addition to operational strength, customers also seek flexibility to satisfy varying demands. Each day, businesses are placed under incredible stress to bend for consumer demands, changing markets, new competition and many other forces. They need a banking partner who understands the value of operational flexibility and is willing to accommodate the shifting nature of business, here in New Hampshire and beyond.

Without keen vision for building relationships, many banks place additional stress on clients to fit pre-determined banking models. Businesses look for banks that go the extra mile to meet the needs of their clients on convenient terms. This provides a tailored banking experience that maximizes both time and money.

As an industry, banking rests on a solid foundation of personal relationships. All too often, the speed of the present business world makes it challenging to provide the personal interaction necessary to sustain meaningful business relationships. Customers need to be able to pick up a phone and know that they can reach their banker at will. They need timely solutions to fit their needs. Banks with a strong investment in relationship-building are equipped to provide this level of service, regardless of their size.

With a marketplace of choices, today’s banking customers in New Hampshire can be selective – and should be. Search for the most advantageous mixture of experience and capability, but be very mindful of a bank’s customer service philosophy. This will ensure full access to high-quality banking products and services, coupled with specific attention to your business needs. In other words, don’t simply locate a bank- discover a banking partner.

Joseph Carelli is senior vice president/director of commercial banking for Citizens Bank New Hampshire.

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