Community Banks And Credit Unions: Time To Make It Personal - The MSR Group

Personalizing your customer’s experience is especially key in the banking industry.

There’s a scene in an episode of “The Office” that exemplifies how mom-and-pop shops can still compete with tech-advanced mega-corporations. In the episode (dubbed “Traveling Salesman”), Jim and Dwight, salesmen for the regional paper company Dunder Mifflin, admit to a potential customer they’ll always lose a price war with their big-box competitors before they ask him how important customer service is to him. While Dwight dials up a competitor to try to demonstrably navigate its complicated automated system, the potential customer answers emphatically, “very.” Just then, Jim calls into Dunder Mifflin’s customer service and its lone customer-service rep answers immediately, “Dunder Mifflin customer service. This is Kelly.” Then Dwight adds, “Here’s my card. It’s my cell number, my pager number, my home number and my other pager number. I never take vacations. I never get sick. And I don’t celebrate any major holidays.” The customer then says, “All right, I get it,” and they shake hands on a deal.

Of course, the scene is played for comedic effect (after all, it’s a sitcom), but it supplies a real-life lesson, one that can be used as a blueprint for local banks forced to fend off encroaching behemoths. The one advantage local branches can (and should) have over the likes of Bank of America and Well Fargo—which has about 13,000 U.S. locations between them—is a genuine personal connection. We emphasize “genuine” because any lending institution knows enough about its customers to engage in small talk and asking about a customer’s kids when the banker has never met them isn’t just invasive, it’s plain creepy.

Ultimately, it’s the difference between asking how the weather is in Gretna, Nebraska and knowing that it’s unseasonably warm and to enjoy it while it lasts. Believe it or not, that sort of personal touch, especially when it comes from friendly faces in banks down streets you’ve driven past countless times in your lives matters.

That’s not to say local banks have a monopoly on personal connection. There is, however, sometimes a tendency for the banking behemoths to marginalize its importance and, instead, focus on microsites or tech innovation. What every bank needs to remember—regardless of where they’re headquartered—is authenticity can’t be faked. The empathy is only real when both parties can relate to the same experiences, and a lending institution focused solely on the mainland and not a Main Street can never do that.

So, the question is: Can you your bank provide the type of concierge-esque service that “Kelly” of “The Office” can? Because that’s what your customer wants, bank on it.


At MSR Group, we help banks know what their customers expect from their banking experience.  Learn more about our signature CX program, APECS.

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