Innovation requires understanding your client base and providing differentiated services that clients will find value in. Banks must innovate and be nimble to address emerging client needs in the neighborhoods they serve. As community banks, we must recognize and be responsive to what our clients are demanding of us. Innovation efforts should focus on the client experience in terms of both the physical engagement within the bank space as well as how we address the personal relationship with our clients. Key tenets of branch innovation are: showing appreciation for your customers, minimizing the difference between self-service to fully assisted operations, implementing universal bankers, and integrating architecture that reflects the strategy of your bank.
Start by asking, “What services should we provide that offer value to our clients?” For example, Lead Bank has answered this question by creating a standalone division of the bank, Lead Business Advisors, that provides a range of services to business owners and their business. Services include business bookkeeping, operational and financial consulting as well as small business brokerage advice. Lead Business Advisors (LBA) is another way we give value to our clients – by providing more than just traditional banking services that clients expect.
Providing more services than clients expect also feeds directly into how banks respect and show appreciation toward their clients. The perennial challenge in the industry is for banks to find ways to foster deeper and more satisfying relationships with clients. There are silos between banking services – front line services and lending, not to mention wealth management. These silos create friction for clients and reasons for clients to seek an alternative banking relationship.
For those clients that choose a deep and extensive relationship with your bank, it is important to demonstrate the value of your bank to clients. At Lead Bank, we addressed this issue head on by offering a membership program. We provide clients a wide range of discounts on treasury and bookkeeping services in addition to cash back on loan interest paid for those clients that choose a deep and extensive relationship with us.
Banks should train their Bankers to assist clients with a wide variety of services from basic checking and savings to lending without handing the relationship off to another banking officer. The concept of universal banking is important and another example of creating innovation when thinking about the client’s relationship with his/her Banker.
Earlier, I mentioned physical engagement within the branch space. It is important to allow the client to engage with the bank in an omni-channel experience and avoid any friction points. At Lead Bank, for example, physical location represents ground floor innovation where the digital, online and personal direct experience works together in a seamless manner. This is the perfect illustration in which Lead Bank minimizes the differences between self-service to fully assisted.
Josh Rowland is the Vice Chairman of Lead Bank, a Missouri-chartered commercial bank with three locations in and around Kansas City, Missouri. Josh also serves as the Executive Director of Lead Business Advisors, a division of Lead Bank that advises companies on strategic planning, reorganizations and financing as well as the Executive Director of Lead Ventures, an early stage investment group.