When banks and credit unions look at the topic of customer satisfaction, most likely they are thinking about their consumer customers – students, retirees, and everyone in between. But what about business customers? A new business is started every minute in the U.S., and some predict that over half the labor market will be self-employed by 2020. This creates a huge opportunity for banks to fill these entrepreneurs’ needs.
Banks who want a piece of the small & mid-sized business pie need to devote attention and resources to the business customer experience just as they would to consumers. Business and consumer customers walk through the same door into the same branch, but their journeys, needs, and expectations diverge from there.
What do business banking customers value?
By and large, the same basic elements apply to both consumer and business banking customers – friendly and competent customer service, product availability and associated fees, etc. — but they look at those elements from different angles.
For example, the availability and quality of mobile and online banking tools are valuable drivers of satisfaction to both consumers and businesses, but they’ll be using them very differently. It’s unlikely that the same portal will meet both of their needs. And while the consumer segment has embraced digital banking readily, small business banking customers still favor visiting a branch to conduct their affairs.
Likewise, a consumer may not be bothered if they interact with different faces each time they perform a transaction as long as the quality is reliable, while business owners are more comfortable with an ongoing, consistent relationship with the same person or team of people. One survey found that small- and mid-sized businesses cited their relationship manager as the most important point of contact with their bank — more important than online banking by a wide margin.
Business owners, especially small businesses and start-ups, don’t just need someone to handle a transaction; they are looking for a partner to help them navigate the complexities of things like payroll, taxes, cash flow, and SBA loans. Consistency helps build and maintain trust, particularly if the business hits a rough patch and needs some flexibility or extra help.
Just like consumers, business customers want to feel understood on an individual and specific level, and want service that’s personalized to them. A later survey by J.D. Power & Associates, referenced here, found that business customers who felt that their relationship manager ‘completely understands’ their business were far more likely to say they’d definitely stick with their bank than those who felt less understood – 47% vs. 19%.
Follow the logic.
The correlation between feeling understood and sticking around as a customer should not come as a surprise. But does that mean banks are going out of the way to deeply understand the needs of their business customers? J.D. Power has found that overall small business banking satisfaction is trending upward in the last five years, with big and mid-size banks eking out a lead over regional and community banks, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
To see things from the business owner’s point of view, you might also be interested in this guide from the Wall Street Journal: How to Choose a Bank for Your Business. Using those criteria, do you think a business owner would feel compelled to choose your institution?
CSP specializes in customizing your customer experience to drive satisfaction among your customers, consumer and business alike. If you see room for improvement at your institution, contact us or call (800) 841-7954 ext:101 to start a discussion about your concerns.