Standing out in an extremely competitive market, especially for small to medium entities, requires proactivity. It means finding creative ways to retain your current customer base and attract new customers. Don’t let the lack of a multi-million-dollar marketing budget, a large staff, or a wide-reach advertising campaign deter you from success.
Get back to the basics and focus on the essential elements that will take you to the top, (excellent customer service and community involvement). Because you are not a huge conglomerate, you have the advantage of getting up close and personal; becoming part of the community you serve.
Below are a few approaches small financial institutions and credit unions are using with excellent results.
So how do you become part of a community? Show your customers and prospects that you value them not just for their business, but as a fellow human being. Now is the time to think out of the box, and try new methods that will differentiate your company from your competitors.
1. Branding: It’s time to re-brand your organization with changes consistent across all print and digital platforms. Before doing so, pull together a focus group and find out what “community” means to the people in your community and take it to the next level.
• What is the town known for? Is there a flower, a product, or a symbol that resonates with the community? Interweave this element into your branding.
• A focus group or two can give you insight into what will make you the “go-to” for all banking needs.
2. Philanthropy: Post a public list that defines the organizations in the community that you support. You can also declare a “charity day” and allow employees to get down and dirty with a community project.
3. Scholarships: Offer scholarships to folks in your community.
4. Seminars: Provide one-on-one home buying seminars to residents.
1. Does your staff have all the resources to do their jobs effectively?
• An organized data system that’s kept up-to-date with the latest customer information will allow staff to easily and quickly service a customer.
• Find out what motivates your employees, what makes them happy, and how you can provide the ultimate work culture. Remember, customers can sense a smile on the other end of the phone from happy employees.
2. Self-Service: Customers are more self-reliant and tech-savvy than ever before. They often prefer to complete a transaction via online access to their accounts. Be sure to provide links for tech support that are easy to locate.
3. Education: Provide ongoing financial literacy education to your current and potential members; help them understand your products and services. Distribute a print or online newsletter and regularly post blogs. The more your members know about your services, the more you are likely to get additional business.
4. Get personal: Sending old-fashioned, hand-written notes to customers will go the distance and make you stand out, especially in this super-digital world.
In summary, understand that you don’t have to compete with the big boys to be successful. Get community-focused and raise the bar for the level of customer service you provide, and your institution will become a household name. Happy clients refer their family members and friends.
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