3 minute read

Community banks and credit unions have always been ahead of big banks when it comes to developing relationships with everyday customers/members. Yet, many consumers haven’t been looking to establish a relationship, viewing the partnership in a more transactional manner. Customers simply want to be able to access their money whenever they want – branches near to work or home (even though they rarely go inside), convenient ATMs (even though they don’t use them as often as they think) and a solid mobile/online banking experience.

Perhaps the lack of desire for banking relationships is because financial institutions haven’t talked to customers in a compelling and relatable way. What consumers really want is a partner who can help solve their problems, reach their goals and alleviate their fears. And, community banks and credit unions are uniquely positioned to help.

As COVID-19 has stoked growing financial fears, big bank behavior is again under scrutiny. Most recently, many have been criticized for prioritizing their largest clients for their Paycheck Protection Program funds, leaving small business owners floundering. Some of these same banks are even discontinuing HELOC programs, which could provide a financial lifeline for many families.

Here’s one business owner’s experience with trying to get their PPP funds from his “big bank” partner and his intent to switch banks as a result. And, while this person talks about his business banking relationship, business owners are consumers too, and they share their experiences with their wide network.

While there certainly is consumer financial uneasiness, it doesn’t mean people stop looking for banking products to help them solve present-day problems or fulfill their hopes and dreams. They’re actually looking a lot – especially in lending. In April, one Borshoff client received the highest number of online applications in history. Of course, branches are closed to walk-in traffic, but time will tell whether this trend will continue even after things open up again.

The search for banking products hasn’t dried up – and neither should your marketing budget or your attempts to connect to customers or potential customers. What problems are you solving for customers today? What problems do you see solving down the road? If you’re considering a relationship and problem-solving strategy, just don’t run ads that look like everyone else.

Look for ways to be relatable and meet peoples’ specific needs. After all, many consumers lack basic financial or banking product literacy. Now is a time to educate them about your products and how they might help their current situation. What are some of the ways that a HELOC can help? What are the benefits of taking advantage of low interest rates? How can you help people consolidate debt at lower interest rates?

While no one can predict with total certainty how COVID-19 will impact the banking industry, there will certainly be plenty of opportunities to provide value to consumers as their needs continue to grow and evolve. The banks who will come out on top are those who make the effort to genuinely relate to customers while meeting their needs in new and innovative ways.

Learn more about Borshoff’s work with banks and credit unions – https://borshoff.biz/industries/