2019 is right around the corner. What new technologies are progressive financial institutions looking to implement in the new year? Services that are strategic! More specifically, financial institutions need to show their best, most profitable customers that they are a strategic partner. For most banks, this means business customers, as they are still paying fees for the valuable services they consume. So, what would a bank offer that would cause a business customer to view it as strategic?

I believe there are three elements that can achieve this strategic partnership attitude:

1) If you help a business grow, get more revenue, get more customers
2) if you are able to help a business operate at a lower cost, saving them money
3) you are able to significantly improve the customer experience.

Let me address each of these options in more detail.

The perception of our customers is that we are ready, willing and able to assist when it comes to providing capital to fund growth. Need to open a new factory or invest in growing the business? Then the FI has a loan or line of credit to suit those needs. But there is no expectation that we would be creating services that would actually bring more clients to our business customers. But if you did, you certainly would be viewed as a strategic partner versus just a supplier of credit.

Is reducing cost for our business customers strategic? You bet. Remember the Ben Franklin saying, “A penny saved is a penny earned”? Ben was wrong: a penny saved is worth more than a penny earned due to the effect of taxes. When FIs can show businesses how they can become more efficient or drive specific costs out of doing business, the impact is a direct positive impact to the bottom line. When you help a business make more money, you become a strategic partner.

Finally, the customer experience is the aggregate of all of the touch points that a customer has with their financial institution. We tend to think of the User Experience (UX) as just a digital experience issue but in fact it is every channel, every touch point. Think of your (mostly) unused branch and how it could be partially converted to a business resource center. And yes, your digital footprint matters. Especially when it comes to making it easy to matriculate a small business across a continuum of features within one cash management / treasury system.

Stay tuned for more blog posts in this series. And focus on how your institution will become strategic to your business customers.