Avoiding the Community Bank Service Gap

22 July, 2014 (12:33) | Blog | By: admin

By Bob Gibson

Community banks have long differentiated themselves by personalized, local service. But what happens when the level of service community banks provide to customers isn’t matched by the service level received from vendors?

If core, customer-facing technology — such as ATMs or self-service kiosks — isn’t backed by the same local, personalized service that community banks themselves provide, it can lead to critical operational and customer satisfaction issues, not to mention difficulty in achieving a true ROI from their technology investment.

Equipment service is critical to ensure that operational efficiency and customer service remain high. In today’s fast-paced environment, community bank customers don’t have the patience for “out-of-order” or slow-performing equipment. Unfortunately, many community banks have fallen into a service gap, which can be anything from multiple service tickets or requests, to a seemingly endless cycle of being routed to different contacts, to unreturned or ignored phone calls. In the financial services industry, this service gap is not only frustrating; it also can harm your institution’s reputation and bottom line.

Investing in the latest technology is not a sure-fire way to avoid the service gap, however. Even best-in-class machines require periodic maintenance to keep them operating at peak efficiency, as well as immediate attention to handle any necessary repairs. This level of support can only be achieved by partnering with a vendor that offers local, highly personalized service. This includes technicians who work closely with you to understand how the technology is working in your branch, what new features are most appropriate for your needs, and how to turn these insights into action.

If your branch is experiencing service-related issues with core technology, it’s time to ask yourself: What is the cost to my bank in terms of lost revenue, decreased customer satisfaction and declining ROI?

The cost to replace poorly supported equipment can oftentimes be less than anticipated. Once you’ve made the decision to replace your technology, select a vendor that offers an integrated approach to sales and service. This will ensure maximum consistency, reliability and convenience that will increase the performance of your technology investment.

An integrated approach to service from your vendor should include:

  • Multi-level support: Look for highly trained service technicians who can handle routine preventive maintenance and any issues that require immediate attention, as well as a customized service-level support backed by knowledgeable, experienced service managers at every branch and a dedicated advanced technical support department at the corporate offices.
  • Fast, easy access to service: Be sure a single phone call allows quick dispatch for emergency service calls and the best-possible response times. The vendor also should have a reliable method in place for escalating service problems that are not resolved satisfactorily.
  • Consistency of service and equipment: Manufacturer-trained technicians have the most up-to-date working knowledge of the equipment. Moreover, request the availability of only authorized spare parts stocked at multiple levels (e.g., car stock, local branch stock and factory stock), including an emergency ordering system to ensure that parts required for repairs are readily available.
  • Preventive maintenance: Require a comprehensive preventative maintenance agreement that helps improve ROI and makes it easy to budget operating costs.

The community bank service gap can be avoided by carefully selecting a vendor that can deliver the same level of service and support that you provide to your customers. Whether you’re in the process of replacing existing ATM equipment or evaluating additional or new technology, vendor service must be a top consideration.

Bob Gibson is vice president, branch operations, at Cummins Allison.

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