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How Financial Institutions Focus on Customers Is Key

Mary Ellen Biery
August 26, 2019
Read Time: 0 min

The community bank model is built around customer service, but for many bank and credit union customers, the definition of “good service” has been changing over the last couple of decades.

While good service 20 years ago might have focused on having fully staffed branches, today it more likely involves a blend of digital technology and face-to-face contact with staff.

This combination of technology and human interaction, how community financial institutions are using them and other efforts to achieve client satisfaction, will be the focus of a panel discussion next month at the 2019 ThinkBIG Conference in Orlando, Florida. “Client Focus in Your Financial Institution” will feature community bank executives discussing how their institutions are working to drive the client experience and address these technology challenges. The session is among several panel discussions and speaker sessions that are part of the Lending + Credit Risk track at the conference, hosted by Abrigo Sept. 24-26.

Panelists will be Jill Hudson, Vice President & Operations Officer at Vision Bank in Ada, Oklahoma, Brandon McBay, Senior Vice President at Southern States Bank in Anniston, Alabama, and Laura Broderick, Chief Marketing Officer at Abrigo. Alison Trapp, Abrigo’s Director of Client Education, will moderate the discussion.

“During this panel discussion, I expect we will cover some of the tools that financial institutions are using to develop customer relationships, and we’ll tackle some of the pain points that come with trying to address both the digital needs and the desire for personal interaction,” says Trapp.

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The 2018 J.D. Power U.S. Direct Banking Satisfaction Study found that direct banks, or branchless banks that operate online, earned a higher satisfaction score among U.S. customers than traditional retail banks earned in the firm’s study of retail banking satisfaction. However, digital banks are primarily used as secondary banks, and those types of customers are less engaged with the banks than are primary banking customers. This highlights the challenge of needing to offer digital services but also maintain a primary relationship with customers.

Meanwhile, the 2018 Small Business Credit Survey by the Federal Reserve banks indicates traditional financial institutions can take a lesson from digital lenders in some ways. The survey found higher levels of dissatisfaction with the wait times on credit decisions and with difficult application processes at traditional banks and credit unions than at online lenders.

Some financial institutions, such as Vision Bank, have taken steps to speed lending decisions by automating steps of the process. Vision Bank uses credit software that creates customized credit memos automatically and automates other workflows, while allowing the bank to maintain personal interaction during the times and stages customers desire it.

“Hearing from these bankers at the conference about their experiences will provide fresh ideas for reaching customers and keeping them,” Trapp says. “Undoubtedly, it will reassure some in the audience that customer service will remain what separates community financial institutions from alt lenders.”

To learn more about the other lending and credit risk topics during the conference, see the agenda.

The other ThinkBIG conference track, CECL + Portfolio Risk, will feature panel discussions on the impact of the current expected credit loss model or CECL, top auditor concerns about the allowance for loan and lease losses, and other topics.

For more information on ThinkBIG sessions and for registration, visit


About the Author

Mary Ellen Biery

Senior Strategist & Content Manager
Mary Ellen Biery is Senior Strategist & Content Manager at Abrigo, where she works with advisors and other experts to develop whitepapers, original research, and other resources that help financial institutions drive growth and manage risk. A former equities reporter for Dow Jones Newswires whose work has been published in

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About Abrigo

Abrigo enables U.S. financial institutions to support their communities through technology that fights financial crime, grows loans and deposits, and optimizes risk. Abrigo's platform centralizes the institution's data, creates a digital user experience, ensures compliance, and delivers efficiency for scale and profitable growth.

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