Digital banking for SMEs requires a human touch
For millions of small business owners during the pandemic, it’s credit unions (CUs) and community banks that have come to the rescue, with always-on customer service and new products and services tailored to help. small and medium enterprises. businesses (SMEs) not only survive, but thrive.
NCR President Doug Brown told Karen Webster that the human touch, combined with omnichannel offerings, can give community-minded financial institutions (FIs) a leg up on the competition when the pandemic is (hopefully) just a memory.
Said Brown: “They know more about customer business than any neobank, any alternative bank, any FinTech.”
Take Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, for example. Billions of dollars must have ended up in the coffers of SMEs through online channels during a massive economic crisis.
“It was something that no institution thought it could do,” Brown said.
And yet, community banks and CUs rose to the challenge, recording high customer satisfaction scores as they processed billions of dollars in loans and took those loans onto their balance sheets.
And at the same time, he said, these UCs and community banks never lost their focus on providing business customers with the help they needed, through customer call centers, interactive sessions and a suite of services ranging from transactions to cash management in the back office.
These banks did it all on their own, as recent data from PYMNTS shows that 73% of SMEs said their banks had made changes proactively, reaching out to customers throughout the economic havoc wrought by COVID-19. 19.
Initially, there was a bit of a “push” needed. Businesses needed to be encouraged to try something new, especially with digital services. But once they tried these new technology offerings, they were hooked, especially in omnichannel environments.
Take the ATM, for example. Conventional wisdom holds that the ATM is just a cash machine. But Brown noted that the ATM has now become, for consumers and business customers, a flexible instrument of video interactions, customer service and, yes, cash (which still has its place in the economy, sure).
Now, with the pandemic receding, SMEs, even as the economy reopens, will keep a significant amount of digital banking business firmly in place (84% of SMEs said this). However, around a third of SMEs might be inclined to switch depending on what is on offer. So, Brown said, UCs and community banks must continually strive to improve the lives of small businesses.
Omnichannel — but also Digital Everywhere
“It’s better to embrace the digital approach everywhere, rather than weeding out and forcing people into things they’re not ready for,” he said.
This can be done, at least in part, through direct lines of communication between CUs and the community. The key word is community, Brown said — and UCs and community banks are helping their business customers connect more fully to their communities when needed.
UCs and associative actors plan to firmly anchor these digital behaviors, helping to shape the connected economy. Even the government is getting more involved, he said, where the Veterans Administration, for example, forecast 2 million appointments virtually last year, an astronomical increase from the 20,000 forecast last year. previous.
“The digital banking trend is here to stay,” Brown said.
When it comes to the next digital frontiers, he said, there is “incredible interest in crypto” from consumers and businesses. NCR’s own banking customers are racing to understand cryptos and how to embrace them, integrating digital offerings into their products and services. In the background, banks are struggling with workforce management, helping corporate clients adapt to ongoing changes in work-from-home/hybrid business models.
As he put it, “If you as a bank can save this small business an hour of their day, that’s invaluable because they can reinvest that valuable time and effort back into their operations.”