ABA Banking Journal - December 2010 - (Page 16)
ABA Community BAnking | cUstOmeR seRvIce
COMMUNITY BANK OF THE FUTURE: A CONTINUING SERIES
How good is your service?
Service standards have changed. Are you still setting the bar high enough?
By steve cOcheO, execUtIve edItOR
ichelle Gula makes her living serving community banks, and she’s horrified. She personally mystery shops branches and she thinks some CEOs would be equally horrified to see what she sometimes sees. “Everyone considers community banks to have good service,” says Gula, head of M.rae Associates. “But just being a community bank doesn’t mean you automatically have good service.” Gula has found some community banks offering service little better than the big-bank brethren they typically crow about competing with on the basis of service. Face it, she says, differentiation continues to be the key to community bank success. “It’s hard to come up with a product that just
your institution has,” adds Gula. Further, large banks, with their ability to be first out with new products, have also been stressing service. First Niagara and PNC are two examples Gula cites. “We community bankers think that our employees provide the best service,” says Brian Constable, executive vice-president and chief commercial banking officer at $700 million-assets Sunwest Bank, Tustin, Calif. “But just because I believe that, doesn’t mean it’s so.” The risks are huge. “One bad teller talks to 50 clients a day,” says Constable. If you lose five clients a month, he says, that’s catastrophic. More than ever, community bank leaders recognize the need for pre-
16 | ABA BANKING JOURNAL | December 2010
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