“Someone to tell it to is one of the fundamental needs of human beings.” —Miles Franklin
It is a well-known fact that most people thrive on positive interaction with one another. Since grade school, we have been told that smiling at someone can positively affect their day and form a chain reaction, impacting the next person they smile at, and so on.
The same principles of relationship building apply not only to the personal relationships one develops and maintains, but also to professional relationships. It is critical that the relationship you build with your local banker is deemed a worthwhile priority. Is there someone you feel comfortable talking to at your local bank? Or do you feel that you are overlooked, or identified only by your account number?
In today’s society, it is becoming increasingly rare to physically go into your bank building to complete transactions, but for those who do, the personal interaction can be very beneficial. Our human nature is predisposed to engage in conversation when face-to-face with one another—that is the first fundamental step in starting a relationship. People like to do business with people they know and like.
Banking at a community bank offers a sense of security and the feeling that “everyone knows your name” and cares about your well-being. A recent Gallup study surveyed more than 38,000 customers of over 175 financial institutions throughout the United States and asked if they had a particular employee (teller, lender, etc.) that they like to work with when they go to the bank. Over 60 percent of those surveyed answered “yes,” reaffirming the importance of these relationships.
Four hierarchical needs must be met before true engagement with one another begins, especially in a business relationship.
- Confidence. One having confidence believes that the company or brand delivers on its promises and is a name that the customer can trust.
- Integrity. Integrity reflects the belief that the company always treats customers and resolves problems fairly.
- Pride. Pride is the degree to which the customer feels respected and how he or she feels about being associated with the company.
- Passion. Passionate customers think the company is “perfect for me” and cannot imagine being without it.
Keeping in mind the four hierarchical needs of relationship building and the value placed on each need, the study also emphasized an important discovery: if you want to create excellence, you must study excellence. Today, excellence is often lost in the translation of convenience, efficiency and the chaos that accompanies day-to-day life. Relationships must be built. Even if your bank offers online services with the convenience you have come to expect, is someone there when you need them? Or are you lost in an automated system? What type of relationships does your bank build—ones of expediency or ones of excellence?
Like any relationship, the one you have with your bank and your banker must be a two-way street. One must be willing to give, as well as take. You cannot expect your banker to understand your business as a whole, your goals for success and the struggles that arise when they have never taken a step inside your building. It is imperative that you invite them in, share your goals and concerns, and let them come alongside you to provide direction. Your local banker is an advocate for you and should be viewed as an extension of your team (whether business or personal). You should feel like a priority to your banker, and they will take the time to really get to know you and your business if you take the time to show them. The relationship should truly be a win-win for you both.
The foundation of banking relationships is built on one premise: you need them and they need you. The banking industry has changed radically, and fostering a relationship with your lender is one of the most important alliances you can make. At some point, everyone needs advice, guidance or service to help reach financial goals. If you don’t feel comfortable with someone at your bank, who will give you the sound input you need?
Thirty-seven percent of bank customers surveyed in the aforementioned poll indicated that they had a particular employee they liked to work with at their bank. Of those respondents, over 40 percent acknowledged that their personal banker was a friend to them, understood their financial goals, wants the best for them, keeps them informed of new opportunities, and makes them proud of where they bank. Seventy percent indicated that they find their banker to be knowledgeable about the bank’s products and services, and 77 percent feel that their personal banker is trustworthy—further evidence that the tried and true, face-to-face, personal interaction is the way to go.
Here is some advice for building your banking relationship:
- Schedule a meeting. Typically, a quarterly visit with your banker when you are doing well is appropriate, but when you’re experiencing cash flow problems, those visits may be more frequent.
- Ask questions. Seek to fully understand your financial position. Your banker is there to help you. Ask as many questions as it takes for you to feel confident in your understanding.
- Be open and honest. The last thing you should do is put your lender in the dark when times are tough for you. More often than not, if you explain your situation, the bank is more than willing to work with you to explore refinancing or repayment options.
- Participate. At the end of the day, the buck stops with you. Your banker can give you advice and direction, but you need to make the decisions. Be an active participant in the conversation, and make sure your financial goals are understood. Regularly review financial statements and discuss them with your lender so that you are both on the same page.
It is the time of year when we make resolutions for the next year. As you prioritize your goals and objectives, be sure that building or developing your banking relationship remains high on your list. Your bank and your banking relationships are vital elements in helping to secure your financial stability. Make plans now to stop by for a visit, and start the New Year on the right path! iBi