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Knowing your customer…. What a concept!

Knowing your customer…. What a concept!

When was the last time you sent a product survey to your business and retail customers asking them what they wanted from their financial institution? Seriously, have you ever surveyed the customer for product feedback and distributed their responses to the management team BEFORE you went away to your strategic planning retreat? Okay, maybe you have, but based on what I’ve observed, you’re in the minority. For the rest, how can you create a relevant strategic plan supported by a strategic technology plan when you really do not know what YOUR customer wants?”

A customer’s business is their livelihood. Take time to understand the business and their technological challenges and brainstorm with them. The relationship is not just a loan or a credit line. Those things are easy! Rolling out a product that your customer really wants and needs is hard!

When you know the customer, you can focus on solutions that simplify and enhance their business at the same time as increasing their productivity. It is connecting with them in a creative and relevant way.

Too often the decision to introduce new products are based on impressive vendor presentations, uninformed assumptions, or anecdotal information. A good example is expecting that the business internet application you just installed is going to work for all of your business customers. That is just not so.

Here’s a personal example of that situation. I assumed that the standard iPhone GPS would work on bike trails. Guess what? The minute you enter in your destination in the GPS app and it identifies your location, it routes you to the nearest road! Disappointed and frustrated I turned off the app and put the phone away. That is how most small business owners feel about the standard business internet bank. Technologically, it just doesn’t meet their needs.

Suggestion: Ask your CIO to attend some lunches with your customers. Customers have great ideas, and CIOs have the ability to build things. Bringing the two together could produce tremendous synergy.

As a former CIO of a large financial institution, I was confident that our team could build anything, but defining the anything was our greatest challenge! Once we understood the need and the idea, we could direct the resources to achieve the objective and meet the customer’s expectations. Listening was our most effective tool!

My advice: Investing time listening and understanding the customer can be a mountaintop moment for your customer, your CIO and you. It can and will be an amazing experience. Imagine what your customer will be saying about your institution when the next product you roll out was a result of listening to them! Customer by design…Priceless!

The Wombat!           

Dan Fisher

Dan Fisher is president and CEO of The Copper River Group, a consulting firm headquartered in Fargo, N. D., that focuses on technology and payment systems research and consulting for community financial institutions. For nearly 30 years, Fisher has worked in the financial industry using technology to improve the bottom line. He was CIO of Community First Bankshares (now part of Bank of the West), has served as a director of the Federal Reserve Board of Minneapolis, the chairman of the American Bankers Association Payment Systems Committee, and was a member of the Independent Community Bankers of America Payments Committee. Fisher has written numerous articles on banking technology and the payments system. He has authored or co-authored six books and recently published a book titled, "Capturing Your Customer! The New Technology of Remote Deposit." You can contact Fisher at dan@copperrivergroup.com.
P.S. To understand Dan's nickname, check out "About the Wombat" on his website.       

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