Message from the President
High Tech or High Touch – Why not Both?
Has today’s world of smart phones, iPads, and personal computers eliminated the need to come into the bank? I don’t think so!
The millennials of our world, those 21-35 years old, have certainly made it unfashionable to fill out a deposit slip and have a conversation with a teller while they are depositing a check. They would prefer to take a picture of the check and send it electronically to the bank on their smart phone. When they buy a car, they would prefer to pick the vehicle on their computer screen, complete the online application, sign electronically, and have the car delivered to their home. Whatever happened to the smell of “rich Corinthian leather” and taking a test drive?
The good news is that we now offer Popmoney,® Account-to-Account Transfer, Mobile Deposit, and apps for your different electronic devices. A segment of our customers asked for these products and we have delivered. But will we ever see our customers again? I firmly believe we will, and that mobile and electronic banking are additional tools to enhance our relationship banking philosophy. One day our millennials will need help with a mobile banking product and realize we are only a phone call away, and it will not be an 800 number. One day they may actually want to sit down with their banker and ask for advice on how to structure a loan for their small business, and they won’t have to use a mobile device or computer to communicate.
Today, all forms of electronic banking present a competitive challenge to community banks. The mega-banks have a large staff of programmers and the mega-budgets to create software systems that support the many high tech programs you see advertised by a famous athlete or celebrity. Community banks must wait for third-party software vendors to develop a safe, sound and competitive product and offer it for sale. Community banks may not always be on the “leading edge” of technology, but we aren’t far behind. You can rest assured we will take the time to test and re-test every aspect of new services to make sure all of the bugs have been worked out and ensure they meet your needs.
At HomeTown Bank, we are doing our very best to keep up with the fast-moving world of mobile banking. Although we know that many of our customers would prefer to use our paper deposit slips, it is important to meet the needs of our mobile generation. The “high tech” is in the design and functioning of the products, and the all-important “high touch” is in the local support we provide with our in-house help desk. In fact, we now have three full-time employees in our electronic banking department. It wasn’t that many years ago that the department did not exist!
In my forty years as a community banker, high touch has always been the major distinction between small banks and the big boys. I don’t see that changing any time soon, but the “high touch” is now being delivered in many different ways. Our goal continues to be building relationships and meeting our customer’s needs. The “touch” of these new electronic products is now part of the overall plan.