What Matters MOST to Small Businesses?

I have the distinct honor of presenting the J.D. Power trophy to M&I Bank for the closing session at the Small Business Banking Conference next week in Scottsdale, AZ. I have been asked by a number of bankers and media alike what Small Businesses found most satisfying this year in their banking relationships with M&I Bank. From our research, here is a brief summary of what stood out most in contributing to their achievement.

Account Management: 77% of M&I Bank small business customers reported they had someone assigned to their relationship. Our research shows that small companies, particularly those under $1 million in annual sales, appreciate having a name of someone who is knowledgeable and caring. Ironically, frontline Customer Service Representatives score just as well as Business Bankers in satisfaction for these smaller firms. As needs grow more complex, of course, the role of a Business Banker or Branch Manager becomes the more likely contact.

Problem Incidence: Problems are a fact of life and no one knows that more than small business owners. However, avoiding problems is key to satisfying customers and M&I Bank had the lowest reported problem incidence rate for the 24 banks in the study, 25% versus the industry average of 37%. In many cases, banks with fewer problems demonstrate the ability to answer questions and resolve issues at the point of contact, before a concern becomes a problem in the customer’s mind.

In-person Performance: M&I Bank had strong performance this year in both the efficiency associated with servicing branch customers, as well as the knowledge demonstrated by frontline personnel. While Online continues to grow in importance as a primary channel for information and routine transactions, Small Businesses are still dependent on branches for many day-to-day activities. Focusing on branch fundamentals such as peak time staffing, courtesy, product knowledge and proactive communication remains an important priority in achieving customer satisfaction for these customers.

These are just a few of the performance elements from this year’s research that made a difference to the customers of top performing banks and demonstrate just how important personal service is to the Small Business owner.

Congratulations again to M&I Bank on this year’s achievement in J.D. Power and Associates 2011 Small Business Banking Study!


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