Small community banks often do a better job than large banks at serving small business customers.
But not when it comes to online banking. In the online world, the large banks shine.
Here’s a case in point:
A few months ago I met with the President of the one of the regional National City Banks. It was during one of their Small Business Blitzes. I mentioned being disappointed in the online offerings of my own small community bank.
My bank had been slow to offer online banking. And when they finally offered it, they made it inconvenient. I had to go meet with someone at the bank to sign up, instead of being able to sign up online. It was also expensive. They wanted to charge me $35/month to use it. And to top it all off the functionality was limited. Consequently, I started looking around for a new bank.
National City Bank, I learned from the President, had made it a corporate goal to create the best banking website, especially for small businesses.
That focus has paid off. National City Bank has been named by Gomez as one of the top bank websites for small businesses, barely edged out for the number one spot by another large institution, Bank America.
Small businesses have responded well to National City’s efforts. The bank reports that the number of small businesses signed up to use online banking increased by 70% from January ’03 to January ’04.
Why are large banks better at online banking for small businesses?
Partly it has to do with having the resources to mount a world-class online banking site. Here the big banks have an obvious advantage over small banks with lesser financial resources.
And partly it has to do with attitude. My 2-branch community bank did not think online banking was important to its customers. It placed more emphasis on personal service in the branch. But that is not enough in this 24/7 world. Small business people expect to be able to conduct banking business wherever they happen to be, at whatever time of day. The large bank understood this and made online banking an important complement to their in-branch banking.