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For many forward-looking marketers, effective customer engagement means creating a customer-centric culture that puts the brand at the heart of local communities. Too often today, consumers are beginning to feel disassociated and disconnected from the brands they engage with. Being a part of a community, on the other hand, provides cohesiveness and creates a shared sense of understanding that can engender long-term trust and loyalty.
In this way, local communities are just as important for the success of a local neighborhood and its residents, as they are for the relationships built between a company and its customers. People value these authentic connections, and that’s why Lincoln Savings Bank (LSB) has remained a dedicated member of the communities it’s served for generations. Since being founded in 1902, LSB has considered its community involvement to be one of its core values. And this “Passionate Community Stewardship” represents one of the key aspects of the brand’s success and longevity.
“We’ve been on a growth trajectory for quite awhile now,” Mike McCrary, Lincoln Savings Bank EVP Ecommerce and Emerging Technology, told Loyalty360. “We currently have 17 locations across Iowa, with 860 million in assets. The term community bank for us, and for all community banks, means that we are part of the community. We invest in the community. We volunteer in the community. We lend within the community. And it is really about being part of the fabric of the community.”
This close connection to community extends to LSB’s mission to enthusiastically leverage its expertise to help its customers grow and thrive. Employees often engage in a wide range of volunteer efforts and are even partially critiqued on the time and talent they bring to the assistance and wellbeing of the bank’s customers. It’s a customer experience that gets to the heart of the authentic relationships that many brands are trying to build with their customers today, and it’s one that strategically differentiates LSB from its competition.
LSB’s goal is not simply to mediate transactions in a cold and impersonal manor. It seeks to understand where people are striving to get financially. And regardless of wherever they are along their own particular individual journey, LSB can leverage the depths of banking, investing, and insurance expertise to get each customer to where he or she wants to go. Many financial institutions may boast a similar customer experience, but for LSB it goes a step further.
“Our CEO has made it a priority, we call it ‘LSB Plus,’ and that speaks to us wanting to understand each customer, what their goals are, how they plan on getting there, and really form those relationships,” McCrary said. “Everybody offers the same stuff, but the ‘Plus’ part wraps it all up and communicates it back to customers in a meaningful way. We’ll take them as far down the road or as short as they want to go. We’ll be there for them, and help them identify the opportunities and pitfalls that they might not think about. It’s the kind of thing that they could only get by having that close advisement.”
Since it has been such a staple of the community for generations, LSB does have the advantage of retaining much of the customer loyalty from the parents, and even the grandparents, of many customers. But the bank is also continually expanding and opening new branches in various urban areas. There are also new generations of customers emerging all the time, those that are more attracted by the allure of a more modernized and digital approach to customer engagement.
LSB understands this changing customer dynamic, and its emphasis on local and hometown community connections also extends well into the digital space.
“In a lot of towns, the bank location is really a center piece location,” McCrary said. “It is a touch point, and where people are increasingly moving and doing their business online – we need to make sure that we are leveraging that channel to communicate the same kinds of things.”
On LSB’s website, for example, the bank often prominently features rotating banners that display a number of local organizations such as local developers, the local symphony that LSB sponsors, various non-profit development corporations and more. The idea is to use that digital space to not only highlight things going on in the community, but to also communicate a customer experience that encapsulates the bank’s identity and branded message.
This, of course, also extends to the social media sphere as well, and LSB’s presence on Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram remains strong. But, much like its approach to build community connections, LSB’s digital customer engagement again takes it a step further.
LSB is always looking for new technologies to help it remain competitive, and many of its tactics are considerably innovative.
“We are very keen on the fact that a lot of our traffic and transactions are conducted online, and so we have a good partnership with Q2ebanking, our online e-banking provider,” McCrary continued. “Through them, we are able to offer our customers what’s referred to as ‘UUX,’ which is a unified user experience. That is a big part of where we are going with our customer experience.”
LSA is looking to become a pioneering player within this space. And while it might not have the massive resources that some of the big banks have to buy up and develop much of this advanced technology, it still has the foresight and the knowledge to maintain a keen awareness of the emerging tech that is available. Plus, it also has the advantage of remaining flexible and nimble, which makes it an exciting prospect for many new financial-based start-up companies seeking an established partner in the industry.
Some of these start-ups are becoming disrupters across many industries. Just think about Uber or Airbnb, which have quickly commanded a substantial portion of the market share from many established brands. LSB recognizes the significance of these rising upstarts and works strategically to build relationships with them.
Through a Des Moines company called Social Money, LSB was recently able to partner with Qapital, which supports an online mobile savings application. Qapital views the idea of banking and saving from a slightly different perspective. For Qapital, saving money can be a passive activity. By leveraging automated micro savings, it encourages users to see saving as a simple and fun activity.
It just the kind of app a mobile savvy and financially conscious person would love to use, and now LSB has become the bank of record for Qapital.
“So rather than looking at the landscape out there and seeing a company like Qapital gaining speed and hoping our customers don’t find out about it, I would rather partner with entities like that and be a part of the values chain,” McCrary explained.
This is a testament to LSA’s mission to not only connect with customers, but it also speaks to its commitment to find new and innovative ways to do so. From brands across almost every industry, the customer engagement landscape is continually (and rapidly) evolving. The finically industry is certainly no different, and this challenge seems to be one that LSB is perfectly poised to meet.
“When we start thinking about online and mobile and those types of things, it can feel like we a distancing ourselves from the community, but, in fact, that is our most rapidly growing access channel,” said McCrary. “So that needs to be something that we look at. Not in how that is distancing ourselves but how we can reach through that channel and maintain that community feel, and that connectivity within the community.”