The Point

Capture the Small Business Market: Digital Steps to Take Now

Aug  03 
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Chad Avers  Vice President, Product Management, Bank Solutions, Fiserv 

Every small business has unique needs, and determining what they need from their financial institutions can be difficult. However, identifying your small business customers and providing them with the right solutions – at the right time – can help you attract and keep business accounts as they grow from a startup garage office to a high-rise boardroom.

Small businesses are an important segment for financial institutions of all sizes, representing a significant opportunity for diversified earnings that grow as the small business grows. Commercial customers look to their financial institutions to deliver the expertise, experience and specialized solutions businesses need to succeed.

What can your financial institution do to capture a greater share of this important market?

Identify Small Business Customers

An important determination for financial institutions is whether to serve small businesses through retail or treasury lines of business. Either option can be successful with the right set of offerings, but one thing is certain: You can't build customer relationships if you haven't identified them.

Small businesses may be hiding in plain sight among your retail banking customers because many start out using the same services they use for their personal finances.

By mining your retail data, you can actively search for small business users through the types of transactions completed or types of services being used. With cash flow key to any business, the number and types of deposits can provide insight into potential small businesses. Analyzing the types of online payments requested and simply interacting face-to-face with your customers can also provide insight.

Provide the Right Products and Services

Identifying small businesses is just the tip of the iceberg. The real work is in providing the best small business banking experience. Services that help them save time and allow them to focus on growth are attractive to small business owners.

Remember: The right offerings for small businesses are just as varied as those needed to serve much larger corporate businesses.

Many sole proprietorships manage their businesses by making manual updates in readily available tools and spreadsheets. To meet the needs of businesses on the smaller end of the scale, start with the basics. Provide simple financial tools that help small businesses more easily manage cash flow and make and receive payments.

To serve more complex small businesses, the basics may not be enough. Those businesses likely need a variety of applications that streamline and automate invoicing and day-to-day management of accounts as well as consolidate information and make the most relevant financial details readily available.

Deliver a Multichannel Business Banking Experience

Small business owners use a number of personal devices to manage their lives, and they expect to use those same devices to manage their businesses. Business customers make decisions quickly and on the go via online, mobile, wearable or voice-controlled technology. A unique, immersive user experience should deliver the functionality your customers need, regardless of device or channel. As part of your small business banking strategy, it's important to have the flexibility to make services available through current and emerging technology.

As your businesses grow, their needs will evolve to include managing more complex accounting scenarios, human resources, payroll and inventory management. All of those needs provide opportunities to expand the relationship.

Gearing up to meet the needs of the huge variety of small businesses in the market is not something a financial institution can do overnight. However, placing a sustained focus on identifying and serving your commercial customers will help you attract, retain and build small business relationships.

Want to learn more about winning the small business market? Join us at Fiserv Forum, which features sessions dedicated to strategies to grow your financial institution.