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Tech match or mismatch?

Do your vendors get your bank’s culture?

Do you see what's wrong with this picture? Culture can be a subtle thing, but it is critical, says blogger Dan Fisher. Obvious and mediocre won’t be found here—but “Why didn’t I think of that?” will! Challenging the banking status quo is Dan “The Wombat” Fisher’s personal mission. Do you see what's wrong with this picture? Culture can be a subtle thing, but it is critical, says blogger Dan Fisher. Obvious and mediocre won’t be found here—but “Why didn’t I think of that?” will! Challenging the banking status quo is Dan “The Wombat” Fisher’s personal mission.

It is your bank!

It should not be too much to ask of a prospective vendor that they spend some time getting to know you a little before they tell you what to do.

Seriously, getting to know your organization is more than just spending a day with you asking questions about your operation and technology. And having lunch.

Culture now king

Culture is the most important aspect of the 21st Century financial institution. Culture defines the human interface within and also between you and your customer. It is the intangible that differentiates the community financial institution from large financial institutions and sets the tone for a long-term relationship.

A well-defined culture can create a lasting first impression for new customers by providing them with an immediate sense of being appreciated. And it can also keep your existing customers coming back year after year because they want to.

A great culture can be the bedrock of a relationship with your customer.

With great customer service and your cultural identity, customers will go to any length to stay connected with you. The internet plays an integral role. But it is your culture that is the glue!

Are you paying attention to culture?

So, where is it noted in your strategic plan that you are committed to protecting, maintaining, and evolving your culture?

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Years ago I noticed a poster in the hallway at SMU where I was teaching graduate banking school. The poster had a landscape scene with a view of a mountaintop with the inspirational phrase: “Remember, the one on top did not fall there!”

Wow, that really hit me. Success is not an accident and neither is your culture! It takes work to develop it, maintain it, and protect it!

Why culture and vendors must fit

Interestingly enough, other than the engagement and creativity of your staff, the tools of your trade are provided primarily by technology vendors.

Vendor relationships are critical to your organization, but also represent a huge risk. Why? A vendor that does not understand your culture and is focused solely on selling you product via a long-term contract does not have your best interests in mind. (What they have is their quota!)

Secondly, looking forward, technology decisions and contracts need to be flexible and allow you to adapt your organization as your customer needs evolve. A long-term contract with a vendor that does not understand this can immediately put the brakes on your growth and stymie your culture to the point that you will lose your two most valuable assets … your best customers and your top staff.

Due diligence in technology decisions goes beyond competitive pricing and products. A worthy vendor will take the time, before anything else, to study your culture and then be able to demonstrate to you an understanding of what it takes to connect, and engage with your organization and your customers.

Remember, it is your bank!

—The Wombat!

Dan Fisher

Dan Fisher is president and CEO of The Copper River Group, a consulting firm headquartered in Fargo, N. D., that focuses on technology and payment systems research and consulting for community financial institutions. For nearly 30 years, Fisher has worked in the financial industry using technology to improve the bottom line. He was CIO of Community First Bankshares (now part of Bank of the West), has served as a director of the Federal Reserve Board of Minneapolis, the chairman of the American Bankers Association Payment Systems Committee, and was a member of the Independent Community Bankers of America Payments Committee. Fisher has written numerous articles on banking technology and the payments system. He has authored or co-authored six books and recently published a book titled, "Capturing Your Customer! The New Technology of Remote Deposit." You can contact Fisher at dan@copperrivergroup.com or at 701-293-6222.
P.S. To understand Dan's nickname, check out "About the Wombat" on his website.       

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