For small business owners, choosing the right banking partner is paramount to making sure orders get filled, employees get paid and operating costs are managed in a timely manner.
A recent survey of 600 business owners with annual sales revenue figures of $20 million or less conducted by nonprofit financial consulting firm BAI investigated how businesses bank in 2019. Its research highlighted some of the challenges of business banking, as well as the types of financial services that entrepreneurs want and need.
"Businesses need their financial services provider to make their banking experience easy, so they can focus on running their business," said Karl Dahlgren, managing director of research for BAI.
Business owners want customized banking services
Finding the right business banking solution is an important step in maintaining a company's cash flow. When asked what they wanted in a financial services provider, business owners participating in the BAI survey consistently said they sought out ease of use and business-friendly policies when choosing a partner. [Related: Business Bank Account Mistakes to Avoid]
According to the survey, the top three reasons a business owner would choose a new financial services provider are "lowest fees, best rates and understanding their business needs."
In the same vein, respondents listed the top four improvements they would like to see in the current business financial services space:
- Improve the "omnichannel experience."
- Create a better in-person environment at physical branches to better realize a business's goals.
- Offer customizable solutions and provide better tools to handle a business's financial needs.
- Offer actionable, "real-time content" to help handle everyday banking.
"One of the most important priorities we uncovered is that business owners expect a smooth omnichannel experience, which they are not receiving today," Dahlgren said. "By listening to and understanding the voice of the customer, financial services leaders can seize an opportunity to stand out amongst the competition and provide unparalleled service offerings."
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Businesses want more banking services to be available online
While BAI's survey focused on what businesses want and need from a financial services provider, researchers also examined how business owners interact with their current partners.
Researchers found that 79% of business owners use the same provider for their business banking needs as they use for their personal finances.
While that figure may suggest some level of brand loyalty, researchers also found that business owners tend to have a lower net promoter score (24) than the average consumer (35). Generally, a net promoter score is used to track customer satisfaction and loyalty to a provider.
A majority of respondents said they visited a physical branch to open new deposit accounts, apply for loans, request merchant services and set up other financial services, but most reported wishing that they didn't have to. Approximately 70% of business owners said they would rather open a deposit account online, while nearly 50% said they would like the option of taking out a bank loan on the web.