Small Businesses Want to Rely More Heavily on Mobile Banking

Small business owners generally have a lot on their plates in any given day and often the last thing they want to have to worry about is making sure all their banking needs are being met, either by visiting a local branch or sitting down at a computer to log into online accounts. For this reason, many would prefer to see more effort put into mobile banking initiatives aimed specifically at small businesses, but at this time it seems that many financial institutions aren't ready to oblige them.

These entrepreneurs now seem to have a slightly more dour view of the customer service from the banks with which they choose to do business, as on a scale of 100, satisfaction in 2013 dipped to a rating of 71, from 2012's 74, according to the latest Small Business Banking Study from the consulting firm ath Power. In all, 66 percent of owners said they would be likely to switch banks if a competitor arose that offered a better mobile banking solution than those available from the institutions with which they currently do business. Interestingly, though, another 37 percent of those polled did not mention mobile banking as something about which they were in any way concerned.

Further, it should be noted that despite the fact that the vast majority of owners these days are putting a greater emphasis on their options when it comes to not going into their local branch, it seems that when they have to, they are increasingly favoring a positive customer service experience as being vital to their ongoing dealings with that institution, the report said. Among owners who felt they had a "rapport" with the bankers with whom they dealt, 91 percent said they would become customers of that bank.

"While overall scores have decreased, the nation's largest banks achieved their highest scores since the study began," said Frank Aloi, chief executive officer of ath Power.  "This demonstrates their increased efforts to acquire the highly coveted small business customer. Mobile represents opportunities and challenges for banks to attract and retain small business clientele. Banks with mobile offerings tailored specifically for small business will achieve success by delivering differentiated features and functionality not available in standard mobile banking services. Personal connections remain critical for banks seeking to acquire new small business customers. The most successful institutions are training bankers on how to build rapport and then using applicable research and coaching to continuously improve."

Are banks doing as much as they can?
It may be all well and good for companies to occasionally reassess their banking needs, but the survey also found that banks may be able to do more to reach out to businesses to highlight what they have to offer, the report said. For instance, just 52 percent of owners who went to banks with which they do not currently do business were actually offered the opportunity to open an account during their visits. It might therefore be vital for banks and businesses alike to work together on a plan that will allow them to find mutual benefits in mobile, online, and in-person banking options, as these can save both sides some unnecessary hassle and potentially be more successful in their dealings with one another.

Owners who want their companies to be in better financial positions going forward should not only consider the ways in which their banking choices are affecting their bottom lines, but also look at their operating costs in other areas. For instance, shopping around for small business insurance that's more affordable than their current plans – including liability insurance – could help them save thousands of dollars a year.