Is your bank paying attention? This one is.

Long-time readers of my blog and Beacon column know that I’ve given my fair share of grief to a few banks in my area, and I’ve handed out a kudo or 2 for the one that stands out.

Last week during a mastermind meeting, a local financial institution exec asked me why I have my business account at Wells Fargo. He knew the answer for most people who have personal accounts there is “they’re all over Montana”.

For me, the answer is different. They aren’t in Columbia Falls, so why am I willing to annoy myself by driving 20 minutes each way to Kalispell on those occasions when I have a check to deposit?

Simple: Wells Fargo is one of two banks that fully supports QuickBooks’ online banking integration. Not partially supports, not “I have to import a text file”, but FULLY supports. 1 click and type in my pin and all my transactions are matched up with my QuickBooks and those that don’t match are in front of me to settle, quickly and easily.

Yes, I drive 40 miles round trip past 2 banks (used to be 3) and 2 credit unions, all the way into Kalispell because of that one issue.

It’s about time. I’m not willing to waste my time on banks that don’t recognize that time is money. Full support for QuickBooks, Microsoft Money and Quicken is expensive if you are in the banking business, but they are MORE expensive if you don’t offer them because you’ll likely never know about the customers you never had the opportunity to serve because you don’t offer that level of service.

I was glad to hear this bank guy asking the question, because too few businesses ask that question of their customers (and I’m not a customer of this guy’s bank as yet).

Given all the choices you have, why do you do business with me instead of anyone else?  Try asking it. You might learn something from the answers.

Things like this tend to come in groups, and sure enough, today was no exception. A reader of my Beacon column who works at a local bank emailed me about my column (also posted here) that mentioned a friend who has had an account with a new-to-Kalispell bank for 40 years that never contacted him when they moved to town. He explicitly asked for my friend’s business and for mine.

That column aired 2 weeks ago. No one else bothered to ask. The bank who is new to town will know I am talking about them if they read the column. Yet they didn’t ask.

The guy who emailed me took the time to ask, so I will indeed pass his name on to my friend. More importantly, he also asked for my business, knowing full well that if his bank doesn’t pass muster, he’s likely going to read about it in the Beacon and in this blog.

What does that tell you? Can you say the same about your business?

Here’s his note to me:

Mr. Riffey:

I just read your excellent article in the September 12 edition of the Flathead Beacon about your friend who had not heard from his bank. I passed it out to our entire staff as a reminder that we all can do a better job of providing customer service that we can be proud of.

If your friend has not yet been contacted by his bank from Minneapolis, we would be happy to give him a call and sit down for a cup of coffee to see if there is any way we can be of service. I would also like to extend the same invitation to you considering that you do not currently have an account with First Interstate Bank and indicated that you have not been recently contacted by your bank either.

Thanks again for the great article.

Scott Mizner
Vice President
Commercial Loan Manager
First Interstate Bank
2 Main Street
P.O. Box 7130
Kalispell, MT 59904-0130
(406) 756-5295
(406) 756-5260 FAX

Be more like Scott and the other bank exec. Ask questions. Act on the answers. Pay attention.