Specialist teams with in-depth knowledge of business sectors, engagement with clients, more effective communication — Eik’s business banking department finds a way to grow steadily in a difficult banking environment.
With a special emphasis on customer relations that includes increased client engagement, reduced response time and improved financial advice, Eik Banki has quietly built a leading position in the Faroese business market. The bank, recently restructured and restored to profitability, decided to focus even more on the business segment in 2012 — a decision that could be paying off now as a growing number of Faroese businesses are seen to to let Eik take care of their banking needs.
According to Olav Guttesen, who heads Eik Banki’s business department, the department’s philosophy places more emphasis on genuine knowledge of key business sectors with associated specialist teams for clients to consult with.
“There’s no denying that the public perception of banks has taken a hit in recent years,” Mr. Guttesen said. “We could either take this as defeat and continue to do business as usual in the hope that the damage would not be too severe; or we could choose to do something about it, which we did.”
The bank set out to become properly acquainted with clients’ business requirements by, for example, making more use of tools like customer satisfaction surveys with subsequent efforts meet requirements gathered from results.
“We aim to reach the highest customer satisfaction in the Faroese banking market,” Mr. Guttesen said. “We seek more engagement with clients and prospects by doing more visits and communicating more. Considering the importance of how clients perceive their relationship with the bank, it’s crucial for our business that they know beyond a doubt that they are seen, heard and respected.”
Rather than assigning an individual representative to each client in the traditional way, the concept is more about offering access to teams with specialist knowledge of business sectors.
“These specialist teams have very good knowledge of key industry sectors, such as fishing, aquaculture, construction or business services. The team members are keen to keep up with news and events in their specific sector and as part of that they pay visits to companies and engage with them in various ways. It’s an ongoing learning experience for everyone involved.”
Mr. Guttesen added: “Our vision is to become the clients’ first choice of banking relationship. This is what we strive towards and what defines the work we do every day.”
‘A clear vision’: A further aspect of Eik’s new approach to business banking is about making life easier for clients by reducing or eliminating bureaucratic obstacles. “Being able to make quick decisions can be a decisive factor in many business situations. We believe business banking should be a no-nonsense affair for the client, and therefore, we work hard to avoid procedural hurdles and the like, as such things can potentially slow down processes of importance for the client. We want to make banking simple — if that can possibly be achieved anywhere, it has to be here in the Faroe Islands.”
As for competition, there are, including Eik, two larger and two smaller banks in the Faroes. As far as concerns credit facilities for business, however, there are other players as well, including Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and Icelandic ones.
“We take the competition very seriously and that is one of the reasons why we regularly conduct customer satisfaction surveys, using third-party consultants to guarantee full anonymity. Real customer satisfaction is vital for our business and to retain happy customers we have to stay competitive and keep one step ahead of the game.
“We understand how important an in-depth knowledge of the client’s business is. By fully understanding the client, we can make right and swift decisions and give good advice. So we need to constantly evaluate what works and what doesn’t, and that’s exactly what we do in liaison with our clients.”
Clearly, Eik’s outreach to the business market is paying off, as evidenced in the increased number of business clients in the last two years.
“The fact that this department has been so successful can be attributed to a number of factors, not least our staff. Our teams are comprised of highly motivated, competent and service minded advisors, each of whom has long experience and relevant education. It’s all about added value to our clients and at the end of the day, we make our living through offering the best services. We have a clear vision and know where we want to go. Upsizing the business banking department is part of that.”