“Walking the Community Bank Walk” Generates Success at BankNewport

BankNewportBy Colleen Medeiros, Senior Vice President, Chief Information Officer, BankNewport

The economy has not stopped BankNewport from growing, serving our community, or lending. In fact, we increased our loan activity at every stage of the economic downturn and have never compromised our high standards. We have generated steady profitability thanks to rising net interest margins and a constant eye on cost control.

Our secret is not a secret at all. BankNewport walks the community bank walk. We focus on customer success and insist on understanding enough about our customers to know when we have a quality prospect. Isn’t that what community banking is all about?

Behind our commitment to customers and customer knowledge is an equally firm commitment to our employee culture. It’s no accident that the Providence Business News recognized BankNewport as one of the best places to work in Rhode Island for four consecutive years.

We invest in our employees’ knowledge, tools and culture at all levels. We established a vision that insists that we treat every customer as our only customer. We branded our vision Customer First. Supporting our vision are employee core values, training, standards for email and telephone etiquette, celebrations and “moments of truth” where we test our employees to ensure they are walking the walk. The program has definitely improved the returns on our marketing dollars.

This year’s major initiative is our Top Customer program, featuring innovative, targeted events for our best customers. We hosted special events at prestigious locations around Newport and hired speakers such as the Today Show’s Jean Chatzky to conduct custom webinars for us. As you can imagine, our top customers felt very special and they gladly spread the good word about BankNewport throughout the community. They have also deepened their relationships with the bank.

Technology is always a key factor in our bank’s delivery of products and services. Our core processing provider, COCC, recently upgraded our infrastructure to the latest .Net integrated technology which enables us to accelerate bank processes and implement the new online and mobile capabilities that our customers demand.

We will continue to streamline our operations with paperless processes and Microsoft Sharepoint technologies that increase collaboration. Eliminating paper will not only reduce ink, forms and storage – it will also eliminate operational lag time in many areas, particularly in new accounts where customer signature cards can be unavailable for as long as a day. With eSignature, this information will be available bank-wide as soon as the forms are signed.

We are making these investments now because we can’t rely solely on net interest margins. We need to find new efficiencies in everything we do, which is why our Customer First vision is so important. It keeps us all focused on customer knowledge, collaboration, and efficiency, which all add up to excellent customer service, the secret of any community bank’s success.