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Connecting for Knowledge

By: Kari English

There are three basic market approaches, noted Sam Kilmer, vice president, market development, at Harland Financial Solutions’ 2012 Connections conference in San Diego. One approach is operations excellence, the second is product leadership and the third is customer intimacy, Kilmer said. When asked which approach their banks follow, almost all the session attendees said customer intimacy.

Kilmer turned to a four-person panel of community financial institution leaders in the session and asked the same question, to which the panelists all agreed that customer intimacy is their market approach as well. That seemed obvious. After all, the majority of clients in the room were smaller banks and credit unions, which pride themselves on outstanding customer service.

The next question Kilmer asked the audience was whether it hires experienced bank employees. Again, the majority of attendees said yes. Surprisingly, three out of the four panelists said they rarely or never hire experienced bankers. Why? “It’s easier to teach them bank systems than teach them how to care about customers,” said Keith Malbrue, Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union.

Besides providing insight into building stronger connections with customers, Harland also offered opportunities to connect through a trade show with more than 50 of its partners, including Vantiv, a recently announced partnership. Vantiv provides credit card, ATM and debit processing, merchant services, rewards and fraud prevention. With this partnership, Harland will add servicing capabilities including prepaid and gift cards, card personalization, debit PIN processing through the Vantiv-owned Jeanie network and cardholder eServices.

Also announced at the conference was a strategic alliance with Transactis Inc. to expand its bill payment capabilities. Harland’s eBill Presentment & Payment is designed for business-to-consumer and business-to-business applications with features for B2B such as daily accounts receivables reconciliation and invoice dispute management. For B2C applications, features include push-billing, biller branding and flexible recurring payment options.

In total, more than 1,200 people attended this year’s conference to learn and connect with others. Next year, Harland’s Connections conference will be in Nashville Aug. 12–15.

Kari English is senior editor of BankNews.

Copyright (c) November 2012 by BankNews Media