SMEs are counting on banks to get through COVID-19

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) around the world are feeling the brunt of COVID-19’s economic quake. Various estimates from market watchers suggest that many small businesses are now operating with low-to-no liquidity and some may even close permanently by the end of 2020.

Most are turning to their commercial banking relationship managers (RMs) like never before for personalized guidance to stay afloat and emerge stronger after the health crisis ends. Our research shows that, pre-COVID-19, more than 60 percent of SMEs would not give up their RM for a digital-only offering—even if offered at a cheaper price.

Is the typical RM approach fit for purpose?

The dilemma SMEs face is compelling leading banks to be more strategic in the way that they relate to and support these customers—especially now that business interactions have gone all-digital in response to the pandemic.

RMs typically spend a lot of time using legacy tools and relationship management methods to conduct manual and administrative tasks. They now need to adopt a digital-first approach to adding customer value. This means giving them innovative insight, tools and training—digital servicing, intelligent automation and more—to smartly focus their attention on customer needs and solutions. We call this the empowered RM: a strategic and insightful advisor who can both enrich the customer experience and enhance the bank’s brand in more meaningful ways… whenever, however and wherever.

Three actions to develop the empowered RM

Leading commercial banks will develop and refine three key actions that help to revolutionize the antiquated RM role and build the banking relationships that business customers want and need now.

1. Create adaptive capacity

Streamline, digitize and automate core workflows and supporting processes to scale and redeploy RM capacity to higher-value customer engagements.


2. Equip with insights

Give RMs data-driven insights to more effectively prioritize leads, identify cross- and up-sell prospects and personalize interactions with customers.

3. Transform the service model

Use advanced segmentation to refine the RM coverage model, account loading & interaction strategy to better craft solutions that meet customer needs.

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Empower RMs to drive value, distinction and growth

Banks have an opportunity to use these three actions to build upon their digitalization progress and empower RMs to perform as strategic advisors to their customers. Doing so can give RMs up to 20 percent more time to spend on high-value activities and up to 40 percent faster time to competency, among other benefits.

We understand the path to the empowered RM and have the people and capabilities to help your bank get there. Read our report or contact our team to learn more.

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