When you purchase a new banking system, you get more than a piece of software. Or at least you should. From training to ongoing support, there’s a tremendous difference between a vendor who sells you a system and a true partner who will work with you to enhance your banking operations. But how do you know which is which? Here are some questions to help you determine if a vendor is just that, a vendor, or if they might represent something more meaningful for your bank.
Do they have real banking expertise?
A software vendor that doesn’t have real-world banking experience will never have the institutional knowledge necessary to act as your true partner. The company may have been founded by a banker, and their salespeople may have some cursory knowledge of how their solution works in a banking environment. But for a real partner, you need to find a vendor that can offer expert insights based on experience. Ask any salespeople or other contacts about their banking background and what they can do to help improve your bank.
Do they want to understand your issues?
A vendor won’t be able to help solve your problems if they aren’t interested in learning what they are. You should be able to get a sense of this early on in the process, especially if you go through a software demonstration. Does the salesperson spend more time talking about features and system capabilities, or do they ask you about your needs first and foremost? A vendor looking to make a sale will talk about their program, while a true partner will take the time to find out what your challenges are and what you really want to know. Look for a vendor who puts your needs above their own and you’ll likely find one who is truly invested in your success.
How quickly do they respond?
If you have a question or need to troubleshoot a problem with your banking system, vendors will show you how much they care about you by the speed of their turnaround time. Any delays could prove costly, and a good partner is one who acts on that immediate need and moves quickly because they care about your business. It can take some companies weeks to fully resolve customer issues, while others respond and are actively working to solve the problem in only a few hours. Go with the software provider who is there for you when you need them most.
Do they go above and beyond?
Sometimes the only way to solve an issue is to go beyond the immediate problem to the underlying causes. For example, you might think you have a process problem when onboarding your treasury management services customers, but it could actually be an issue that requires system automation to fully resolve. A vendor that can identify those issues and give you insights on how to fix them, not merely put a Band-Aid on the problem with a quick workaround, is one worth keeping around. This may mean that the solution your vendor proposes isn’t the easiest or the cheapest one, but this is a good thing. When a vendor is willing to tell you something you may not want to hear, you can be sure they truly want what’s best for your organization.
Do they continue to be there for you?
Once they’ve made the sale, some banking software companies consider the engagement over. Sure, their helpline will be open if you have a problem. But their contact person will seemingly disappear, moving on to new targets as you struggle with implementation and the best way to utilize the software. Instead, find a vendor who will stick with you long after agreements have been signed. They should not only provide training to help facilitate a smooth transition to the new system, but they should also be there for you down the road. When a new software update becomes available, or they release a new version of the system, they should proactively reach out and educate you on the new features, not try to sell you the latest development. Although you won’t know how those interactions will go until after you’ve made your purchase, it pays to evaluate the service you’re getting from your vendors at every stage of your engagement.
Finding a software vendor that you trust enough to consider a partner isn’t always easy. But by looking for some of the characteristics discussed above, you can identify the vendors most likely to be worthy of your trust. From there, you can start building a relationship that will pay dividends now and into the future.