By Kay Metcalfe
The DeWitt headquarters of Community Bank, N.A.
DeWitt-based Community Bank, N.A. recently received nationwide recognition for its services.
In June, the bank was named second-best for customer satisfaction among all larger banks by J.D. Power and Assoc., beating over 9,000 competitors, according to Mark Tryniski, Community Bank president and CEO. Tryniski started with the bank in 2003 as chief financial officer. He became chief operating officer in 2004 and was appointed to his present position in August 2006.
“We’re just a smaller bank from upstate New York that beat almost all the big boys at their own game,” said Tryniski. “The big banks are only just now realizing that customer service makes all the difference.”
The J.D. Power and Assoc. 2007 Retail Banking Satisfaction Study annually examines customer satisfaction in retail banking by measuring the success of six factors: transactions, account initiation/product offerings, account statements, convenience, fees and problem resolution.
Community Bank’s index rating of 808 was 60 points above the regional average and 45 points above the national average for customer satisfaction, according to a bank statement.
Acknowledgement from J.D. Power has given the bank’s employees true validation that their business model works. “This recognition has really empowered our branch managers and made a big difference,” he said.
“As our name suggests, we do our best to serve our market as a community-oriented bank,” said Tryniski. “We do business in a small non-metropolitan area.”
In approximately 70 percent of the towns Community Bank does business in, it is either first or second in the deposit market share, said Tryniski.
The bank prides itself on the high skill-level of its workers and their ability to serve customers to the highest degree. All branch managers at each Community Bank facility have lending authority, as well as the ability to make rate adjustments, waive fees and make other critical decisions while serving customers.
“We don’t have a 1-800 call center, we have the skills to take care of problems in the branch,” said Tryniski. “The bank maintains responsibility not just for transaction delivery, but for detailed customer service needs.”
The mission of Community Bank and its Pennsylvania division, First Liberty Bank and Trust, is to be valued by customers, employees, shareholders and regulators as a well-managed, profitable independent bank that is committed to providing friendly and personalized financial services and products to the communities they serve.
Community Bank and First Liberty Bank and Trust are run by the holding company, Community Bank Systems. Community Bank operates 106 customer service facilities in 22 New York counties.
Currently, there are 30 branches in New York and Pennsylvania. The bank does have plans to further grow and diversify, said Tryniski. “We have been looking at our options in Vermont and Ohio. There’s no presence yet, but we are certainly strongly considering the expansion.”
Community Bank has done four acquisitions in the last year, three of which were bank acquisitions and the fourth was the gaining of a benefits administration and consulting firm. “There has been a lot going on in terms of business development,” said Tryniski. Tryniski and his team have been working hard on the marketing and advertising of the bank and the programs they offer. The redesigning of checking account products was a huge success, including efforts to strengthen the generation of core deposits, said Tryniski. The efforts resulted in a 20 percent increase in the core checking account base, more commonly known as personal checking accounts.
“We wanted to make sure that all of our products were appropriate for our customers, so we redesigned everything with the customer’s viewpoint in mind,” he said.
One of the most recent marketing efforts, Bank Happy, has been a major success, according to Tryniski. “It has been so rewarding to see the success of our efforts and initiatives,” he noted.
The campaign is the first-ever fully integrated, system-wide effort by Community Bank Systems that showcases the bank’s ability to deliver uncomplicated banking experiences to its customers. The promotion gently demonstrates an honest commitment to personalized financial service.
“The ad firm we hired went and talked to many of our customers and employees and then created a profile for the bank that could be synthesized into one phrase that shows who we are and how we interact with our customers,” explained Tryniski.
The Bank Happy campaign has been well received by customers because of the light-hearted, upbeat, high-energy feel to it. The slogan at the heart of the campaign reads, “When we say bank happy, we mean it.”
The first phase of the campaign was launched in newspapers throughout New York and Pennsylvania, followed by a branding ad that featured new products and services for residential and small-business customers. The ads are being featured in more than 50 publications, said Tryniski.
The bank’s main objective for the future is its continued growth, noted Tryniski. The marketing campaigns will continue, and so will the outstanding service to customers and the communities in which they live, he said.
“We will continue to execute well upon our strategy and expect to continue to provide earnings growth and shareholder returns,” he said. “I am excited for the future and think that our solid management team will lead us to a positive future.”
Kay Metcalfe is a staff writer for Banker & Tradesman, a Boston-based newspaper serving the financial industry in New England for 135 years.
Copyright 2007 The Warren Group