Are You Meeting Your Customers' Preferred Banking Channels?

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A Story About My Visit to Panera Bread

As I settled into a meeting at the local Panera Bread, the vibrant hub of my town, the rhythm of modern customer interactions played out around me. Opting for efficiency, I sidestepped the bustling lines by placing my order through the digital kiosk, while my perpetually tardy colleague seamlessly navigated the Panera mobile app on his phone. The fluid convergence of in-person, kiosk, and mobile ordering at the bakery stirred a thought: if a bakery chain could adapt so seamlessly to diverse customer preferences, surely community and regional banks, deeply rooted in local communities, could draw inspiration from such flexibility.

Community and Regional Banks: Anchors in Local Relationships

In the same way the Panera staff knows the regulars by name and understands their preferred orders, community, and regional banks function as anchors in their communities. These financial institutions boast long-standing relationships with clients, akin to the familiar faces at your local business who understand your tastes and preferences, creating a sense of trust that transcends mere financial transactions.

As Panera is to comfort food, community banks are to financial comfort, providing a welcoming and personalized touch that distinguishes them in an era increasingly dominated by faceless digital transactions.

Balancing Act: Remote Convenience vs. Personalized Attention

It became evident to me that banks, much like the bakery, must execute a delicate balancing act between offering remote convenience and maintaining a personalized touch. The bakery manages to cater to both those who crave the speed of digital ordering and those who prefer the familiarity of in-person transactions.

Community and regional banks face a similar challenge—meeting the seemingly divergent demands of a digital-savvy clientele while preserving the personal relationships that have been the cornerstone of their success.

Fostering Partnerships: A Strength of Community Banks

Much like the personal approach observed at various local businesses, community banks excel in establishing meaningful connections beyond financial transactions. These banks actively participate in local business collaborations and community initiatives, thereby strengthening their ties to the neighborhoods they serve.

The parallel lies in the ability to transcend the traditional role of a business entity and become an integral part of the community, cultivating partnerships that go beyond the realm of banking.

Delivering a Concierge Service: Breaking Down Internal Silos

Observing the efficient coordination of tasks in various service-oriented businesses, there is a lesson for community banks in breaking down internal silos. Offering a concierge service tailored to individual needs is the key, streamlining processes and ensuring a more seamless experience for both clients and bank officers.

Community banks can create an environment where internal collaboration mirrors the external service—efficient, seamless, and customer-centric.

Digital Platforms: The Backbone of Concierge Banking

The effectiveness of businesses in handling various service channels, —be it through kiosks or mobile apps—underscores the importance of a robust digital platform. Community banks, in their pursuit of a concierge banking experience, require sophisticated software infrastructure.

This digital backbone must unite departments, effectively manage client information, and digitize back-office processes. Just as Panera relies on technology to enhance the customer experience, community banks can leverage digital platforms to bring efficiency and personalization to the forefront of their services.

Internal Marketing through Digital Transformation

Just as businesses embrace digital innovation to underscore their dedication to customer-centric services, community banks can utilize digital workflows not just for enhanced account management but also as a powerful internal marketing initiative.

Implementing digitized workflows isn't just an operational necessity—it is a strategic move that signals to clients and stakeholders alike that the bank is committed to evolving with the times and providing cutting-edge, customer-focused solutions.

Turning First-Time Clients into Loyal Customers

Drawing inspiration from the efficiency of Panera in serving first-time customers, community banks, armed with advanced digital platforms, can offer a packaged experience that transforms initial interactions into enduring relationships. This transformative approach solidifies the bank's position as a trusted financial partner, encouraging clients not merely to engage but to become loyal customers.

Much like the seamless and memorable experiences that turn first-time visitors into regular patrons in various successful establishments, community banks can convert the curiosity of new clients into sustained loyalty, ensuring that each interaction leaves an indelible mark on the customer's financial journey.

In navigating the ever-evolving banking landscape, community and regional banks stand at the crossroads of tradition and innovation. Drawing inspiration from the adaptable and customer-centric practices of a national bakery chain, these financial institutions can carve a path that not only embraces the diverse preferences of their clientele but also positions them as indispensable pillars of their communities.


Vikar is revolutionizing the way banks do business today. We are the only company providing software in which customers, lenders, branch managers, underwriters, KYC, and operation teams collaborate from a common interface across loans, deposits, treasury, and wealth management. Vikar offers One Vikar, a modern solution with built-in rules and automation supporting today’s demands from both bank clients and employees. The One Vikar solution is built with a holistic view of a bank’s business and completely integrates into the core banking system.

For more information about this article or to learn more about Vikar products and services please contact Nancy Schneier at 

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