Putting relationships first: Alerus delivers one-person, one-call approach to financial services

Relationships matter in banking. Knowing your banker, and having a banker who knows you, can make all the difference between a satisfying or disappointing experience. Good relationships don’t just make your banking experience more pleasurable; they can save you time and money, provide you with peace of mind, and make it easier to navigate through the various financial stages of your business and personal life. Perhaps no bank understands the importance of relationships better than Alerus. Founded in 1897 as First National Bank in Grand Forks, North Dakota, it has evolved over the past century from a small community bank to an allencompassing financial services provider, centering itself on the belief that client relationships are top priority. That philosophy has helped enable its expansion into new markets. Alerus currently maintains locations across the Minneapolis- St. Paul metro, as well as in Duluth, Minnesota; Grand Forks and Fargo, North Dakota; and Scottsdale, Arizona. “We all know that as some companies get bigger they lose their personal touch,” says Barbara Sheldon, a relationship manager based in Alerus’ Oakdale branch. “Customers don’t know who to talk to or don’t know where to go for their evolving financial needs. That’s what makes Alerus different. Our customer-centric approach provides customers with one point of contact, a financial advisor who will reach across the organization to bring in specialists who align with each client’s unique needs.” As a commercial lender who has worked on the east side of St. Paul since 1989, Sheldon has seen her fair share of customer service delivery models. After joining Alerus in 2009, however, she quickly responded to the One Alerus model, wherein relationship managers serve as the “go-to person” for clients. Sheldon says it is the most effective and efficient way to meet each client’s individual needs. “It’s an awesome model,” Sheldon says. “Regardless of where our clients are at in their business, from just getting started to expanding their operation to selling their company, we’re able to help them every step of the way. Relationship managers are the one point of contact for our customers — we take care of everything and bring in product experts as needed.” PERSONAL TOUCH, REGIONAL RESOURCES David “Chip” Norris, Minnesota president at Alerus, says Alerus’ size allows it to serve a specific and unique role in the Minnesota market. “There is an underserved market in between those served by national financial institutions and those served by small, independent banks — that’s Alerus’ sweet spot,” he says. Customers in this space include local and regional commercial customers who may require more financial support and/ or services than an independent banker can provide, but they still want to know their banker by name. “Our Oakdale branch is the perfect example of how Alerus can provide the best of both worlds to its customers,” he says. “Customers can walk into the Oakdale branch and everyone knows their name,” he says. “They can enjoy some of those community bank pleasures, like popcorn on a Friday afternoon or an ice cream social in the summer, but they also get to tap into all the resources Alerus can offer as a result of its size and network.” Putting relationships first: Alerus delivers one-person, one-call approach to financial services

“OUR CUSTOMER CENTRIC APPROACH PROVIDES CUSTOMERS WITH ONE POINT OF CONTACT, A FINANCIAL ADVISOR WHO WILL REACH ACROSS THE ORGANIZATION TO BRING IN SPECIALISTS WHO ALIGN WITH EACH CLIENTS UNIQUE NEEDS.”

That combination of resources and relationships is what makes Alerus truly special, according to Norris. When a potential business client requested more information about Alerus’ services, for example, the relationship manager seamlessly coordinated meetings with product experts in every product area that might prove helpful. “She brought in expertise from within Alerus for ESOP (employee stock ownership plan), credit underwriting, wealth management, 401K... she introduced them to all these things they had no idea we could help them with,” he says. “We pride ourselves on creative thinking and delivering not just out-of-the-box solutions, but also tailored solutions for our client’s needs. This client values our relationship as a trusted financial advisor, one who can help them one step at a time.” TECHNOLOGY, ALL-HOURS ACCESS The future of banking, like most industries, revolves around technology. Customers are increasingly interested in services that can be safely accessed from anywhere in the world, at their convenience, and Alerus is committed to delivering technological solutions to meet those demands. “Gone are the days of people choosing a bank based on which one has the branch office closest to their home or business,” says Sheldon. “Convenient services like mobile banking and remote deposit machines that allow you to send checks electronically to the bank make proximity to a branch location much less essential for customers. Plus, relationship managers meet customers when and where it is most convenient, and our customer care center offers assistance by phone well into the evening and on weekends, so the physical location of the branch is becoming less important than the people and services you are dealing with.” Norris agrees, but predicts that customers who prefer face-to-face interactions will continue to have an option at Alerus, no matter how advanced technological offerings become. “The human accessibility will never be cut off. If you prefer to come in and sit down to talk to someone, that will be available. But not everyone wants that, and so using technology to make the latest tools available to you for everything from retirement planning to day-today banking will be a focus for us into the future.”

 

 

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