By Nancy Brumback, Contributing Writer
Westborough—Avidia Bank prides itself on being a community bank—at the cutting edge of customer service and communication.
Despite its size, nine branches in the Metrowest area, Avidia was, for example, the first bank on the East Coast to offer Cardless Cash, permitting customers to access its ATMs with their smartphones.
And Avidia is constantly available to its customers via social media platforms, email and a 24/7 phone line.
“The perception of community banks is they are not able to introduce new things like the big banks do. Starting with a greater mobile banking platform, we decided to do things that offer the leading edge of technology on both the consumer and business sides,” said Michael Allard, senior vice president, marketing. While Avidia is headquartered in Hudson, the marketing team works out of the Westborough office.
“Consumers have a lot of banking choices. Why us?” added CarrieAnne Cormier, assistant vice president and retail officer. She and her staff are combining banking and social media, communicating with Avidia’s customers as the bank staff visits local businesses, eats at local restaurants and volunteers around the region.
“We feature local businesses on social media even when they are not our customers. We look for new ways to promote businesses and continue to be a good corporate neighbor,” Allard said.
“You’ll see us at community events in our bright orange ‘Avidia Smarties’ tee-shirts. We promoted a Hudson schools’ physics lab event by posting pictures and sharing news through all our social media, for example,” said Katelin Cwieka, marketing specialist.
The bank also posts videos of employees doing what they do. “We want people to relate to us, to see we are not suits behind a mahogany desk. So we show our employees in different locations and areas of the bank,” Cwieka said.
Cardless Cash access launched last August. It is a feature within the Avidia Mobile app that lets a customer withdraw cash from an Avidia ATM by holding the phone to the screen. At the end of each transaction, a receipt is sent automatically to the phone.
“It changes the perception of a community bank, a paradigm shift away from the belief that only big banks have new technology,” Allard said.
In addition to being convenient and fitting well with various lifestyles—a customer could stop and get cash while out for a run, for example, Cardless Cash is more secure, eliminating the possibility of “skimming,” using all the same authentication and security available within the mobile wallet technology, Cormier noted.
Avidia used social media to introduce the product, posting a video of staff members trying out the system and showing how it worked on such platforms as Twitter and Periscope.
“We engaged customers in real time and got real time feedback,” Cormier said. “Consumers are savvy and this is technology they want.” Cardless Cash has been adopted not just by the bank’s millennial customers, but by customers from 17 to 79. Three months after Cardless Cash was introduced, mobile banking enrollments had increased 13 percent.
Avidia also offers its customers the ability to use the Apple Pay app to pay for purchases at retailers which accept Apple Pay.
“We think the smartphone is a convenient, relevant tool, and with Avidia Mobile, it becomes the Swiss Army knife of banking. People might go out without their wallet, but they don’t forget their smartphone,” Allard said.
In addition, Avidia Bank offers Avidia Pay, which is available for commercial customers, providing state-of-the-art electronic payment capability for businesses. “However your customers want to pay, we are the bank that offers the technology necessary,” Allard said. “Our initiatives let us take on larger customers and provide more services, so we can adapt to the needs of any growing business.”
As it adds these advanced products and communication capability, Avidia continues to focus on the customer service reasons people opt for a community bank.
“Our high levels of customer service haven’t changed,” Allard said. “We still have all the great things associated with a well-established community bank.”
The social media options, he added, enable customers to get in touch with their bank and with a specific person whenever they need to, “without having to find a business card.”
Avidia Bank was formed in 2007 with the merger of Hudson Savings Bank and Westborough Bank, both founded in 1869. Avidia has nine branches, in Hudson, Westborough, Clinton, Marlborough, Northborough, Shrewsbury and Leominster, and will open a branch in Framingham in April 2017.
Branch locations and additional information on products is available on the website, www.avidiabank.com, as well as a variety of social media sites. The website was recently redesigned with an eye toward responsive use on mobile devices, and with video tutorials on some of Avidia’s products and services.