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Small Business Mobile Relationship Managers: Just an App Away

December 21, 2021

Relationship managers are a key strategy for financial institutions when building relationships with small businesses. When this strategy is extended to digital channels, such as mobile apps, there is the addition of ease and convenience. Providing access to mobile relationship managers can enhance small business customer relationships. Both usage of and satisfaction with mobile relationship managers are strong. These are among the findings from Mobilizing Banking Services for Small Businesses, a recent report by Phoenix MI. The study included a nationwide survey of 600 owners and executives of small businesses with annual sales of $50K to $5M.

Overall, seven in ten (72%) small businesses are mobile banking users, averaging 7.8 uses per month. A majority (54%) of small businesses who use mobile banking say they have a mobile relationship manager. Incidence of mobile relationship manager usage is particularly strong among small businesses with annual sales of $500K to $5M, with close to seven in ten mobile banking users in these upper sales groups indicating they have a mobile relationship manager. Two-thirds (67%) of small businesses who use mobile relationship managers report that they were assigned a relationship manager, and three in ten (29%) indicate they were able to select one.

Small businesses use mobile relationship managers to perform a wide variety of activities—from routine banking to customer service and sales. At the top of the list, in terms of incidence of specific activities, is checking balances and reviewing account activity. This is followed by addressing customer service issues and problem resolution. Close to half of mobile relationship manager users report performing two sales-related activities—asking for information on new products and applying for accounts/services online.

Potential for mobile relationship managers among nonusers is significant, particularly among larger small businesses. A majority (55%) of nonusers indicate they would be very/somewhat likely to adopt mobile relationship managers. The likelihood of adopting is stronger among larger small businesses, increasing from two-fifths (44%) of lower sales volume firms to seven in ten (70%) small businesses with higher annual sales volumes

Additionally, there is widespread satisfaction with mobile relationship managers. Almost all (98%) users indicate they are very/somewhat satisfied with their mobile relationship manager, and seven in ten (70%) are “very satisfied.” The positive influence of mobile relationship managers may also be evident when looking at net promoter scores (NPS) for primary financial institutions. Overall, small businesses report NPS of 46 for their primary financial institution. Small businesses using mobile relationship managers report NPS of 59.

Bill McCracken, president of Phoenix Synergistics, stated, “Relationship managers provide small businesses with personal contact with their financial services provider. Mobile relationship managers go one step further by increasing convenience and ease of access. Small businesses perform a wide variety of activities—including transactions and sales—with their mobile relationship managers. The pandemic likely accelerated the adoption of mobile relationship managers. The potential to begin using mobile relationship managers is strong among nonusers, particularly among the larger small businesses in the market. Moving forward, FIs should position mobile relationship managers as trusted advisors and should use the service to develop stronger partnerships with their small business clients.”

These are among the findings from a recent Phoenix Synergistics report, Mobilizing Banking Services for Small Businesses, which features responses from 600 online interviews with owners and executives of small businesses with annual sales of $50K to $5M.

Phoenix Synergistics, a unit of Phoenix Marketing International, is the leading provider of multi-sponsor marketing research for the financial services industry. For more information, contact Bill McCracken, president, Phoenix Synergistics, email

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