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Niche focus Featured

9:54am EDT January 31, 2003
As banks scramble to differentiate themselves in what has become a commoditized market, Unizan Bank has aimed its efforts at the business community.

Unizan has created the Business Solution Center, an initiative aimed at providing better service to its business clients.

"We've basically created a call center for our business clients," says Derek Williams, senior vice president and chief deposit officer for Unizan. "Business clients are a special niche business for us. We feel that just like our retail clients have a service center, we needed to establish a Business Solution Center for our business clients."

The center established one contact point for business clients, regardless of what the need is. The center can handle questions pertaining to products, service charges, loans or something regarding a specific account.

"Rather than having to keep a list of several numbers to call to get answers, there is now one central point where they can do that," says Williams.

Businesses might be dealing with a variety of banking products, such as checking accounts, savings accounts, loans, merchant services such as Visa or MasterCard, a business credit card that's used for entertaining and travel, and Internet banking.

"When you think of the multitude of those products and the processing points those areas touch, we thought it was critical to make available to our business clients the capability of contacting one department and having one person find the solutions to their problems," says Williams. "It's like having an advocate at the bank. You don't get transferred around when you're looking for answers."

The Solution Center lines are answered by people, not an automated system.

"You're talking to the same people every time," says Williams. "This is real relationship building."

Unizan doesn't charge businesses fees for using the center.

"It's no different than our client service center that allows our personal clients to call in and access their accounts," says Williams. "The key with business clients, a lot of times those issues take longer to explain and there is a specialization needed to know everything about business services." How to reach: Unizan Bank, www.unizanbank.com or (800) 346-2011

Paperwork shift

Unizan Bank started its Business Solution Center last June to be more responsive to its business customers by providing one number to call for answers to any business banking question.

The center also allows Unizan employees to spend more time with customers.

"We feel strongly that in order for our business bankers to provide a high level of service to our clients that it's important for them not to be preparing paperwork," says Derek Williams, senior vice president and chief deposit officer of Unizan Bank. "Now if they sell a client on a new account or merchant service, they can send the form to the solutions center, and all the work is done there. It's then sent back to the business banker to complete.

"This allows our business bankers to become more effective by not spending their time filling out paperwork."

The center also gives business bankers another service tool, because if clients need a question answered immediately, they don't have to depend on their business banker being in his or her office -- they can call the center and get their question answered with one call.