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Vicki Gerson
Vicki Gerson
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N.Y. Bank Achieves Site 'Stickiness'

Bank of Smithtown, headquartered in Long Island, N.Y., has taken its neighbor-to-neighbor customer relationship philosophy to the Internet with online banking and an e-commerce portal.

Bank of Smithtown, headquartered in Long Island, N.Y., has taken its neighbor-to-neighbor customer relationship philosophy to the Internet withonline banking and an e-commerce portal. The seven-branch bank aims to serve consumers online the way they want to be served.

"Our goal is to become our customers' full-service financial services provider. We expect the Internet to play a major role in the bank's success," said Ellen Drinkwine, vice president of marketing and training at $300 million Bank of Smithtown.

Two years ago, its Web site contained nothing but brochure-ware, while customers were requesting an alternate channel for receiving services. After evaluating five Internet banking vendors, Bank of Smithtown contracted with Calabasas, Calif.-based Digital Insight to help build its Internet banking presence.

"We selected Digital Insight for several reasons," said Drinkwine. "We liked the product offerings and felt they were user-friendly. We never wanted an in-house system."

The bank wanted someone else to deal with the technology hassles, she explained. "We wanted our vendor to be able to build firewalls, provide encryption, SSL and more. Everything is housed at Digital Insight, and if a customer has a problem, we just call them."

For almost a year, teams from Bank of Smithtown and Digital Insight worked together to complete the implementation and testing of both the consumer and commercial banking modules. The consumer module was tested in-house with bank employees, while the commercial module was tested with selected commercial customers. The consumer module was launched last November, attracting 200 customers in its first two months. The commercial module, launched a few weeks later, has attracted 100 businesses.

Digital Insight redesigned the Web site ( to provide additional features and a stronger brand presence. The Internet Banking component of the Digital Insight product includes account management, loan applications and funds transfer, giving customers secure, real-time account access.

The online bank and the e-commerce portal together make up Bank of Smithtown's "Online Bank," said Drinkwine. "We treat our Online Bank just like any of our bank branches. We have an online banking manager who directs its business functions on a daily basis." The bank plans to add additional features and functions to both the Internet banking and e-commerce portals, she said.

The consumer side of the e-commerce portal offers expanded services to customers and visitors such as access to stock information and the ability to make stock trades online. In addition, users can find out the weather anywhere in the world, receive mortgage and tax information, book a vacation or business trip, and shop online. The commercial side provides businesses with specific tax information and access to ancillary services necessary to manage their financial operations online.

"While online banking drives retention, the portal component attracts non-customers and customers alike," Drinkwine said. "We feel strongly that the portal provides stickiness, since a customer never has to leave our Web site."

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