As other banks seek to lure customers with PC banking, Internet tools, and other IT bells and whistles, Northern Bank of Commerce remains steadfastly committed to giving small business customers personalized service. While its back offices are automated with hundreds of thousands of dollars in systems, the technology itself is designed to be completely invisible to the customer, says the Portland, OR-based bank's president and CEO John H. Holloway, Jr.; the goal is to provide "a personal, friendly voice and a banker on your doorstep."

This old-fashioned approach is not rooted in tradition; the bank is only three years old. Rather, it's based on months of research by bank executives. They found that while customers wanted fast, customized service, they didn't want to know about the technology enabling it. When the bank began purchasing systems, for example, it was ready to sign on with CFI ProServices' home banking solution, PersonalBranch, but executives nixed it when customers said they had little interest in it.

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