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In a recent episode of the Trailside Talk podcast, Ben France, Director of Business Development at Smiley Technologies, shared valuable insights into the world of banking technology and Smiley’s unique approach to serving community banks. France’s discussion highlighted Smiley’s commitment to a relationship-first approach, the challenges of the rapidly evolving fintech landscape, and their vision for the future of banking technology.

Prioritizing People, Processes, & Technology

France emphasized Smiley’s strategic IT objectives, which focus on prioritizing people, processes, and technology to empower their customers. This triad forms the backbone of Smiley’s operations and their mission to help community banks thrive in a competitive market. Smiley is a privately held organization that places a strong emphasis on understanding and addressing the unique needs of their clients. They go against the grain as the industry pushes the people element out of the equation, value the process of “getting into the weeds and helping banks with issues they may be having”, and pride themselves in handling the technological needs of bank in order to allow bankers to be bankers. 

Navigating Fintech Noise

One of the significant challenges that Smiley faces is deciphering the constant noise in the fintech industry. With new technologies and trends emerging at a rapid pace, it can be difficult for community banks to determine which innovations will truly benefit them. France explained, “there are some really good fintechs out there, it’s just that there’s a lot of noise and bankers get a lot of different requests. We just want to be a partner to help figure out what’s best with the bank.” This role as a trusted advisor is crucial for community banks that may lack the resources to navigate the complexities of the fintech world on their own.

Vision for 2024 & Beyond

Looking ahead to 2024 and beyond, Smiley has an ambitious vision for future-proofing banking technology. France outlined several innovative initiatives, including enhancing API middleware, exploring real-time payments, and investigating opportunities with artificial intelligence. These initiatives are designed to help community banks stay ahead of the curve and continue to offer seamless, efficient services to their customers.

France highlighted the potential of AI to revolutionize various aspects of banking, from automation to personalized customer service. “AI is is a game changer and we’re taking a methodical approach to it,” he noted, emphasizing the importance of staying ahead in this rapidly evolving field.

Patience, Positivity, & Celebrate the Little Wins

France also shared valuable advice on maintaining patience and positivity in the face of challenges, emphasizing the importance of celebrating small victories along the way. This perspective is crucial when navigating a long sales cycle within an industry that is constantly evolving, where staying focused and maintaining a positive outlook can make a significant difference. Also key to keeping motivated and acknowledging progress, “celebrate those little wins,” France suggested, highlighting the importance of recognizing and appreciating incremental progress as part of a larger journey towards success.

WhiteRock’s Contribution

Smiley Technologies has also benefited from the support and expertise of WhiteRock. WhiteRock has been instrumental in helping Smiley implement and leverage Salesforce for their business. France shared his appreciation for the big picture view that WhiteRock brings to the table, saying, “they’re very good at looking at us not just a couple of months from now, but years in advance of what we should be doing on the CRM standpoint. I think adding that timely support is great but also bringing that big picture holistic view to to our company.” This collaboration has enabled Smiley to stay ahead of industry trends and deliver cutting-edge solutions to their clients.

A New Reporting Tool for CDFI MDI Banks

A notable accomplishment for Smiley Technologies has been the introduction of a new product through their reporting tool for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDI) banks. This tool is specifically designed to meet the unique reporting needs of these institutions, helping them comply with regulatory requirements and better serve their communities. France discussed how this product has positively impacted the banks they serve, stating, “We came up with a solution to help automate that process for the banks. I go back to let’s let the bankers be bankers and let us provide help with technology and create more efficiencies for them.” This innovation underscores Smiley’s ability to identify and address niche market needs, further solidifying their role as a versatile and forward-thinking partner.

A Forward-Thinking Partner

Overall, the podcast provided a comprehensive overview of Smiley Technologies’ approach to empowering community banks through innovative, people-centric solutions. France’s insights underscored the importance of a balanced approach that prioritizes people, processes, and technology, while also navigating the complexities of the fintech landscape. As Smiley looks to the future, their commitment to their customers positions them as a partner for community banks seeking to thrive in an ever-changing industry.

By maintaining a clear focus on customer needs and staying ahead of technological trends, Smiley Technologies continues to play a pivotal role in the evolution of community banking. Their relationship-first approach, combined with strategic technological initiatives, ensures that they remain a trusted advisor and valuable partner to their clients. As the banking industry continues to evolve, Smiley’s dedication to innovation and customer-centric solutions will undoubtedly drive their success and the success of the community banks they serve.

WhiteRock’s Trailside Talk podcast program shines a light on organizations that are leveraging Salesforce in powerful ways to better serve their customers.