Name: Santa Cruz County Bank

Assets: $1.8 billion

Location: Santa Cruz, Calif.

With a market share of 15.5%, $1.8 billion-asset Santa Cruz County Bank (SCCB) ranks fourth in California’s Santa Cruz county, trailing only megabanks. Krista Snelling, president and CEO, believes the community bank’s strong performance reflects its strategy of investing in up-to-date technology to serve and therefore strengthen customer relationships.

Snelling created SCCB’s digital transformation committee when she joined the community bank in 2021. Composed of SCCB executives, IT leaders and some client-facing team members, the committee’s mission is to identify and prioritize opportunities for technology upgrades.

The community bank started with small improvements that simply required policy changes as opposed to major technology investments. “I chipped away at things that we could do that were in our control and we could do really quickly,” Snelling recalls. “Then we started to look to the technology.”

“We look to technology in everything we do in order to drive a good client experience. On the back end, manual operations take away from the time you can spend interacting face-to-face with clients.”
—Krista Snelling, Santa Cruz County Bank

SCCB’s tech revolution

Gradually, SCCB implemented numerous initiatives aimed at efficiency, such as teller cash recyclers, teller deposit capture and cashier check automation. “We’ve made significant investments in both client-facing and back-office technologies that create a better and safer client experience,” Snelling says.

Amid all the technology upgrades, customer experience has been the key criterion. “We look to technology in everything we do in order to drive a good client experience,” Snelling explains. “On the back end, manual operations take away from the time you can spend interacting face-to‑face with clients. Taking the friction out of back-office processes allows us to focus on the client that’s standing in front of us.”

Snelling adds that team members have responded favorably as they see how technology frees them to focus on their customers.

SCCB’s clients have been glad to provide feedback on the community bank’s innovations, according to Snelling, because that meant they’d have a bank that elevates both technology and the client experience. In fact, one of SCCB’s major technology initiatives was setting up the MonJa online platform to service PPP loans.

“We got it up and running in a couple of weeks,” Snelling says. “It was easy for clients to log in and upload information and easy for our staff to converse within the system. It streamlined everything.”

SCCB also introduced Positive Pay for fraud detection. “Check and ACH fraud is everywhere right now,” Snelling says. “Positive Pay is the single best thing to stop fraud.”

She adds that Positive Pay puts control in the client’s hands in a user-friendly way. If the in-clearing check doesn’t match, the client can review it and reject it, effectively limiting exposure to check fraud.

To improve customer service, SCCB recently upgraded its call center using a reporting tool. The analysis of call center data made it possible to better utilize team members and therefore improve the customer experience.

“It tells us exactly how many calls are being made, where and if people are staying on the line or hanging up,” Snelling explains. “Through this data, we’ve been able to reroute calls to the right people who have the knowledge and capacity to answer them. Our abandoned call rates have dropped 80%.”

SCCB digital transformation committee
Pictured: SCCB’s digital transformation committee. From left: Jaime Manriquez, EVP chief information officer; Shamara van der Voort, EVP chief operations officer; Krista Snelling, president and chief executive officer; and Paul Happach, SVP director of product & digital transformation

Rising to meet customer needs

SCCB also created a treasury management department in 2021 to deliver a suite of products that would better serve both the needs and expectations of its commercial clients.

“As we’ve grown, our clients have more sophisticated needs,” Snelling explains. “The treasury management department designs custom solutions for our business clients. We’re to the point that we can compete with the major banks on every bell and whistle.”

The treasury management team shaped the technology upgrade of SCCB’s online banking capabilities, enabling businesses to be their own user admins on their accounts.

“That’s a big deal,” Snelling says. “If I’m the CFO of a business, I can go in myself and control the capabilities of my people, assign accounts, research transactions and reconcile my bank accounts.”

Quick Stat


The drop in abandoned call rates after SCCB made improvements to its call center processes.

Source: Santa Cruz County Bank

Exploring a new niche

Through market outreach, SCCB learned of the need for asset-based lending. That niche is helpful for startup companies that may not have an established track record of profitability but have inventory or other assets and accounts payable.

SCCB had not previously offered this service, but when Snelling learned of the availability of an experienced asset-based lending team at another bank, she acted quickly to bring them on board.

“This nimbleness has served us well, as this division is gaining momentum every day,” she says. “Our business development team have embraced this product offering and love being able to keep the business in house. We help startups with slightly more expensive, more risky lending, and they grow out of this stage and go into cash flow loans.”

SCCB plans to continue with its strategy of using technology to drive efficiencies and a positive customer experience. “This is where the banking universe is going,” Snelling says. “Even in this digital universe, there’s a drive for human interaction that I do not see going away.”