Yesterday I paid a visit to my bank. No pun intended. And several interesting things happened while I was there. I don’t physically go to my banks anymore (I use three). I do most things online or at the drive up. But this time I stopped by to inquire about a TV ad I saw about zapping checks and making deposits with my new smart phone.

Are Banks Moving Away From Customers?

Banks have made a lot of changes in recent years. ATM machines, direct deposit, online banking and now smart phone banking all reduce the need to physically go to the bank.

Each of these operations puts a buffer between the customer and the human teller. I guess there are two schools of thought on this issue. In the banks eyes convenience trumps face-to-face relationships and requires fewer employees to accomplish the same tasks, resulting in a healthier bottom line.

But how can the bank compete with other banks when it comes to relationship management? How can you keep that friendly feeling when the customer is tapping a keyboard or punching a machine on Main Street, or zapping checks with his or her new phone?

When People Do Come In, Make It Count

When I walked into the bank a nice gentleman in a gray suit holding a clipboard welcomed me and my first thought was, “Oh no, I’m going to get hit with some kind of survey before I get out of here.” But since there were other people in line ahead of me the gray suit guy thanked them and continued greeting people. As you can imagine being a business guy this sort of peaked my interest. What is this guy doing?

When I went up to the window to make my deposit a very nice young lady named Candice helped me. How do I know her name? No she didn’t have a nametag. She confirmed my first name on the deposit slip and introduced herself to me. Definitely a nice touch.

The Hits Just Keep On Comin’

After my deposit I headed over to the business section to find out more about zapping checks with my phone. Both bank employees were busy with customers so I sat down to wait. I noticed the gray suit guy was talking to someone at the window and I thought, “Ah Hah, profiling.” But no, I was wrong again. Gray suit guy brought that customer and his skateboard over to where I was sitting assuring him that he’d be taken care of right away. His name was Tom by the way. Gray suit guy called him by name.

He then noticed me sitting there and asked what I was waiting for and I told him my phone story and he brought someone over to help me with that. I sat down with Chad, who again introduced himself and got my name and between the two of us we set up my phone to scan checks and make deposits from my phone.

Some Final Thoughts

I walked out of that bank with mixed feelings about my experience. One, it felt good to be acknowledged as a person, called by name and felt like every step of the way people where doing something that didn’t cost the bank a dime. They were being nice, they were being respectful, and they were being helpful.

On the other hand I’d seen service like this before. The head regional honchos show up and everyone pulls out their “over the top” customer service. Then a few weeks later everyone is back in “rude” mode again. I guess I’ll wait a few weeks and maybe make another run at this branch or perhaps another branch to see if this level of service will stick. If it does, I would commend this business for bringing some personality into a dreary technocratic world. I doubt Candice or Chad will hear about this article; but on this one particular day they made a great impression on someone. I hope they keep it up after the gray suit guy is gone.

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