Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Mon, Oct 05 2009

The perks of doing a little business with a bank

When I was a child I lived in a small Midwestern town and used to marvel at the way our local bank workers knew so many people on sight. No one had to ask for identification during transactions. They knew you, your parents, your neighbors and your church friends.

Times have changed in many ways. We had some landowners and business owners in the area who I would often see chatting with loan officers at separate desks, but there was always coffee on in the general area of the bank and there were candy dishes near the tellers so that youngsters could receive a treat after waiting in line.

I live in a somewhat larger community now, but my spouse and I have banked at the same bank branch for more than 15 years. One of the things about this particular branch is that the layout allows the tellers to be on one side of the main room and the investment and loan managers to be on the other side. When we go in to see an investment or loan manager we bypass the people in the teller lines, often take a seat to wait, are greeted by several different people, are offered coffee/water and are assured someone will be with us in a few minutes. If the person we've come to see is delayed we are again approached with an offer for a beverage and an apology for any delay. This happens whether we have an appointment or just stop in on the chance that someone is available to meet with us. The service is professional, but so friendly and personal that I can imagine myself back in my old home town bank.

The thing that's different now is that the greetings from the loan and investment side of the room does not usually carry through to the teller side of the room. It has nothing to do with the amount of money involved. Quite often we go in to make some minor change in an investment account or simply ask a question of an investment or loan manager. But I've noticed more than once that we get these little stares from the customers who may be standing in a long line to see a teller while we are seated and offered refreshments.

It makes us feel appreciated and special to be fawned over in little ways. But I can't help but wonder what goes through the minds of those on the teller side of the room. If they're feeling envy they may not realize that we could be a position of preparing to owe the bank a whole lot of money in a mortgage or other lending situation. They might actually be happier over on the teller side of the room, cashing their paycheck. But the glances they give us say something else. It's not something we take personally, but it is interesting to see people react to the little attentions they see us getting.

And here's a thought. Maybe banks should think about giving a little more of that extra attention to people on the teller side of the room. Bankers could strike up a conversation with customers that might lure them over to the investment side of the room, particularly if that's where bankers perceive most of the money is being made.

posted at: 18:26 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

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