Letters From Leton: One Ringy Dingy

A number of years ago, Tammie and I had the opportunity to meet and spend some time with Lily Tomlin at a Barter Event. Very kind and warm lady.

Ms. Tomlin has played a lot of memorable characters over the years, including Ernestine the Operator (she did a take on Ernestine at the Barter event). Ernestine was a nosey and bawdy operator.

I thought about Ernestine and phone operators this week as I reviewed the results of a recent banking survey. I was most drawn to the customer service comments made by the participants about some other banks. Here are a few examples*:

  1. “The phone was answered by a machine, and we were told (by the phone system) there was a 4-minute wait to talk to a real person.”
  2. “We were transferred blindly and then there was no answer by the party we were transferred.”
  3. “One financial institution has their voicemail on all day.”
  4. “They did not know the answer to my question and had no one else available to answer.”
  5. “They weren’t sure about the answer to my question and said I’d have to come in to speak with someone in person to get more information.”

*Comments have been edited for clarity, length, and to protect the anonymity of the financial institution being referenced.

When I read these responses my jaw literally dropped! How can you do business this way as a Bank (especially a community bank)?

I compare those answers to our Bank policies and procedures:We have a real human answering the phone (within 3 rings) with a smile in their voice!

We train our staff on how to help customers (unlock online banking, give out balances, increase debit card limits, etc.) so customers don’t have to be transferred to someone else for an answer to many of their questions.

We provide staff with a list of folks who handle special areas, such as ACH or loans, so customers can quickly be put in touch with the appropriate person.

We train our staff on the proper way to transfer calls when needed so there is no confusion for the customer or staff.

Why do people keep banking with places that offer inferior services?

Because most folks do not know about a place that treats them better – PVNB!

– Leton

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“Letters From Leton” is a blog series comprised of the weekly updates that Leton Harding – President, Chairman, and CEO of Powell Valley National Bank, shares with the Bank’s team members. These newsletters are full of uplifting anecdotes and intriguing insights that are applicable beyond the Bank, so we want to share them with you.