On The Shore On The shore — 04 November 2012
Banking on happier customers

Over the past five years or so, banks have become vilified in America’s collective eye for managing to rise above the financial suffering so many of us have dealt with. The problem: many customers still feel that their bank just doesn’t care about them.

But give them a little credit. They’re aware — especially after having lost a great deal of business to credit unions of late — and many are taking measures to undo the damage and win back their customers’ faith. Case in point: First Southern Bank, with 15 locations in Florida. “Our clients have direct access to the bank’s decision-makers,” says president and CEO Lynne Wines. That means that instead of being directed to a call center when they telephone one of the bank’s branches — where local managers make all their own decisions — customers reach a live banker who will assist them right away.

That service holds great appeal, but rapidly changing times call for banks to keep up with advances in technology to keep customers happy and to lure younger customers as well. Today, according to www.gobankingrates.com, 76 percent of big banks offer mobile banking, with many more planning to launch apps by next year, so transfers, balance checks and online transactions can be taken care of via smart phone. And thanks to Social Media, you can go to a bank’s Facebook page — such as Wells Fargo’s — which is an open book when it comes to customer comments. Then there are incentives like actual cash rewards: open a Chase Total Checking account and set up direct deposit, and you’ll receive $150 in return. Now there’s an offer that is sure to hold your interest.

—Lori Capullo

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