A customer service experience

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Published: May 25,2009

Tags: Banks, Colony Park, Ridgeland

BancorpSouth looks to better connect with clients

BancorpSouth recently rolled out a new concept at its Colony Park branch in Ridgeland that represents a radical new approach in customer relations. BancorpSouth’s new Customer Experience Center looks to better connect with its customers, a “meeting in the lobby,” so to speak, of bank personnel and their clients.

Randy Burchfield, senior vice president and director of marketing at BancorpSouth, said the Tupelo-based financial institution has been working on the Customer Experience Center for approximately a year now. Those who come in the Colony Park office, which just opened in November 2008, looking for the “traditional” experience — get in, conduct business and get out -—will be served in that way. However, those wanting to learn, explore or just slow down a little should find the Customer Experience Center to their liking.

“It is an opportunity to express our culture, to showcase all the bank has to offer,” Burchfield said. “We taking advantage of the opportunities presented by our lobby traffic.”

The Customer Experience Center has, indeed, transformed the Ridgeland branch’s lobby. In the lobby’s center, a circular structure replaces the traditional table where one finds deposit slips. It offers a hospitality area for customers who have time on their hands or are waiting to see someone. This includes a large, flat-screen television for entertainment, and a selection of coffees, all free. The area also offers a touch-screen computer where customers can do their business online.

And, there is something for the children, as well. In addition to the television, the area offers children’s toys and activities to keep young minds and hands occupied.

The area provides light-up kiosks that  display BancorpSouth’s services, products and basic philosophy. Along with brochures and other educational/promotional material, customers, indeed, “experience” what BancorpSouth is all about.

In the end, that is the aim of this new initiative. The center is much more than a place. It is about branding and a comprehensive retooling of marketing and merchandising and customer relations. It is about building brand and creating a new culture.

BancorpSouth says it is looking to:

n learn how to extend a welcome to its customers that invites them to browse or to be served.

n understand how to introduce, inform and educate its customers to the new branch.

n create the effective customer experience that deepens relationships and increases customer retention.

n realize how to better serve its customers by being prepared to deliver an experience through exceptional customer service.

The financial institution defines the standards of the “BancorpSouth Experience” as “to grow, deepen and retain relationships by providing a level of service that clearly sets us apart; to create memorable experiences by consistently exceeding expectations; to be courteous, knowledgeable, professional and trusted advisors; to engage our customers – anticipate, uncover and fulfill needs on a continuous cycle; and, to seek out innovative opportunities for continued improvement.”

This approach entails new training for bank personnel. To help develop and launch the Customer Experience Center, BancorpSouth enlisted NewGround of St. Louis, Mo.

NewGround has been serving the financial services industry since 1913. Over that time, the company worked more than 13,000 projects, and has lived up to its name, pioneering open retail lobbies, drive-up tellers as well as the Customer Experience Retail Design in 1995.

NewGround prides itself on being more than just an international design firm. It touts itself as an implementation firm. Its strategic solutions are based on five core offerings — brand, consult, design, build, retail and culture.

“We strive to stay in the forefront of new technology, design and retail communications to provide clients with the optimum competitive advantage,” said Kris Fortschneider, corporate communications director at NewGround. “We research and publish studies on the trends in retail delivery annually, which clearly communicate NewGround’s thought leadership in regards to the ever-changing financial services environment. NewGround also enlightens the financial industry on new trends in the market and how they are impacting service delivery at the branch level through workshops, conferences and national speaking engagements.”

Burchfield said BancorpSouth does not plan to roll out the Customer Experience Center concept in every office. He said plans call for it to be introduced in those offices and markets that present a good fit for the concept.

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