By BECKY GILLETTE
Peoples Bank, a small community bank that is based in Mendenhall, prides itself on having personal relationships with its customers. Often tellers know the names of customers, and might even ask about their family. So, at first glance, it might appear that a “video teller” installed in New Hebron would be more impersonal than a traditional bank branch where tellers interact face-to-face with customers.
But, in fact, the Peoples Bank employees manning the video teller have gotten to know customers in New Hebron. And the interactions aren’t a whole lot different with the video teller than in person.
“We typically have two to three different employees who are serving that role as a live teller,” said Ashley M. Jones, vice president of marketing. “They take shifts to handle it for a whole day. They are typically sitting at a desk with the headset and can handle everything from there. The tellers on our end are enjoying the relationship that they have established in that community. And for our customers, it is always nice to see a familiar face on the other end. It is comforting. It makes you feel good that the teller knows who you are. That is just another part of being a small community bank. We enjoy getting to know our customers.”
Peoples Bank opened the video teller, known formally as an Integrated Teller Machine, in 2018, less than year ago, at 306 Franklin St. It is open Monday-Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Customers can drive through or walk up.
It is basically just like walking up to a teller. That is why we advertised it as a live teller. You don’t even need to have a debit card from the bank. You press the live teller button and she appears. We like to say our live teller can do everything a regular teller can do except hand out lollipops. She can check balances, handle deposits and withdrawals, or anything else you can do at a teller window.”
New Hebron is a small community. Jones said when the community lost the bank it had there, Peoples Bank wanted to reach out and try to give that community a bank they could get their hands on.
“A lot of people in this region live in rural areas and many of our customers were having to drive a long way to simply get cash or deposit their checks,” Jones said. “This is simply a way to reach a community in need. When we were looking for ways to help them, we felt this was a great option for an unbanked community like New Hebron. Honestly, probably this is the only way we could serve this community without putting an actual branch there. We thought this would be a great option to take advantage of some of the new technology and serve a community that was unbanked at the time. It really is fun technology.”
In addition to being available normal banking hours, the machine has a dual purpose also functioning as an ATM 24 hours a day.
Jones said they have been pleased with how well the community has received the ITM.
“I think for the most part the community has shown a lot of support and appreciates us putting a machine there,” Jones said. “We would love to see so much support that we would need a branch there. But this is a great way to fulfill that need in the interim.”
Jones said they take great pride in having at ITM that is a safe and secure machine.
“This is the very latest technology, so it has lots of safeguards,” she said. “There are definitely talks of expanding the use of ITM in others areas. We are in South Central rural Mississippi where there are a lot of people who have to drive a great distance to do banking. So, we are always looking for options to help expedite that process. And there really are a lot of technology products people can use now to keep from having to drive. For example, we have remote deposit captures. You send us a picture of the check and can deposit the check straight through your phone. I work upstairs and sometimes I will take a picture of a check instead of taking it downstairs to a teller. It is pretty simple.”
The ITM in New Hebron looks more like a bank than most ATM machines.
“It is actually very attractive,” Jones said. “We have it bricked and it is a very nice-looking building.”
Peoples Bank, which was established in 1908, has two locations in Mendenhall and branch offices in Collins, Magee and Richland. For more information, see the website www.peoplesbank-ms.com.
BEFORE YOU GO…
… we’d like to ask for your support. More people are reading the Mississippi Business Journal than ever before, but advertising revenues for all conventional media are falling fast. Unlike many, we do not use a pay wall, because we want to continue providing Mississippi’s most comprehensive business news each and every day. But that takes time, money and hard work. We do it because it is important to us … and equally important to you, if you value the flow of trustworthy news and information which have always kept America strong and free for more than 200 years.
If those who read our content will help fund it, we can continue to bring you the very best in news and information. Please consider joining us as a valued member, or if you prefer, make a one-time contribution.Click for more info