PeoplesBank Creates Differentiation, Customer Loyalty Through Authenticity

Sheila King-Goodwin, senior vice president for PeoplesBank, is profoundly passionate about her job, her colleagues, and, most importantly, the bank’s customers. It’s that personalized customer engagement that drives PeoplesBank, which is based in Holyoke, Mass., and was established in 1885.

At the outset of her session, “Branch of the Future: It’s Not Just About the Building, It’s Your Brand,” Monday at the 6th annual Engagement & Experience Expo presented by Loyalty360, King-Goodwin talked about how there are 11,000 fewer banks nationwide, than in 1984. Monthly teller volumes are way down, and, with the onset of online banking, far fewer branch visits.

“When they come in a branch, we really have to nail that customer experience,” King-Goodwin said. “We create differentiation through authenticity.”

Innovation is a critical part of the DNA of PeoplesBank, so much so that it created a Customer Innovation Lab and hired a data scientist.

“The Customer Innovation Lab is one of those long-term investments that, along with our new Business Intelligence platform, will allow us to quickly bring to market products and services that foster a frictionless customer experience,” King-Goodwin said. “What’s important to our customers is that our team is knowledgeable.”

PeoplesBank was one of the first community banks in the country to launch mobile banking and Apple Pay. King-Goodwin noted that PeoplesBank’s mutual charter allows for investments in technology and innovation, rather than diverting earnings as stockholder dividends.

PeoplesBank goes the extra mile to engage its employees in a highly collaborative, fun atmosphere that is extended to its loyal customers. King-Goodwin noted that “Cupcake Fridays” are very popular in PeoplesBank branches. What’s more, PeoplesBank associates also try to help customers in need, that has nothing to do with banking. It is a quite unique and attractive quality in a bank, or any business a customer engages with on a regular basis.

PeoplesBank is always on the cutting edge and wants to remain there, which can be clearly seen in its tagline: A passion for what is possible.

Established in 1885, PeoplesBank is a leader in innovation, corporate responsibility, environmental sustainability, and employee engagement. Based in Holyoke, Massachusetts, PeoplesBank operates 19 offices throughout the region, including three LEED® certified offices that are environmentally friendly. PeoplesBank has financed more than $96 million in wind, hydroelectric, and solar energy projects.
Its attention to innovation and customer experience has brought PeoplesBank countless accolades, including being recognized as a “Top Place To Work” by The Boston Globe and a “Best Place to Work” by the Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce and the Springfield Republican.

“Associates make a difference in the lives of our customers, not necessarily for a banking product,” King-Goodwin said.

PeoplesBank was also first to market in using social media to engage customers, prospects, and the community. Today, its products, content marketing, and community service efforts are all disseminated through mobile channels to support self-educating prospects along the customer journey.

With far fewer banks across the country, King-Goodwin noted that some bank branches in the future could include video tellers or be completely teller-less.

“We have to stay nimble because we know digital is taking some of our business,” she said.

King-Goodwin offered some advice to advice for all loyalty marketers, not just bankers.

Create differentiation that is genuine and authentic.

Identify brand elements: What makes you different?

Identify branch strategy:

Brand: Social media, online, marketing, corporate giving

Market: Opportunities in the market; branch size/type by market; customer experience

Associates: Right staffing; universal associates; consistent training; establish sales culture

Building: Right size to market; use new technology; incorporate kit of parts

Branch models: Traditional branch (Large branch); HUB (medium branch); SPOKE (small branch)

PeoplesBank brand elements: Environment- Community-Innovation; frictionless customer experience; and environment-community-customer

Brand strategy:

Brand elements:

Market: First in the market to focus on Environmental; Leader in the market on Charitable Giving/Volunteerism

Associates: Right staffing, Universal associates; consistent training

Building: Use new technology; incorporate kit of parts

Establish kit of parts: Community-business wall; coffee bar; online kiosk; media area; brand wall; teller pods; waiting for area; meeting space; EV charging station

Create the right culture: Hire the right associates; focus on new hire orientation; incorporate development training; reinforce messages, and be generous with benefits launch

Back to basics: Execute on the little things such as:

Stay True to Your Brand

Simplify Product Line

Hire the Right People

Create a Strong Culture

Create Memorable Moments

Focus on Your Best Customers

Customers have many different options so treat them like kings and queens

“Tell your story and nail it,” King-Goodwin said. “It’s about your relationships with the customers.”

Recent Content

Membership and Pricing

Videos and podcasts

Membership and Pricing