PeoplesBank Leverages Universal Associates to Deepen Brand Loyalty

Based in Holyoke, Mass., and established in 1885, PeoplesBank has proudly been named as a Top Place to Work by The Boston Globe for seven years in a row. What makes the bank such a good place to work? One is the emphasis they place on the customer experience by allowing employees to break free of the limitations of job silos and shift into positions that allow them to do whatever is necessary to help others.
“Customers do still depend on our branches to open accounts, apply for loans, and to seek financial advice,” Sheila King-Goodwin, Senior Vice President for Retail Banking explained to Loyalty360. “So, one of the ways that we are changing is shifting our resources from focusing on everyday teller transactions to focusing on having enough personnel to work with customers when they have a financial need. We’re making the investment to change our model to incorporate more universal associates who will be able to provide superior customer service regardless of if a customer has a teller transaction or if they’d like to apply for a home equity loan. It makes us more efficient and allows the customer relationship to continue to be fostered.”
Being innovative isn’t just a saying at PeoplesBank. It has led the charge in many areas of innovation, including being the 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.
“Our programs to build customer loyalty start internally, building loyalty and employee engagement among our associates,” King-Goodwin said. “As much as we want happy, loyal customers, we want the same in our employees even more.”
Adjusting employees’ roles is almost a requirement these days because of the never-ending changes that take place with customers.
“Today’s banking customer relies less on brick-and-mortar branches for their everyday transactions and much more on digital banking—the ability to access their accounts, pay bills, and deposit checks 24/7—and from a variety of digital devices: phones, tablets, and laptops,” King-Goodwin said. “This has led to our organization being more focused on ‘meeting them where they are,’ investing to stay innovative, and to offer the digital services that are at least the equal of the major multinational institutions and a step above what other local community banks in our area offer. Investments in technology and innovation to remain relevant have been a strong undercurrent to our success.”
As a mutual bank with an expressed mission to serve the communities where it’s located, PeoplesBank officials believe that one of their strongest competitive advantages is our customer service,” King-Goodwin added. “As banking grows increasingly mobile and digital, and visits to the branches decrease, it is an increasing challenge to deliver top-notch customer service—a smile, a hello, a genuine interest in an in-branch customer, and an in-depth knowledge of that customer that might lead to additional cross-selling opportunities. Deep, meaningful relationships are harder to develop in a digital world, whether you’re talking about social media, texting, or online banking. We need to be continually finding new ways to surprise and delight our customers.”

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