501 Life Magazine | First Service Bank adds video teller capability
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First Service Bank adds video teller capability

by Sonja J. Keith
Mike Kemp photos

First Service Bank is going high-tech when it comes to providing quality customer service.

The bank, headquartered in Greenbrier, has plans to install video teller equipment at 10 of its locations throughout the state. The machine, which resembles an ATM, puts customers in face-to-face contact with a banker located in the First Service Care Center in Greenbrier.

Customers can conduct a variety of transactions through a video teller from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., including cashing a check, loan payments, withdrawals, money transfers and deposits. Video teller capability is planned for each of the First Service locations in Conway, with two in Clinton, two in Greenbrier and one in Shirley.

In addition to video tellers, First Service has enhanced customer service options through its Care Center. By dialing 501.679.8000, customers can receive assistance from bankers via phone or email from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays. Bankers, who have received training on a broad area of bank products and services, can help with a variety of transactions, from checking a balance to assisting with a lost or stolen debit card.

Previously, most of the First Service drive-thru locations were open until 6 p.m. If a question or problem occurred after that time, support was limited.

Jon Patrom, retail sales/marketing officer, said that the bank provided exceptional customer service in the past but the new equipment and care center will expand what can be offered.

“It’s going to become more defined customer service and the care center is going to be handling these issues,” he said. “That level of customer service will start coming through even more in time.”

Technology is a major factor in the change as well as changes in how and when customers need to access services. “We’re open from 8 to 5, but when do most people need to do their banking and or when do most people need our services? It’s before we’re open and after we’re closed,” Patrom said.

Last year, First Service online account opening to help meet customer needs but bank officials felt there was more that could be done. “The biggest thing is trying to accommodate our customers and meet them when they need to be met. It might be 9 o’clock at night, in their pajamas after they get the kids to bed.”

First Service bankers have conducted extensive research into video tellers, which included a trip to a similar-sized bank in Tennessee which has also implemented the new technology.

First Service President and CEO Tom Grumbles said while the video teller system is fairly new in the state, the changes represent the future of banking. “We’re not just mavericks. There are already a few machines in Arkansas. There are other banks in our market that are talking about it.”

Grumbles said one of the features of the video teller equipment will be the ability to make a deposit up until 9 p.m. that will be posted that day. “Extending our hours is the key,” he said. “There won’t be any of that old 2 o’clock, 4 o’clock or 6 o’clock cutoff,” he said. “We don’t know for sure, but I don’t think there’s another bank in the state of Arkansas that has same day post time at 9 o’clock at night.”

Patrom said First Service bankers are assisting more customers in a non-traditional way. “We’re waiting on more customers and dealing with more customer transactions than we ever have done, with the lowest volume in our banks,” he said. “We know our customers need that support after hours.”

Grumbles said that trend for less activity in branches is industry-wide. “A large number of accounts that are opened are not opened in brick and mortar,” he said, explaining that they are opened instead at the customer’s home.

A longtime banker, Grumbles recalls that he has seen many changes in banking over the years. He said First Service was one of the first banks to install ATMs in its southeast locations and now the bank is one of the first with VTMs. “With the internet and mobile banking and remote deposit capture, people just don’t come to the bank like they did when I started out.”

While change can be difficult to get used to, Grumbles anticipates that First Service customers will embrace and enjoy the service provided through the bank’s video teller as they are educated about the equipment and its advantages. First Service bankers are available to help customers transition to the new equipment.

“We are excited about it for a lot of reasons and our customers,” Grumbles said, adding that the care center will enhance the level of support First Service can provide. “It takes us to another level of fulfilling customers’ needs regardless of the generation. If someone wants to come in the bank, we’ll be there and offer super service. If that don’t want to come in the bank, we have a vehicle and product to take care of them. If they work shift work and need to come to the bank at 9 o’clock, we can take care of them.”