02 May 2012

Where Everybody Knows Your Name...

Several months ago, my local bank was bought out and the branch that was most convenient for me was moved to a supposedly more convenient location a bit further away and next to a new grocery store. Mostly this means the parking lot is generally a hassle and there's more traffic to contend with.

The new bank is also very oddly designed, no doubt the result of some misguided consumer research to make it seem more personal. Instead of walking up to a counter, there are a couple of pillars which each accommodate two teller stations and have chairs for the customers by them.

I don't want to sit down when I go to the bank for a quick transaction and I don't want anyone else to either. It begs for people to sit and chat and take forever.

That's not the biggest problem though. There's rarely 4 tellers working at once, so typically they pick the far sides of the pillars where you can't see them and vice-versa when you walk in.

There's often a great deal of bafflement caused by the pillars. For example, if a lot of people are waiting, just where do you stand to be next? One main line? Smaller lines for each teller?

I'm also annoyed by the acronym plastered everywhere which is not made from the bank's name but rather, their idiotic slogan.

I endured the branch for a couple months while wistfully looking at the empty branch I used to go to. Apparently a new bank would be going in there eventually. Some law against monopolies prevented the property from being converted into something else.

About a month after I'd given up on the moved branch, a new bank went into the old branch I liked. I must've been one of their first customers because they were still figuring out their computers, rates, and such even though they'd officially been open for a day and had had a soft opening the week before.

The manager was busy with someone else so I had to wait quite a while. The two tellers introduced themselves, did their best to answer my questions, and checked in with me while I was waiting. The manager's office had glass walls and every time it seemed like they were wrapping up, it got dragged out a bit longer.

Eventually, the other customer left and I set up my account.

The next time I went in a little over a week later, the same three people were working and all greeted me by name which caught me off guard. The tellers at the previous bank had seen me a few times a month for a year and though they recognized me, they didn't really know my name.

I started doing a quick mental check of the tellers' names before walking in to the bank so I could greet them in kind without hesitation.

The catch is that a couple of new people have started working at the branch. The first tellers still say, "Hi, Claire!" when I walk in, so the new people have also picked it up, but I don't know their names. Actually I think one is Shelby but that's based on a quick scan of a name plaque by her station. I haven't been confident enough to try it out yet.

Remember Norm on Cheers? The enthusiasm of their hellos is pretty close to that; they just don't say it in unison. Maybe it's because there's rarely any other customers there. It feels weird to me.

Why weird though? It's just good customer service on their part. I suppose I feel singled out even if I'm the only customer there, a pack of attention on me. There may also be mythical associations: knowing a creature's name gives you power over it. They all know my name.

Hmm, fairly sure I'm the one that's weird here.

Two years ago on TTaT: Sketchbook, page 25 (It's the Taj Mahal!)


  1. When I'm at work I'm supposed to give out my name like, "Let me put those clothes in a fitting room for you, by the way my name is Sarah if you need anything else." I hate doing it. I'm pretty sure the customer doesn't care what my name is as long as I don't suck at my job. I'm supposed to keep reminding them and ask their name and have this whole super fake exchange like we are BFFs. Seriously. It annoys me because I hate when people just say my name and I'm like WTF WHO ARE YOU! only to realize they read it off my debit card or whatever.

    Names, man. Names.

    1. Ooh, I'd find asking for my name really off-putting. Makes sense that you'd give your name once if they need help (&/or you get extra $ for sales you make) but repeatedly seems a bit much. Sales tactics, man.

      Maybe I'm an old fogey but I also don't like it when customer service people on phones call me Claire. Ms. Skinner would be fine, it's respectful, but my first name is too casual and familiar in that scenario for my taste.

      Went to the bank today, got greeted by name by two tellers, one whose name I know and the possible Shelby. And I swear to Science, even though the manager was on the phone (perhaps on hold?), he called out, "Hi, Claire!" from his office.

      I finally went ahead and asked the 2nd teller if her name was Shelby. It is, huzzah. Just felt impolite to know the others names and not hers for sure.