Chris Kiger and Mia McBroom at Piedmont Advantage Credit Union. Courtesy of Piedmont Advantage Credit Union
Last night, Nikki and I went into our local grocery store on our way home from the office. It was an impromptu urge for a pre-made pie to pair with ice cream we already had in the freezer. Clearly, not a major food run for a week’s worth of groceries for a household of three growing and hungry boys! We took a quick look around the store that had been newly updated. The floors were very clean, the lights very bright and the uniforms were fresh. There was a giant wine section, deli, butcher counter and even a small floral area. We could clearly see and appreciate all of the time and funds that were thoughtfully put into a very well planned and smart upgrade; I was impressed. What turned my amazement into frustration was, my once home-grown grocery store, had more automated checkout lines than real human cashiers.
I was quickly reminded about a few weeks prior when I went to Home Depot to pick up a few replacement screws to fix my kitchen cabinets. After endless searching up and down numerous aisles, I was disgusted to find an automatic checkout machine. So, like a child looking for a parent, I went to Lowe’s Home Improvement …and found it equally run by a robot.
Just a month before to that, I flew out of town and was invited by the US Airways/American Airlines agent to check in at an automated kiosk. While on my flight to the business meeting, I was left stewing, where is the general concept of good American customer service? Where is that warm smile from a friendly face? Where is that personal touch that causes most people to want to return to your store?
More and more frequently, businesses are going towards the robot check-in and check-out lines. The loyalty to the customer is becoming less of a consideration. The price to do business, especially in high end stores like Harris Teeter, Lowes Food etc. is not going down, yet the concept of customer service is going out the door.
However, fortunately in our own backyard, we have some companies that are taking note and wanting to revamp and modernize the idea of good ‘ol customer service. One of such is Piedmont Advantage Credit Union off Stratford Road. This legacy company, started by the founder of Piedmont Airlines (now American Airlines) Thomas Henry Davis, is taking a fresh, yet proven strategy to member service. To further investigate, I stopped by their branch and chatted with Mia McBroom and Chris Kiger. Chris is in charge of the Member Experience Advisor (MEA) program. What you will first notice as you walk in the door, is that the MEA’s greet you and walk with you to the appropriate office or person, not simply direct you. Unlike most financial institutions with a long counter, they do not have your typical tellers. These MEA’s work out of pods, which allows the credit union member (customer) to come around the desk and see what is actually going on in their account. This model also allows the MEA’s to serve more as trusted advisors.
The MEA’s offer members several products and services and then allow the members to choose (with guidance) which are most beneficial rather than just telling them. The CEO Judy Tharp and her right hand Zenobia Staley commented on the fact that Piedmont Advantage has been around for many years, but they never want to give up on their personal touch and relations with their members. Though it is still crucial to continue moving forward by introducing more innovative ways to enhance and make your banking experiences comfortable. For members, this includes having a really cool space for kids to hang out and entertain themselves with kid-friendly iPads, tasty premium coffee, and free Wi-Fi in the member café.
Here at 6th Sense Health and Wellness Center, the only automated aspect of our business, is the ability to schedule and cancel your appointments online, 24 hours a day. This gem of a tool, has saved our loyal clients countless hours on the phone (however, we still welcome and love your phone calls to book appointments too!!). We can 100% guarantee that you will never find a robot massage therapist or office staff member. Instead you will come across healthy and happy human touch to release your life stressors and smiles to welcome you through our doors, among many other humanly traits and qualities that seem be lacking in other parts of the community.
If you, like me and many others around us, are tired of being treated like a number passing in and out of grandiose revolving, chain-style business doors… give us a call. If you need more human touch… give us a call. And, if you are tired of being treated with lackluster ‘customer service’ by your local grocery or home improvement store… let your suppliers know, that you are tired of being over charged for less customer service. Improved technology is wonderful and it should aid in the costumer experience, not take away from it.
Nike Roach,MS, CPT, LMBT
6th Sense Wellness Group