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Citi branches to shutter doors to work on customer service

‘Hello, my name is’

NEW YORK – Citi is closing its bank branches a few hours early Saturday to train workers in providing friendlier customer service. The mandatory session is part of an effort to create a “warmer, friendlier feel” at the 1,000 or so Citibank locations across the country, said Brad Dinsmore, who heads Citi’s retail banking unit. Most branches will close at 1 p.m. in their respective time zones.

Citi’s first national training day comes at a time when banks are struggling to build customer loyalty in the face of growing online options. “When you look at retail banking, most banks have similar products,” Dinsmore said. “At the end of the day, what customers really want is good service.”

Making connections

Yet an internal survey of Citi customers last summer revealed the bank fell short in that key area. In particular, customers cited inconsistent service from the bank’s various departments.

As a result, part of Saturday’s training will focus on how to help customers navigate the bank, whether they have a question about a credit card, mortgage or savings account. More broadly, however, the four-hour training session will teach workers how to make an emotional connection with customers, Dinsmore said. Workers will take part in role play scenarios and watch a series of videos, one of which is themed, “Engaging Hearts and Minds.”

The vast majority of Citi’s 10,000 workers are expected to attend the training session at one of 58 off-site locations. Citi says the training day was inspired by a similar event held by Starbucks in 2008. The coffee chain shut down its stores for three hours one day as part of a back-to-basics tutorial for 135,000 workers at about 7,100 stores.

Associated Press