What Matters Most – 120th Anniversary Conversations with Carol McNair
Announcer: Welcome to the “What Matters Most” podcast, presented by First United Bank & Trust. That’s my bank. Visit us today at mybank.com.
Eric: Hello, and welcome to “What Matters Most,” the podcast all about finances, community, savings, and security for you, your family, and your business. This podcast is brought to you by the helpful folks at My Bank, First United Bank & Trust. I’m your host, Eric Nutter, and in today’s episode, “What Matters Most” is First United’s 120th anniversary. And for this helpful discussion, I am thankful to be joined remotely today by Carol McNair, First United’s customer service center manager. And officially, the most tenured associate at First United. Good morning, Candy. How are you?
Carol: I’m good, Eric. How about you?
Eric: I am doing well. I really appreciate you joining me this morning and talking about the bank and get a little background on you and the bank. You know, this month, we kicked off our celebration of 120 years of First United. We started in November 15th of 1900, and we got a lot of fun things happening and we wanted to use the opportunity to kind of talk to some of the folks that have worked here for a long time. Former associates, new people that are here, and just really get different thoughts and backgrounds about the folks that make First United what it is. So, as the most tenured associate here, you are, of course, the first one that I wanted to talk to. So, I appreciate you joining me.
Carol: Not a problem.
Eric: So, tell us a little bit about what you do here at the bank as the customer service center manager.
Carol: Well, Eric, I do manage the customer service center. We take care of the bank’s customers’ financial needs by phone. It’s pretty simple as that. We help with their accounts, their existing accounts. We open new accounts, take loan applications over the phone, help them with all their electronic services, their, you know, mobile banking, mobile deposits, and everything like that. So, we are busy bees in the customer service center.
Eric: Well, yeah, and you guys handle quite a few phone calls. What’s the number sitting at right now in a normal month?
Carol: In a normal month, it’s right around 12,000 calls that we take inbound.
Eric: Twelve thousand calls a month, wow.
Carol: Correct. Yeah.
Eric: That’s wild.
Carol: And that varies depending on what’s going on in the world, you know?
Eric: Sure. Sure. How has COVID been on that?
Carol: In the beginning of the lockdown, we did see a pretty tremendous increase in calls. Now, it’s more leveled off here recently.
Eric: Yeah. As things start to get a little bit back to [inaudible 00:03:10] but normal?
Carol: Right. Right.
Eric: So, how long have you worked at First United?
Carol: I have been with First United for 44 years.
Eric: Forty-four years.
Carol: Yes, I started when I was very, very young.
Eric: Yeah. Like, I think negative 15 years, right?
Eric: Not a day over 29, Candy.
Carol: That’s right. That’s right.
Eric: So, what was the bank like back then? How big was it? Where were we like in an office standpoint?
Carol: Well, when I started, we were First National Bank of Oakland, many, many, many years ago, we were much smaller in size. We had offices in just Garrett and Allegheny counties at that point. And then later, we acquired other banks and opened new locations. But yeah, we were definitely much smaller.
Eric: Yeah. So, and I assume you didn’t start in the call center. We probably didn’t even have a call center at that time.
Carol: No, no.
Eric: So, where did you start in the bank?
Carol: I actually, my very first job was in bookkeeping. I worked in Oakland in the main office. And later on, I transferred to be a teller in one of the branches down in Allegheny County. And I worked down there for several years and then transferred up to Garrett County to work in a branch there. And then I started working in the marketing department and worked there for 16 years, and went to the customer service center in 1994, and been there since then. Started out on the phones as a representative, and then later moved to the position I’m in now.
Eric: Okay. So, when did the customer service centers begin? When was it founded, I guess?
Carol: Actually, we started preparation and training in late 1994 and actually began taking calls in August of 1995. So, we actually…25 years this past August, we were a customer service center officially.
Eric: I gotcha. So, you were one of the founding members, one of the founding associates of the service center?
Carol: I was. I was. Absolutely yes. And that was pretty awesome to be in the beginning because, you know, there weren’t customer service centers in the local bank, so it was something new and to bring it up from the ground and see where we were then and see where we are now, tremendously exciting.
Eric: Yeah. Yeah. Like did it start off with just, like, one or two people answering phones or was it always a larger staff?
Carol: No, no. We started out with only four people.
Eric: Oh, wow.
Carol: Yeah. Yeah. And we started out with, you know, minimal hours. We worked just the regular 9 to 5 hours. And then, you know, we gradually extended a little later in the evening and opened a little earlier in the day, and to where we are today with working 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day, Monday to Friday.
Eric: Right. That seems to be really beneficial for a lot of customers being able to call after hours. I know, I can’t tell you how many times I think of something that I needed to do, and I mean, I work here and it’s just…but I’m like, “There’s something I needed to do.” And then I’m like, “Oh, the call center is open.” And I call.
Carol: Right, right. Yeah. It’s really convenient for customers that, you know, work through the day and need to do the banking in the evening, I think we’re here to help.
Eric: Absolutely. And then what kind of things now, I mean, obviously, you all can help with pretty much anything a customer might need, but I think a lot of times these days, it’s tech support, does that sound right? Like a lot of our internet banking, mobile banking, mobile deposit kind of questions?
Carol: Absolutely. We do a lot of that. That’s a good portion of our calls. You’ll have a certain amount that are just, you know, balances or what have you, but we do a lot of, you know, helping people get logged into internet banking for the first time, or, you know, if they’re locked out, if they’re having trouble with their mobile banking and teaching them how to do [inaudible 00:07:10] deposits, we teach them over the phone, so to speak.
Eric: Yeah. That’s so cool. Well, so, as celebrating the 120 years of First United, as you know, and, you know, we’ve got contests going on, we’ve got this year-long celebration, we’re gonna be sharing, sharing information. But, you know, First United is about a lot of things. We have, from a culture standpoint, we always talk about a lot of different things about our community, relationships, and trust. But one of the big things we talk about are solutions. We always like to talk about how we want to provide solutions to our customers. And so, I wanted to ask you, you know, with First United being all about solutions, what does 120 years of solutions mean to you?
Carol: Well, I’ll tell you, with looking at 120 years and, you know, me only [inaudible 00:08:08] for 40 of them, it’s all about change. You know, it’s all about change. The needs of the bank’s customers have changed many times in my career. But the good thing about First United is we’ve always tried to be proactive in providing solutions to meet their needs, you know, as they change. You know, whether it’s providing different deposit products or loan options, and in the electronic banking, you know, when something new and cool comes out, we offer it to our customers. So, we always try to find a solution, and banking has definitely changed over the last 120 years without a doubt.
Eric: Oh, gosh. It absolutely has. One of my favorite things that I’ve found in working here was some of the old advertisements. We found old books of advertisements that were kept from years and years and years ago, and we were flipping through them and it would say things like this, “latest new technology,” and it was, like, a picture of a check. And it’s just amazing, like that kind of stuff just cracks me up. I love it.
Carol: Yeah. And what the latest new technology is today, I mean, who would ever think that you could take a picture of a check and it was deposited in [inaudible 00:09:21], you know? Amazing, the changes. But, you know, I think that’s one thing that First United is good at is we try to stay on top of the new things and try to make them available to our customers.
Eric: Absolutely. So, Candy, you know, being here for as long as you have, you’ve seen a lot, and you’ve been a part of a lot, you know, what’s one of your favorite memories from the bank as being a part of this community?
Carol: Oh, wow. Well, you know, I’m sure there’s quite a few over the years. I know one thing when I worked in the marketing department way back then, we only had two employees and every year we’d…getting out, you know, the bank encourages everybody to get out into the communities and the employees, you know, to meet and greet the customers and what have you, but we set up a booth at the fair. I know it’s done differently these days, but we would manage it through the day and, you know, so many customers, non-customers through a community, but you actually got to spend time and get to know customers. And it was just a cool experience. And I think, you know, being in the beginning stages of the call center, that was the other thing that I really enjoyed being a part of.
Eric: I’m sure. I’m sure. Yeah. What it comes down to is the relationships and just the ability to interact with all the people in the community and just the building of family internally. I mean, because I feel like that’s what the call center has always seemed to me to be, it’s a family. And that we work so well together.
Carol: Right. Absolutely. We are a family. And yeah, that’s one thing I look forward to every day and, you know, is seeing the people I work with and being there. We’re all there for one another and that’s what the bank encourages and that’s what we’re all about.
Eric: Absolutely. Yeah. And that was actually my next question for you was what do you look forward to each morning? Do you have anything more beyond that or is it truly the people?
Carol: Well, the people, I mean, obviously, that’s the highlight of the day is seeing your co-workers and being with them and, you know, working together to work through problems or situations that you have. Obviously, in the call center, you never know what your day is going to bring. You know, that in itself makes every day exciting and different. You know, being able to help people is a big thing for me, you know, that makes me feel good at the end of the day.
Eric: Yeah. Absolutely. And after 120 years of helping people, what do you think is next for First United?
Carol: Well, I would say that the customer experience should probably only get better with First United in the years to come. I mean, we’re always looking for ways to make it a better experience, more pleasant, convenient. We’re always exploring new ways for the customer to do the banking. So, as many changes as we’ve seen since I’ve been here, I can only imagine what’s going to happen in the future. I’ll just think about a check and it’ll be in my account. I think it was a million dollars.
Eric: That’s exactly what I’m expecting. I want the thought banking. Yeah. Awesome. Awesome.
Eric: Well, Candy, thank you so much for joining me today…
Carol: You are very welcome, Eric.
Eric: …and talking about the history here. And if anyone has questions, I bet you you have a number that they can call to reach out to get the help they need with their banking needs.
Carol: Absolutely. It’s 1-888-692-2654.
Eric: It is. It is. And it’s from 8 to 8 on weekdays. So, even after hours, you can get the support you need.
Eric: Awesome. Awesome. Candy, thanks again. Really appreciate it.
Carol: You are very welcome. You have a good day.
Eric: You too. That brings us to the end of our show. You can always find more episodes by visiting mybank.com/podcast or find us on your favorite podcast app. And we’re on basically every podcast app there is. So, find us on your favorite one and give us a subscribe and a five-star review, that helps other people find valuable information that we’re providing. You can also leave feedback, ask questions, or request a topic for us to discuss by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. And while we’re at it and while we’re talking about the 120th anniversary, as a reminder, visit our website at mybank.com/120 for your chance to win some great cash prizes and learn more about our 120th-anniversary events and different things that we have going on. It’s really exciting, and we’d encourage you to check it out. That’s mybank.com/120. Thanks again for listening. We’ll be back next week with more helpful content, but until then, we wish you the best in focusing on what matters most to you.
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