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Jana Adkins: Bank branch adds a little beat to shake up the standard

Business Notes

Posted: January 31, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: January 31, 2012 1:55 a.m.
 

I love it when I have a good experience with an innovative business, but honestly, I never expected to find myself in that situation while in a bank.

I mean, banks are supposed to be serious stewards of our money, which by definition means they have to be a little stuffy, doesn’t it?

Sure, banks have upped the innovative side of the business over the years by introducing smartphone and online banking, “guest greeters” and calling the multiple accounts and services they offer by fancy names that make one feel, well, important when they qualify for such a service or account.

About the only time I don’t feel slightly anxious at a bank, however, is when I deposit money or am told a loan has been approved. I have no idea where the conditioning to feel anxious came from, either. I’ve never really had a negative bank experience.

But recently, I had a positive experience at my local Wells Fargo branch on McBean Parkway, where I was withdrawing money that perhaps would have been better served by remaining in the account.

Imagine — feeling upbeat about withdrawing money.

While sitting at a banker’s desk, I became aware of the fact that I was tapping my foot to music and generally feeling very good about the entire transaction. Rather than playing sedate, calming elevator music on speakers set up throughout the bank, this particular branch was playing music I could get up and dance to.

The music selections were of the kind that transcend multiple generations, and it wasn’t too loud — but it was turned up just enough to envelope me in the experience.

I asked the banker whose idea it was to pipe in dance music, and he replied, “It was my idea.”

“And the bank approved?” I asked.

“Yes,” he replied.

Each branch can somewhat customize the experience its account holders have, and it was his idea to bring in upbeat, feel-good music, he said.

Well, it worked.

I shouldn’t have been feeling so positive about the withdrawal I was making, but instead of feeling anxious, I was actually enjoying myself while I waited and listened to the music.

In fact, strange as this might sound, I was having such a relaxing and happy experience, I really didn’t want to transaction to wrap up too quickly because it would mean returning to work, where there was no music playing.

Moving somewhat rhythmically to the beat of the music while still planted in the chair, I told the young banker what a great idea it was to play music that made customers feel like dancing and created a happy sensation at the same time they had to conduct serious bank business.

I haven’t been back to this particular branch for about a month, but I sure hope they continue catering to the customer by making banking a happier, more upbeat experience with their music choices.

A bank is the very last place I would expect to hear dance music. But why not? Retail stores often play music to energize shoppers and make them feel good about spending their money. Why shouldn’t I feel good about withdrawing my money, too?

I applaud the bank for allowing branches to customize its customers’ experience in innovative ways. And more so, I applaud the young man for thinking so far outside the box of banking that he thought to add a mix of dance music to the often sterile atmosphere of banking.

Jana Adkins is the Signal business editor and she can be reached at jadkins@the-signal.com.

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