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Published: Sunday, 12/16/2012

Waterford Bank offers different experience for Perrysburg customers

BY REBECCA CONKLIN KLEIBOEMER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Customer service specialists Mary Hicks, left, works at her desk in Waterford Bank in Perrysburg. The branch lacks a teller counter. Customer service specialists Mary Hicks, left, works at her desk in Waterford Bank in Perrysburg. The branch lacks a teller counter.
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Walking into the new Waterford Bank branch in Perrysburg is more like walking into a friend's living room.

Comfy couches are situated near a big-screen television, and newspapers are laid out on the coffee table. Speaking of coffee, carafes of the hot beverage are available for free cups.

Customer service representatives sit at three large desks in an open area where clients are invited to also sit, relax, and chat while they conduct their business. There is no teller counter or rope line. There aren't even doors on some of the office spaces.

The touches are intentional, according to manager Glenn Paton.

"We try to make it a little more personal," he said of the branch at 231 Louisiana Ave, which opened Nov. 1.

READ Blade business story about Waterford Bank.

Waterford's founding partners -- Michael Miller, chairman and chief executive officer, Michael White, president and chief financial officer, and Larry Boyer, executive vice president and senior lending officer -- take seriously this customer-first philosophy, Mr. Paton said.

"They knew what banking used to be like in this town," he said.

The bank features an open layout, without a tellers counter or window, and comfortable couches for customers. The bank features an open layout, without a tellers counter or window, and comfortable couches for customers.
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Linda Tackett, one of three employees who handle transactions, said the staff does not pressure clients into products or services they don't need or want.

"It's totally opposite from how most of the big banks work," she said.

Tellers admitted to having some trepidation about the open office atmosphere.

"We weren't sure on that one at first, really. It's just a new concept," said Mary Hicks, who transferred from Waterford's main office at the corner of McCord Road and Sylvania Avenue in Sylvania Township.

The staff at the Perrysburg bank includes, from left, customer service specialist Linda Tackett, private banker Elixabeth Lorenzen, marketing manager Glenn Paton, and customer service specialist Mary Hicks and Amy Long. The staff at the Perrysburg bank includes, from left, customer service specialist Linda Tackett, private banker Elixabeth Lorenzen, marketing manager Glenn Paton, and customer service specialist Mary Hicks and Amy Long.
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The women said the benefits quickly became evident when customers felt more relaxed, which helped the staff learn how best to serve them.

"It's more personable. You can have a better conversation with the customer," said coworker Amy Long.

If all three desks are busy, folks are invited to sit on the couches and read or watch television, which can be changed to any channel. Ms. Tackett said parents liked being able to find children's programming to keep busy little ones in tow during their banking errands. There also is a drive-through lane outside.

Other staff include Elizabeth Lorenzen, who opens new accounts, and Ann Newman, who handles mortgages.

While Waterford does offer personal checking and savings, about 55 percent of the bank's business is from commercial entities, Mr. Paton said.

"There's no question we have a commercial bent," he said.

Mr. Paton said the Perrysburg location is ahead of pace with its goals for deposits and loans.

"We're very pleased with the progress, but we're looking forward to growth," he said.

Contact Rebecca Conklin Kleiboemer at 419-356-8786, rconklin@theblade.com, or on Twitter @RebeccaConklinK.



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