The Personal Touch

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:35 pm

With only one branch serving metropolitan Milwaukee, Citizens Bank needs a targeted and personal approach of banking to reach its customers and grow its market share. The Menomonee Falls branch of Flint, Mich.-based Citizens Bank has taken a more client-focused approach since Dick Hensley was named community bank president of the branch earlier this year.
The branch is the only Citizens Bank branch that serves metro Milwaukee, with clients in Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington, Waukesha and northern Racine counties.
The bank uses couriers to make its one location more convenient to clients around the five-county area it serves.
"Our strategy in this market is relationship-oriented toward the client," Hensley said. "All of our focus is on the client. We have a passion of sitting down with the client and asking them ‘What do you want to do with your business?’ Through that process, we work to become a trusted advisor instead of just selling them a product."
Citizens Bank is looking to add at least three employees in 2006 to its Menomonee Falls branch, Hensley said. Two of those people will work in commercial banking. The other will work as a private banker. Hensley said that person will serve the same clients, but will tend to their personal banking needs, rather than their businesses.
Hensley said the bank has identified three areas in metro Milwaukee where it would like to develop additional branches in the future: the Waukesha-Pewaukee area near highways 164 and J; the New Berlin-Franklin area; and downtown Milwaukee.
The biggest challenges will be finding the right people to lead and work in those offices, Hensley said.
The bank, which has not yet decided if it will own or lease the new branch locations, has not set a timeline for the expansion in the Milwaukee market, he said.
The key to the growth of Citizens Bank in the market will be the quality of customer service, Hensley said.
"We’re not necessarily responding to a RFP (request for proposals)," he said. "We really want to get to a point where I’m the only (banker) you’re talking to. We could have a big marketing budget, but we won’t displace any of the large banks in the market. The only way I’m going to win is to out-service and out-execute in our market by taking care of our clients."
One of the most important ways Hensley said he’s been able to connect with clients is by helping them network with other professionals who can help them.
"Say I have a client that is having a hard time designing a deferred compensation plan for high-level employees," Hensley said. "I can give that client someone’s card, or I can host a lunch for both of them where we can all sit at the same table."
By having both parties at the same table and being able to listen to their concerns or problems, Hensley said he’s both able to enhance his value to both clients because of the connection and gain valuable insight about both clients for the next time he’s thinking about specific financial products tailored to them.
"When I can sit back and watch you sell, I’m getting so much intelligence on both companies that I know what you’re both looking for," Hensley said. "This community (greater Milwaukee) is so small that it really thrives on quality referrals and introductions. I think it gives us a leg up. You’ve got to get passionate on how to help your clients become more successful."
Hensley said he hasn’t been able to accurately measure the success of his model at Citizens Bank because he has not worked there for one year yet.
Hensley has worked in the southeastern Wisconsin market since 1975.
Dean Casper, senior vice president and senior banker in southeastern Wisconsin for Citizens Bank, also joined the bank in November. Both Hensley and Johnson previously served at Johnson Bank.
"It doesn’t matter what our past experiences are or what the name on the bank says," Hensley said. "The only thing that matters is meeting our client’s challenges and needs out there. It comes down to, are we willing to be passionate on our clients’ needs and are we willing to find ways to do it?"

Small Business Times, December 16, 2005, Milwaukee, WI

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