Call Center Spotlight: First Citizens Bank Branch Central
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Call Center Spotlight: First Citizens Bank Branch Central

Each year, ICMI recognizes individual agents who have been nominated by their teams for embodying the "Spirit of Service" in the call center. These individuals are not only committed to providing quality customer service, but are also product-knowledgeable, focus on the customer, treat all customers with respect and so much more. This year, we are spotlighting an entire team of representatives who make an effort to bring this spirit to their call center on a daily basis.

When the nominations for our annual Spirit of Service "Agent of the Year" awards opened earlier this year, First Citizens Bank Branch Manager, Tara Mistretta, was among the first to respond. But Tara's request stood out from the others we received: She wanted to know if we had an award for an entire call center staff. Though I reluctantly informed her that we currently did not, her inquiry was enough to inspire us to find out more about this extraordinary team. When I spoke with Tara, her genuine enthusiasm and appreciation for her staff was clear. "The Branch Central team takes such pride in what they do," she stated. "I am so privileged and honored to be able to work with these amazing ladies every single day."

Set Up For Success

Branch Central was formed in May of 2004 to test a new concept of internal support for First Citizens Bank branch associates. The pilot team included staff members from the external Customer Contact Center, the internal IT Help Desk and two Area Operations Managers and offered real-time support to branch associates who required assistance with questions and issues regarding Bank operations, policies and procedures.


3rd back row, left to right, Mr. Ed Willingham (President, First Citizens Bank), Josephine (Branch Central Generalist), Mr. Frank Holding Jr. (Chairman of the Board and CEO, First Citizens Bank). 2nd row, left to right, Darlene (Branch Central Generalist), Linda (Branch Central Generalist), Latoya (Branch Central Generalist), Kathy (Branch Central Generalist), Desiree (Branch Central Generalist), Tonya (Branch Central Generalist). 1st row, left to right, Crystal (Branch Central Generalist), Mary, (Branch Central Generalist), Sandra (Branch Central Generalist), Tara (Branch Central Manager)

3rd row, left to right: Mr. Ed Willingham (President, First Citizens Bank), Josephine (Branch Central Generalist), Mr. Frank Holding Jr. (Chairman of the Board and CEO, First Citizens Bank). 2nd row, left to right: Darlene (Branch Central Generalist), Linda (Branch Central Generalist), Latoya (Branch Central Generalist), Kathy (Branch Central Generalist), Desiree (Branch Central Generalist), Tonya (Branch Central Generalist). 1st row, left to right: Crystal (Branch Central Generalist), Mary, (Branch Central Generalist), Sandra (Branch Central Generalist), Tara (Branch Central Manager)

Tara reported that the Branch Central pilot received an overwhelming vote of confidence from internal customers. Bank associates were very satisfied with the responsiveness, accuracy, professionalism, knowledge and sense of ownership demonstrated by the team on each call that they handled. As a result of their success, the pilot team became a permanent part of First Citizens Bank's Customer Contact Center team, and for more than seven years they have been the first point of contact for help with Bank policies and procedures, system support, computer problems, branch facilities, security concerns and product knowledge. Branch Central strives to excel as team and consistently exceed both industry standards and Bank associates' expectations by continually resolving issues on the very first call!

Branch Central in Action: The Call Center and Beyond

The ultimate goal of Branch Central is to help Bank associates help customers as quickly and effectively as possible. The department consists of one manager and 10 Branch Central Generalists. This dynamic 11-person team shares 151 years of combined experience with First Citizens Bank and 197 years of overall banking experience.

Per month, the Branch Central handles approximately 14,000 calls and over 400 emails, in addition to providing support to associates in 440 branches in 17 states, including seven acquisitions for First Citizens Bank and some of its affiliates. The team also works to help empower their associates by showing them where to find the solution to a problem rather than just simply providing them with an answer. By taking the extra step to teach as well as assist, Branch Central is helping bolster their associates' confidence, knowledge of Bank products, services and policies, which opens up many cross-sales opportunities and strengthens associate relationships with their customers.

Within First Citizens Bank, the team has taken the initiative to partner with other internal departments to identify opportunities to drive Bank-wide process improvements and uncover education gaps to help enhance our learning process. The team also provides vital reports to management that assist with profit management, budgeting as well as the creation/implementation of new policy and procedures.

First Citizens Bank Branch Central at a Glance

LOCATION: Raleigh, N.C.
HOURS OF OPERATION: Monday through Thursday 8:30 a.m. - 8:30 p.m., Friday 8:30 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. and Saturday 8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time)
NUMBER OF AGENTS: 10
SERVICES PROVIDED: Provides real-time support to branch associates who required assistance with questions and issues regarding Bank operations, policies and procedures.
CHANNELS HANDLED: Phone, email
NUMBER OF CONTACTS HANDLED: Approximately 14,000 calls and over 400 emails monthly. Also supports associates in 440 branches in 17 states, including seven acquisitions for First Citizens Bank and some of its affiliates.
NOTABLE: For 7 years, the team has been the first point of contact for bank associates when they need help with policies/procedures, system support, computer problems, branch facilities, security concerns and product knowledge – often on the first call!

Their efforts and dedication are certainly recognized! Branch Central's reputation has made them celebrities within the First Citizens Bank, and associates make it a point to come by and meet the team in person whenever they are in town.

Tara shared a quote from a Bank associate who is continually impressed by the service that the team provides. The associate said, "As a former employee of another large bank, the service provided at First Citizens Bank is far superior. The scope is wider and the associates are far more knowledgeable, providing a much higher level of efficiency and expertise. At the other institution, we were often transferred to multiple departments to answer questions about different topics. Here it is one phone call that gets a majority of issues resolved. With Branch Central, I rarely have to wait for an extended period of time for assistance. At the other bank, I remember being on hold for 20 minutes or more, only to be transferred."

The call center isn’t the only place where the Branch Central team members excel. They are also passionate about making a difference in the local communities they serve and call home. Some of the extracurricular activities they are involved in include: Visiting area rest homes and homeless shelters to help with meals and moral support, Board of Director for the local Fire Department, members of American Red Cross, United Way, United Arts and much more.

The hard work, dedication and most importantly, their ability to do it all with a smile is what makes the Branch Central team truly standout as examples of the Spirit of Service.



Topics: Site Operations, Customer Experience, People Management, Culture & Morale

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Linda Riggs — 9:52AM on Sep 29, 2011

What a great group! Congratulations to all of them!

Christina D'Airo — 1:11PM on Oct 3, 2011

They really are a great team! I was very glad to work with them on this article.

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