Header: (right) Cheryl Feltman and (left) Jeanie Smestad with her grandchildren.
From the moment the man entered the bank, it was clear something was wrong. He paced a few moments before sitting in the waiting area, where he took an envelope from his pocket and began tapping it against his leg.
“Can I help you?” Cheryl Feltman asked, with a smile.
The man looked concerned.
“I need to speak with Jeanie,” he said. “I need to get this taken care of. Today.”
He held up the envelope. He explained that it was car insurance and that he needed to get his car insured that day. It was very urgent.
Meanwhile, 30 miles away, Jeanie Smestad was in “Grandma mode” enjoying her day off at home with her grandkids. She knew the customer and what he needed. Cheryl knew none of this, nor did she have any idea how to handle car insurance. But her smile remained.
“Here, why don’t you grab a cup of coffee and come to my office,” she said. “I’ll help you out.”
“I had no idea how to sign someone up for car insurance.”
Cheryl’s primary role at Choice is “Culture Development Specialist and Event & Education Coordinator”, a title she laughs at because it’s so long. Her work usually involves event-planning and scheduling internal education for the Choice Financial team, so she doesn’t usually get the opportunity to work with customers. To have a customer in her office is pretty rare, she said. Not to mention working on car insurance paperwork.
“I had no idea how to sign someone up for car insurance,” Cheryl said later, with a laugh. So while the customer grabbed a cup of coffee (and a Choice Financial specialty cookie, of course,) she gave Jeanie a quick call.
Thankfully, even in Grandma mode Jeanie always keeps her computer open and her phone on, just in case she is needed.
“Hi Jeanie,” Cheryl said and explained the situation. “Would you be able to walk us through the paperwork over the phone?”
“Of course,” Jeanie said one eye on her grandkids and one on the computer.
Cheryl scanned the paperwork over to Jeanie. Then, together via conference call, they walked through the details of the insurance, where the customer needed to sign, and next steps to getting his insurance card. Once the signatures were made and scanned, all that was left was to put the insurance card in the mail. He was good to go. And even then, he still stayed and finished his coffee, talking happily with Cheryl.
“He started off concerned and anxious,” Cheryl said. “But by the end, he was so happy, it seemed he was going to sit forever and chat!”
Julie Demester, a coworker of Jeanie and Cheryl in Grafton, noticed the unusual sight of a customer in Cheryl’s office. When she heard the story of what happened, she smiled but was not surprised.
“I could see she was doing things out of the scope of what she usually does,” Julie said. “She’s always willing to offer her help and assistance, and do the right thing.”
“She’s always willing to offer her help and assistance, and do the right thing.”
Cheryl points the praise back to Jeanie, and the culture of Choice Financial that encourages treating customers with the utmost care and respect. The People First mentality is reflected in each individual who works there, she said, especially in moments like Jeanie’s, where on her day off she is still willing to help a customer in need.
“When I called Jeanie, her immediate response was, ‘What can I do? Together, we can take care of this.’” Cheryl said. “She takes care of her customers like they’re family members. She goes above and beyond.”
Know when to offer help and know when to ask for help and commit to your customers with undivided attention are two Choice core values that Jeanie, Cheryl, and the whole Choice team try to exemplify; and in this story, the result could clearly be seen on the customer’s face.
“I wanted him to smile when he walked out the door,” Cheryl said when she first saw him anxiously tapping his envelope and frowning.
As he left, coffee in hand and insurance card on the way, the customer waved goodbye with a smile from ear to ear.