Bank telling today Featured

7:00pm EDT December 31, 2006

Even though more transactions are taking place at ATMs, on line and over the phone, the banking industry is increasing its number of branches to provide convenient neighborhood access. Area banks want to serve their customers face to face, and that means a high demand for bank tellers (or “customer service representatives,” as they are called by many banks).

Customers appreciate receiving services from bank employees who know them and are familiar with bank products and services. In addition, face-to-face service gives the customer

  • The freedom to ask questions about their accounts and receive appropriate feedback



  • The ability to learn about innovative bank products and services that can help meet their long-term financial goals



  • An opportunity to build relationships with bank personnel, who will look out for their needs.


With so much emphasis on face-to-face communication, the need for competent bank employees is extremely important.

Robert Paponetti, vice president of Tri-C’s Workforce and Economic Development Division, and his staff met with local banks and discussed their needs. In response, Cuyahoga Community College has developed the 21st Century Teller program.

Smart Business asked U.S. Bank president Kurt Treu to shine a light on the reasons behind the need for bricks-and-mortar bank branches and the people that staff them.

What drives the business decision to keep bank branches in operation as more and more customers use the Internet for their banking?

Simply put: customer demand. Customers still want the convenience of the corner branch. They still want to talk to someone about their money.

Actually, there are more bank branches today than there were 10 years ago. Today you find bank branches in grocery stores, on college campuses and inside corporate offices. Banks are constantly looking to touch customers where they work, live and go to school.

What is the turnover rate for bank teller employees?

Our bank has about 25 percent turnover each month, including promotions, transfers as well as attrition. That means we need to hire 100 new tellers each month.

How do banks continue to identify and develop qualified employees to work a bank tellers?

The most important skill we look for is customer service experience. We want to employ people who take care of customers and make them feel welcome. Of course, prospective employees need to have cash-handling experience as well, but it really all comes down to personality. Banks need to hire people who like people. We can train people for all the other basic skills.

How did you get the idea to help create the bank teller certificate program at Tri-C?

I’m on the board of directors for Tri-C and I had helped develop a similar program at Minnesota Technical College when I worked for U.S. Bank in Minnesota. It turned out successfully there, so we helped start a program here. I had a feeling it would work at Tri-C.

College staff members conducted research with numerous banks to find out exactly what type of knowledge, skills and abilities employees should possess. The program fit right in with Tri-C’s mission to identify gaps between the work force and the jobs available.

Describe an optimal curriculum for a bank teller certificate program.

It should not only prepare students for positions with area financial institutions but also provide a foundation for career advancement in the banking industry.

In developing course sequence, subject matter and length, it should depend on financial institutions to continue to provide some training for their new tellers, especially in matters proprietary to individual institutions. Students completing the program should be required to describe the basic functions of the banking industry, understand teller responsibilities and perform daily transactions in addition to knowing the features and benefits of banking products and services. Classes should be taught by instructors who have experience as head bank tellers or branch managers.

KURT TREU is president of U.S. Bank. For more information about the 21st Century Teller program at Tri-C, contact Jean Appleby at (216) 987-3244 or