Maintaining personal connections in a changing business environment
Here, Medlin describes his effort, in a time of evolving banking technologies, to sustain the personal relationships on which he believed Wachovia had built its success.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with John Medlin, May 24, 1999. Interview I-0076. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Full Text of the Excerpt
There's one other element that I think I would
say in the early part of the '70s that banks still had not, were not
very open. There was reasonable competition. There was still a feeling I
think that you went in and sort of sat down in the lobby in the bank.
You were the subject, and the banker was the king still. We began, we
had been improving our technology as we went along, all through the '60s
and early '70s. It was apparent that there were going to be lots of ways
for people to do business with you that would involve less contact with
you. I had been and many of our people had been concerned about not
losing the personal contact with customers. We had always been a
relationship bank and we still are be it an individual or a corporation.
It was something you built on several fronts over time, mutual trust. So
we to try to strengthen the personal relationships with the customers,
we introduced what we called a personal banker program. That was
something of a, it doesn't sound radical or revolutionary, but in truth
was. We assigned all of our customers who wanted one a personal banker.
We said, 'Their name is on your statement. If you have problems, here's
their telephone number. Call them up. They're going to be calling up to
tell you about some new things we have from time to time.' It was, it
got a lot of publicity. It took the technology to make it possible was
developed. Previously you would have to go to this place to find out the
checking account balance, and somewhere else to get the savings balance
and somewhere else for the loan balance, and somewhere else for the
trust relationship. We developed an information system that pulled all
of that together, retail accounts information system
we called it. So the personal banker could punch the buttons and up
would come on the screen the full relationship. And this would make it
possible to assess, 'Well, you don't have a saving s account with us.'
We could call up and say, 'Hey how about a savings account or a credit
card' or whatever. It had marketing as well as relationship building
elements to it. This was I think something of a stimulant in banking
during those times to other banks to compete on that basis. It has been
more fully developed now. I think it's pretty generic. They don't call
them all personal bankers, some private bankers and those kinds of