Customer Service: The Mariner Way

by Chris Plude 17. October 2011

1st Mariner Red Carpet Customer ServiceEverywhere you turn someone somewhere is talking about a customer service experience they’ve had.  Too often the conversation is about poor customer service and how horrible the individual felt after the experience.  Excellent customer service is not something taught over night, it comes from a team of individuals working together to come up with new and exciting ways to encourage and motivate the staff of an organization. Being one of the only local banks left in Baltimore, great customer service is crucial to the continued success of 1st Mariner Bank.  Our main focus is on providing outstanding customer service which we have dubbed “Providing Red Carpet Service the 1st Mariner Way”.  All 1st Mariner employees are required to attend “Red Carpet” training and are given assignments throughout the year to keep the material fresh in mind.

"Mariner Minute to Win It!"

The 1st Mariner Bank Training and Employee Development department works at finding unique and entertaining ways to keep employees informed, motivated and energized for work every day. As the old adage says “if Momma’s not happy (our employees), nobody is happy (our customers)” and this is true in the business world too.  This year the Training and Employee Development division celebrated Customer Service Week to say thanks to our branches and contact center staff for the invaluable job they do every day.  The first week in October, National Customer Service Week, is summed up with the tagline “Refresh, Recharge, Reconnect.”  Each day during this week a representative from each 1st Mariner branch played various games, which encouraged teamwork as well as taught customer service lessons.  Some of the games were customer service bingo, a scavenger hunt, and ring toss.  In addition to these daily games, there was a “Customer Service Street Crew” who visited each branch to play “Mariner Minute to Win It,” our version of the popular TV game show.   Throughout the week the branches were revitalized and really enjoyed coming to work, not only to play, but also to share this experience with our customers.

As the results of our recent Online Customer Survey demonstrate, 1st Mariner's customer service is the number one thing that sets us a part from other financial institutions. Having a team of leaders who share the overall goals in providing excellent service and care to our customers is the first step in achieving outstanding customer service.   As a whole, the staff at 1st Mariner Bank will continue to constantly work to be the best local bank and the best in customer service; after all, we built this bank for you.

Check out some of the photos and videos that were taken of our Mariners as they competed in the "Mariner Minute to Win It" challenge.  Additional videos and photos can be found on our Facebook and YouTube pages.

Mentoring Baltimore's rising entrepreneurs one student a time.

by Kevin Lynch 6. October 2011

NFTE & 1st Mariner BankWith the start of the school year, the folks over at the  Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) start their engines as well. NFTE's mission" is to provide programs that inspire young people from low-income communities to stay in school,  recognize business opportunities and to plan for successful futures." I, along with several other colleagues at the bank, have been involved in the program at various Baltimore City schools for the last four years. As Baltimore's community bank,  we work with the teachers as they incorporate the NFTE curriculum into their lesson plans. We go into the classroom on a weekly basis and work with these young entrepreneurs to help them identify business ideas, develop their business plan, and get their businesses started.

These rising young entrepreneurs in waiting then compete in local business plan competitions, first in their classroom and then against other students in a city-wide competition. At these events, they present their business plans to panels of judges for cash prizes. For those who win their local competition, there are even opportunities to compete with other young entrepreneurs from around the country. A couple of the young entrepreneurs we worked with at Patterson High School were even featured in a movie, "Ten9Eight" about a national business plan competition in New York. We've stayed in touch with one of these students who is now a sophomore pursuing a business degree at the University of Baltimore.

NFTE is a terrific organization that can really make a difference in our community. Teaching our young people financial literacy and business insight  is extremely important to the Baltimore Community and we at 1st Mariner Bank are proud to be involved in such a meaningful organization.  If you are looking for an opportunity to work with the youth in the city, there are plenty of ways to get involved. Visit the NFTE-Baltimore website to find out more.

How to Prevent Check Fraud Scams

by Elizabeth Sherman 3. October 2011

1st Mariner Check Fraud PreventionPositive Pay is, quite frankly, one of the best ways to prevent check fraud scams on a business checking account. Basically, a business owner writes checks and if there are any discrepancies between the checks written and the checks clearing the account, the business owner has the option to either pay or return the items. No check will clear the account without going through this process and thus limits the possibility of check fraud scams.

Most business owners understand and appreciate the security of Positive Pay, but feel the process can be too labor-intensive with entering or downloading the check information to their bank.  With one of our customers, the objection wasn’t so much about entering the information but more with having to implement the Positive Pay product on all three of their business entities. A recent incident, however, changed their opinion when Positive Pay prevented almost $2,000 in check fraud losses.

Over one weekend, several individuals came into a few 1st Mariner Bank branches, attempting to cash checks written on one of the entity accounts, and because of Positive Pay, the checks were flagged as “exceptions” (possible fraudulent checks). The basic information (date, serial number or amount) didn’t match the information provided by the business owner. This, in turn, prompted additional inquiries from our tellers. Unable to verify the checks with the business owner, the tellers refused to cash the items and, in one instance, alerted the police when one individual was unable to provide the appropriate ID, resulting in an arrest.

With advances in technology forcing business owners to be even more vigilant with their account information, Positive Pay’s check fraud prevention process provides an additional level of security in protecting the cash business owners fight so hard to earn.

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