Heather Brown began her career with Citizens Bank as a part-time teller and quickly realized how much she enjoyed interacting with customers. Heather is now the Customer Care Supervisor, ensuring customers enjoy the best possible interaction when reaching out to our call center. We sat down with this self-proclaimed "customer service geek" to learn more about her favorite parts of the job, best customer service words of wisdom, and the secret to cooking delicious morel mushrooms.
How did you end up in banking?
I started as a part-time teller at Citizens Bank when I was 19. I had a new baby and just wanted a job, so I found a place that I could work a few days a week. Eventually, I went into a full-time teller position. From there, I transitioned into the behind-the-scenes part of the Bank, working in the operations department. I have loved working both on the front line and behind the scenes, it gave me a chance to fully understand what I was doing and why I was doing it. What I missed the most when I moved to the operations department was customer interaction. When I landed in my customer care role at the Bank, I knew it would be the perfect place for me to have all of the aspects of my job that I love in one place.
You must be evaluating customer service everywhere you go! What are you seeing?
I am seriously a customer service geek. It's also my biggest pet peeve in any business I go into. I see that people rush too much. I notice businesses getting people in and out without focusing one-on-one with that person. This is why I stress the individual focus on a customer to my team.
What else do you emphasize?
I don't see customers face to face. I'm the voice in the call center. Because of this, I tell my team to be present with the caller on the phone, and not to worry about the other calls buzzing in or the people on hold. Each person you are speaking with is your only focus.
How does your team handle the pressure or any goals you shoot for, not missing calls?
We do have a goal we shoot for in terms of not missing calls. Sometimes you can feel the tension when calls are missed, and I just remind them: one call at a time. Better to really take care of one person than rush through and try to cram in everyone. Ultimately we return every single phone call by the end of business that day. If that means staying after work, we stay after work.
That's how I want to be treated. My husband makes fun of me when we go places... but I treat everybody the way I want to be treated. Even in the drive-thru, it's "yes ma'am, no ma'am, no thank you." I know what it's like to not be treated that way, so I offer the best treatment to everyone.
What is one of your favorite customer service stories?
A woman called us and had a rough time getting into our online banking. I walked her through, troubleshooting all the issues and stayed on the line for at least 25 minutes. We were finally able to get her in, and she was so, so happy! About three days later, I got a call to come up to the front desk. There was a bouquet of flowers left there from her for me. I'd never even met or spoken to her before that call.
What's your favorite line or words of wisdom?
Besides treating everyone the way I want to be treated, it's "just keep swimming." When things get tough and seem never-ending in the call center, that's what we say.
Is it a tough job?
It can be. The first voice any customer hears when they call the Bank comes from the call center. We are here to support them through good and bad. We do everything we can to make them feel understood. We always help them with what we can or get them to the right people, we’re ensuring that we solve anything that a customer brings our way.
Outside of work, where's your happy place?
At home, or on the back of a motorcycle with my husband. We live on 7 acres with a pond and a creek. We have three dogs and are outside a lot, playing basketball, biking, always mowing to be done. Ooh! Also, we love mushroom hunting. We find morels on our property, so now I can't tell you where I live, because it's a guarded secret!
What's your best morel dish?
We just fry them up. Just soak them in salt water, then dredge in egg white, flour salt, and pepper in a pan full of butter. That's heaven.
How are you active in the community?
In 2020, Citizens sponsored a day at a Habitat for Humanity build, so I joined in. My job was to put up siding and flashing. I had never done anything like that before.
I'm also part of the Morgan County Leadership Academy. The group encourages you to be a better leader, to give service to and learn about your community, and to connect and network with other members of the community.
What's something important to you about your job that most people don't know?
The one thing I love the most about my job would be talking to people who don’t tend to have a lot of money, I mean, I think we all know what it feels like not to be rich. You never want people to feel like they are unworthy because of how much money is in their bank account, so I absolutely love interacting with those people -- building them up and making sure they feel like they are just as important as the person who has $100,000 in their account. We've all lived it, we're normal human beings too. I want to say, "I've been in your shoes, I'm here to help."