Bank One branch will set the tone for others

TRAVERSE CITY – Discovering a lemonade stand when you come up to the drive-through on a hot summer day. Having a teller escort you to your car with an umbrella when it's pouring down rain. A branch that feels more like a retail center with exceptional customer service, ala Nordstrom's…

Bank One wants to let the public know that what they offer their customers is not their father's bank anymore. And for a time, no where will that be more evident than at the new Cherryland Branch on South Airport and Garfield, opening Oct. 3.

Don Antcliff, District Manager for Retail of Bank One, and Michael Bares, Cherryland Branch Manager, are the braintrust behind what they say is going to be the first of its kind in the country. Because the state-of-the-art banking retail center will be unlike anything else the company has ever built, they say it will be watched closely by other banks in the region and across the nation.

As Antcliff, Bares, and the staff at Cherryland talk about the upcoming opening and what they'll provide, their enthusiasm, make that passion, is evident.

"Over the last couple of years, our northern district here has been very successful, leading the country for overall growth, especially on the retail side," explained Antcliff, a former business owner who's been with Bank One for the past nine years. "We see a booming market in the way we bring retail to our consumers, and our company recognizes that, as well, and has invested in doing this in northern Michigan."

Bares says one of the most striking features of Cherryland will be its open floor plan, which will be much more conducive to conducting business personally and efficiently. Greeters will open doors and welcome patrons. Teller windows have been eliminated in favor of teller islands that offer 360-degree customer contact.

Commercial and retail customers will be served in different areas to facilitate quick service, and conference rooms are available for longer or more personal transactions and consultations. A Customer Comfort Zone will host those who need to wait a few minutes for a meeting, and can pass the time with beverages and other amenities.

The retail atmosphere is not limited to just building features or aesthetics, Antcliff and Bares stress. Financial advisors, loan officers, and small business representatives will all be on hand for immediate assistance.

The focus, they say, will be fiercely dedicated to assisting customers.

"We want our customers to feel that they can't wait until payday to come back in, because we're not order takers, but trusted advisors who will help them make more and save more in an atmosphere of total convenience," Antcliff said.

"All our branches have that mentality," adds Bares, "but this particular branch will really set the tone because of the presentation and the fact that we're launching the next level of customer service."

Doors officially open Oct. 3, and a grand opening gala for the public is slated for Oct. 15. Many surprises and attractions are being planned. All local businesses are being used for the event. BN