Customer service and personalized attention are the hallmarks of Astra Bank’s steadfast quality over the years. We scout great talent to bring the best people on board our team, so they in turn can offer the best service to customers. We really do care about our people and our customers. The bank has a great vision and directors/managers are setting the stage for success and willing to pay for talent.
We asked Richard Campbell, Astra Bank Chairman, what kind of customer appreciation efforts the bank has in place to help thank people for selecting Astra as their bank of choice? He gave us one example of the bank’s “Free Gift” program, which provides new account holders something useful (and fun) as a thank you for opening an account with the bank. The bank has given away personal Proctor Silex grills, Coleman first aid kits, coolers, camp chairs, bakeware, sleeping bags and even gave away digital cameras. Additionally, with the bank having expanded to different locations and now having many branches, getting everyone together is difficult and cannot be done too frequently. However, each branch organizes team events and activities locally with staff to keep the “fire burning” for the bank.
Unlike the bigger, national banks that try to offer the same brand feel and experience across all branches (regardless of location), the goal for a community bank like Astra is a little bit different. Our vision and guiding principles are commonly emulated by staff in every location; and yet, we try hard to maintain the feel of each “individual location”. That’s what offers our customers the friendly, “community bank” bank feeling that is so unique—it’s the Astra Way and we aim to communicate this effectively in everything we do.
Does employment with a community bank hold your interest? A great work-life balance and the opportunity to serve customers in your local community is available to you at Astra Bank. Be sure to check our home page for a We’re hiring! link and maybe you’ll be the newest addition to our team.
Change is inevitable, change is good, change fuels innovation. But if there was “one thing you would never want to change at Astra Bank, no matter how many technological and industry-specific changes take place, what would it be?”
That was one of the questions we asked Richard Campbell, our Chairman in our recent chat with him. His answer was, “The personal service that we give to our customers and the community. That will never change at Astra Bank. Typewriters, ledgers, computers and smart phones can all change and become faster, better, smaller perhaps; but the commitment to customer service that our staff display will be a constant. It is the reason we are here for so many decades and if we were to change that, it could be the reason to fold up business. So that is not going to happen.”
Recruiting the right people for frontline staff is critical since this is where the customers have the most interaction. The Tellers at Astra Bank are known for superb service and all of us here are very proud of what they do. Customers love how caring, kind and gentle they are, always aiming to help meet their needs.
In a world where the customer has so many choices, people make the difference. We really think we have the best employees for the markets we serve. We have the best Loan Officers, the best Tellers and all employees at the various levels do what they can to take care of the customer. They all are at the top of their game, which gives the bank the ability to offer the best service to our customers. In many cases customers walk in the door and everyone in the branch knows their name. Then no matter how many different choices they may have, these customers want to come back to us because we know them, we understand them and we make it our priority to continuously improve the way we meet their needs.
Mr. Campbell says, “We know the speed and efficiency that technology brings, so we are making every effort to ensure that Astra Bank offers the same level of technology as other big brands. We want to be able to offer our customers the best of both worlds—new technologies, same great service!”
Do you have any suggestions on how we at Astra Bank can enhance our banking technology and service to better serve your needs? Please tell us by making a comment below or Contact Us today.
Community banking at Astra Bank takes on a far deeper meaning beyond just serving the local community with banking products and services. We take our motto of “deep roots, deeper commitment” very seriously. It would be wonderful if we could centralize our community outreach efforts and manage everything in one place, but we recognize that this is neither feasible nor advantageous to the communities we serve. And that is why we place the onus of community involvement on our different branches and their staff. Location managers are empowered to scout suitable opportunities within their local community where the branch and its staff team can reach out, lend a hand and make a difference.
Our community service programs and initiatives run the whole gamut from helping to maintain local ball fields and parks, to charity golf tournaments, fundraising barbecues, food and clothing donation drives, helping out at retirement homes, and so on. Our branches also make sure that when doing business they support the local hospital bond issues and other economic efforts to help make things happen the way they should. We offer our help and support with general obligation bonds and also work closely with local governments and municipal corporations to help fund community initiatives.
We asked Richard Campbell, Astra Bank Chairman to comment on the bank’s community involvement and he said, “When you have been around as a rock solid institution for over a 100 years, you can’t help being deeply entrenched into the communities you serve. We consider ourselves an integral part of the community so making a difference and being a driver of positive change is what we take pride in doing every day, in many small and big ways.”
Has an Astra Bank community program or outreach initiative made a difference to your life? We would love to hear your story! Please feel free to share it on our blog and post a comment below.
Richard Campbell, our Chairman was talking to us about the significant changes he has witnessed in his tenure with the bank since the early 70’s. He strongly believes that the best thing that happened to the banking industry and to Astra Bank of course, is the technology that came along, and it only seems to be getting more advanced every day. Technology really has “leveled the playing field” and made life a whole lot more pleasant for the bank and its customers. It has allowed the little banks to take advantage of the changing environment and get caught up with the big banks.
Speaking about the regulatory environment, Richard told us how regulation was less stringent in the past and in recent years this has become much more burdensome. Many of today’s regulations didn’t even exist “back in the day”. He agrees that we need to have regulations, but feels that at times some of the new rules that are in effect make it difficult to really take care of the customers. One of the regulations, for instance, used to limit how much a bank could pay on a Certificate of Deposit (CD) or eliminate paying interest on Demand Deposit Accounts (DDA). Astra Bank was able to work within the regulation and yet keep customers happy (and pay customers interest) with Negotiable Order of Withdrawal (NOW) or checking accounts. Even the ways in which interest was calculated has changed over the years, which could have been disadvantageous to customers prior to the changes. The good news is that at Astra Bank, we have always made sure that customers come first.
Our products and services have evolved to keep pace with the changing environment. For example, the bank offers a “trade-a-rate” a program that allows the customer to not only get a better rate but also extends the term. While other banks also offered this when Astra Bank first started this innovative product, we were one of the only banks to spend time explaining “how” this type of product could really benefit customers. Richard remembers that the highest rate ever paid out was 15.65% on a 6-month CD! While rates likely won’t see those levels ever again, the bank prides itself on continuing to offer competitive rates for customers.
We have also tried to do away with service charges in as many areas as possible. The bank works harder to keep costs low, provide an attractive rate and use that model to make money. The loans are really where the bank makes money, so by not charging service fees on the deposit side, we can bring in the money to fund loans and ensure that rates are attractive for all types of loans—cars, houses, farms, businesses, etc.
If you want to know about the various products and services available to you through Astra Bank, please stop by one of our locations or call us during business hours at (800) 269-5009.
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- Excerpts from a Chat with Richard Campbell, Chairman, Astra Bank
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