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Why choose a community bank?

It seems that there is a bank on every street corner in Gwinnett County; deciding which bank to choose can be overwhelming. Some customers choose a bank with convenient locations. Others choose based on recommendations from friends or family members. Still others select a bank based on introductory offers made to new customers.

 The staff at United Community Bank in Snellville. (L-R) Chris Lee, Kathleen Knight, Tami Rhine, Amber Bowman, Rae Merck, Nathan Umberg and Snellville Branch Manager Ginger Kilman (Center).

Ginger Kilman, Branch Manager and Vice President of United Community Bank in Snellville, has been in the banking industry since the early 1980s. She has seen many changes over the years, as some banks merged and others went out of business. “Most banks offer the same services, so choosing a bank based on what they offer their customers really makes no difference anymore,” said Kilman. “What makes us different here at United Community Bank is the personal service we offer our customers.”

For instance, said Kilman, in the event a customer falls prey to check or identity fraud, there is something reassuring about talking to someone you know – and who knows you – at your bank. That personal connection is much more comforting than placing a phone call to a 1-800 number and hoping your problem gets handled.

“We have several families banking with us, in which we’ve served the grandparents, the parents and now, their children, the millennials. All three generations prefer to do business in different ways. Our senior customers prefer to pick up the phone and make a call to our branch, no matter what they need. Millennials, on the other hand, prefer to handle most everything by email,” Kilman said.

Too, different generations of customers have different banking needs. More senior customers are likely investing and managing funds. United Community Bank’s “middle” generation might be interested in home loans or equity lines of credit for remodeling their homes. And the younger generation is often just get-ting started, establishing credit, per-haps buying a first home, and starting their families.

“We know our customers, and they know us. There are customers who walk in here and, if they don’t see me at my desk, they ask where I am – even if they don’t need to talk to me that day,” said Chris Lee, Customer Service agent at United Community Bank. Lee also has decades of experience in the banking industry.

“We offer the best of both worlds here. With branches in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, we could be considered a large bank. But we have managed to maintain that small-town bank feel. That’s what distinguishes us from other banks, both large and small,” Lee added. “At United Community Bank, you’re a name, not a number.”

Kilman stated that maintaining that policy of personal service extends to all the staff at United Community Bank. “Our tellers know everyone by name, too. In fact, they probably know more customers personally than I do, but that makes sense. The tellers are typically who customers walk in to see.”

Another advantage of doing business with a community bank is the staff’s goal of making every process as simple for the customer as possible. For example, when a client applies for a loan, Kilman simply requests that they gather all the information required. She does the rest.

Perhaps the best advantage a community bank offers its customers is the attention to detail that only comes with knowing customers well. “If we see a check come through that is for an unusual amount or one that seems out of the ordinary for one of our clients, we will usually call them to verify that they did, indeed, write that check or authorize that payment. It’s a great way to head off trouble before it begins,” said Kilman.

Lee recalls working for larger banks over the course of his career. “I remember working for one very large bank, and as employees, we were tasked with one thing – opening new accounts.” That focus was very common among big banks and as a result, personal service fell by the wayside. As a result, many banks “automated” themselves out of jobs, as so much business was transacted without ever talking with a human being.

“One of the things I love about working at United Community Bank is the longevity of the staff and the loyalty of our customers,” Lee said. He believes that both are a direct result of the bank’s commitment to personal customer service.

It’s no surprise that United Community Bank has been recognized for the highest customer satisfaction score in the Southeast by J.D. Power for the past four years. Most banks offer pretty much the same services across the board, but the difference with a community bank is that personal touch, the ability to make many decisions at the local level.

Both Kilman and Lee want to let people know that, if they’re considering changing banks, the end of the calendar year is a great time to do it. “It’s a fresh start for the new year,” said Lee. Also, and of utmost importance, Santa will make an appearance at the Snellville branch of United Community Bank from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm on December 22. Bank patrons and those in the community who want to put in a word with the big guy are invited to do so.

United Community Bank has been located at 2168 Scenic Highway in Snellville for 14 years. To contact a banking representative, call 770-985-2337.