Hilda Plante switches back and forth with ease between English and Spanish as she speaks, creating a comfortable bridge between the diverse customers and employees at Citizens Union Bank.
“Being bi-lingual helps in so many ways,” Plante says. “As soon as customers walk in the door we say ‘Hi’ and ‘Ola’ and they feel safe. We have so many Hispanic customers who have been banking with us for a long, long time.”
Plante, who has worked as a bi-lingual employee at CUB for 12 years, started her relationship with the bank as a customer.
“I like to take care of customers because I know what it’s like on the other side,” says Plante. “I started as a customer at CUB two years before I began working here.”
Plante, 51, says the Hispanic population is growing quickly in both Kentucky and nationwide, and CUB’s long-time commitment to Spanish-speaking customers has created a very loyal customer base.
“They learn about us through word of mouth,” says Plante, who works in CUB’s Shelbyville office. “They open accounts for their children. Trust is the number one thing.”
Plante says that when she sees her Hispanic customers out in the community, they think of CUB as more than just their bank.
“We help our customers even outside the bank,” Plante says. “If one of our customers has trouble with their car, I say call me tomorrow at the bank and we will help you. That’s why they bring their friends to CUB, and those friends bring more friends. We help our customers like they are family.”
From Cuba to Kentucky
Yusleidi “Judy” Estudillo came to America from Cuba when she was 9 years old. Her father was a political refuge after being told by President Fidel Castro to leave the island country. The expulsion was in response to 20 years of letters written by her father protesting citizen’s oppression.
“I love my Kentucky home,” says Estudillo, who has worked as a bi-lingual teller and interpreter at CUB in Shelbyville since April. Estudillo says that she is able to offer CUB’s Spanish-speaking customers the comfort of banking in their native tongue.
“I give that little extra confidence,” Estudillo says. “I understand where they are coming from. We start talking about their account, and then we are eventually talking about their family and job. They trust me.”
Estudillo arrived in Kentucky on July 6, 2000 when her family was sponsored for relocation by the Episcopal Church. Her father lived to be 80 years old in 2013. Estudillo, mother of 13-year-old Jessica Jasmine, understands how important close-knit family is in Hispanic culture.
CUB’s commitment to hiring bi-lingual staff is just one more example of how CUB is focused on diversity and the customer experience, providing enhanced services that make life pleasant and comfortable.
“I’ve never worked at a place that is so focused on teamwork,” Estudillo says. “We’re really, really close here with each other and with our customers.”
Remembering Birthdays and Babies
Patricia Valle-Noble, a customer service representative at CUB for 10 years, uses her Spanish-speaking skills to celebrate the diversity of her customers.
“I love my job,” Valle-Noble says. “It’s very friendly, like family. We treat our customers with respect and call them by name. We remember when it’s their birthday and when they have a baby.”
Valle-Noble says that big banks say customer service is important, but their actions tell a different story.
“Bigger banks should try to be more friendly,” she says. “Not like a robot. Sometimes the older Hispanic customers don’t speak a word of English. They feel more comfortable speaking in their native language. These customers have 100 percent of our attention when they are here to do a transaction.”
“So many Hispanic people are so loyal that if they have transportation, they will come here,” Valle-Noble says of her branch. “Even if they have to drive 45 minutes, they will come find your branch. Spanish-speaking customers are very loyal when they are treated well.”
CUB is currently hiring for a bi-lingual teller position and a bi-lingual Customer Care Center Representative.
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