Every year around the Fourth of July, Mary Navarro picks one of Huntington Bancshare's 600 branches and goes to work as a teller for the day. She deliberately chooses the holiday weekend to experience higher traffic volumes. "I usually run the drive-in because that's what I like to do best. But I'm not the speediest," she says.
Though unconventional work for a top executive, Navarro says it's essential to understanding the issues tellers face. "I started as a teller, and I've worked in branches a lot, so I know what it's like to be on the hot seat and not feel like you have the right answer, or even have an answer," she says.
One thing Navarro discovered during a branch visit is that the tellers didn't seem to have a good explanation for the company's overdraft policy. "The right answer was to take out some of the fees that were hard for our colleagues to explain," she says.
Those recent changes are first part of a far-reaching new corporate initiative called Fair Value Banking. Overdrafts of less than $5 no longer incur a penalty. Customers are no longer chargedadditional fees in the first five days of being overdrawn, and the maximum amount of overdrafts allowed in one day has been halved from eightto four.
Other fee reductions related to overdraft will cost Huntington anestimated $23 million in income a year, but Navarro is betting that this customer-friendly approach will attract new depositors, ultimately offsetting the loss.