To Ruth Ann Marshall, satisfying the customers of an electronic banking network is like conducting an orchestra. The right people have to be in the right chairs to produce harmony.
The sound she wants to hear in her new position at Electronic Payment Services Inc. is that of customer satisfaction.
Ms. Marshall, 43, was promoted in November to executive vice president and group executive of the Wilmington, Del., company. She supervises client relations for both the MAC automated teller network and Buypass, its point of sale affiliate. She fills the post vacated by John F. Beahn, an executive vice president now in charge of pursuing new business.
Ms. Marshall, who supervised client relations at Buypass before her promotion, said her priority "is to replicate the customer satisfaction that we have enjoyed within Buypass across the rest of the business."
"That sounds very simple," she said, "but I believe if you take care of the customer, everything else falls into line."
When Ms. Marshall arrived at Buypass in 1994 after 18 years at International Business Machines Corp., "customer satisfaction was hovering around 50%," she said. At the end of 1997 "over 90% of Buypass customers were satisfied."
Ms. Marshall said she "cleaned house," replacing most of her direct subordinates with experts culled from different industries, and reorganized the staff into specialized groups: account support, project management, and product management.
She also hired more people with marketing experience who could reach out to potential customers like gas stations, supermarkets, and independent sales organizations.
Both MAC and Buypass have grown rapidly in transaction volume. MAC is the largest of the regional networks in terms of transactions through its central switch; they exceeded 105 million ATM transactions and 10 million point of sale transactions a month during the third quarter of 1997.
Yet industry ob-servers said the MAC brand has suffered on the customer service side from inattention.
Michael A. Strada, president of Electronic Commerce Strategies Inc. of Atlanta and a former EPS employee, said Ms. Marshall's promotion bodes well for MAC.
"MAC has ignored the customers and the brand in the last couple of years," Mr. Strada said.
"She believes you should be right in front of the customer."
Ms. Marshall spent most of her career at IBM's credit subsidiary in Atlanta, where she held various managerial positions in sales and marketing.
The experience, she said, taught her how to "assemble an 'A' team" that focuses squarely on customer needs.
To monitor satisfaction at Buypass, Ms. Marshall began hiring research firms to conduct quarterly customer surveys.
Meanwhile, she said, she sought to "create an environment where employees want to join and stay with the organization."
Ms. Marshall said focusing on similar fundamentals at MAC will result in "the financials taking care of themselves."
Richard Wilhide, vice president at Wilmington Trust Co., said Ms. Marshall's promotion "gives EPS more of a focus on the important issues."
"The bottom line is she delivers," said Mr. Wilhide, who sits on MAC's 10-member advisory council.
"She understands customers very well-what their expectations are-and is very good at communicating how EPS can meet those expectations."