Both internal and external factors are undermining banks' efforts to improve customer service, but management can fight back.

The nation's healthy economy has driven down the unemployment rate. The downside for banks, especially for filling entry-level service jobs, is a decline in the quality of applicants. To ratchet up the quality of applicants and workers, an employer must offer higher salaries and more attractive benefits. Most banks do not pay their tellers and customer service representatives well enough.

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