* Alan R. Tubbs President Maquoketa (Iowa) State Bank Immediate past president American Bankers Association, Washington
People's perception of the industry begins with their own bank. ABA research has shown that people have a better perception of the industry overall if they are well served by their own bank.
Banks have generally been strong supporters of the markets they serve, but they can do a better job of communicating the contributions they make to their community in terms of loans for new business and community development, leadership of community organizations, and monetary contributions.
Banks should bend over backward to meet customer needs, provide personal service - and above all, communicate.
Bankers must be more conscious of serving all segments of their communities, including low- to moderate-income groups and minority groups. If banks don't get the message across, we will face efforts on the part of government to mandate those services.
* Barbara K. Massa Senior vice president, corporate communications and investor relations First Union Corp., Charlotte, N.C.
I do not think we can improve the public's perception of the health of their banks until we focus our attention and our resources at the "point of sale."
The "sale" - in this case, the education of customers regarding the relative health of the banking industry - is made one-on-one, at a personal level, by people who know how to respond to a customer's concerns.
We need to do a better job of educating the front lines of the banking industry - from the customer service representatives who open new accounts to the loan officers who establish new relationships. We need to equip our sales force with solid financial information about their bank and give them the tools they need to share that information with customers in a language that is easy to understand.
We're competing with the bank down the street to offer the best personal service in town. We need to apply that same personal touch to help our customers learn to trust their bank again.
* Charles M. Cawley Chairman MBNA American Bank, Newark, Del.
We have to renew our commitment to the customer. We all need to make customer satisfaction an every-minute-of-every-day obsession. We have to talk to our customers, ask questions about their needs, and listen - really listen - to their answers.
Our customers have friends and neighbors. They tell them about their service experiences, both good and bad.
Those experiences define the public's perception of a bank and our industry.
As managers, our task is to create the right environment for the most important people in our organizations: the people who deal directly with the customer. If we do this properly, they will, in turn, see to it that the customer is satisfied.
* Eileen S. Kraus President Connecticut National Bank, Hartford
There are a number of things that banks can be doing to build public confidence in the banking system.
First and perhaps foremost, we need to push for better communication among our nation's banking leaders, government leaders, regulators, industry experts, and the larger community.
Communicating collectively, we need to let people know that the large majority of the nation's banks have addressed their recent difficulties professionally, calmly, and with keen attention to what's good for the banking industry, our customers, and the nation.