Ridgewood Savings Bank, located at 71-02 Forest Ave., recently remodeled and expanded its call center, giving customers greater access to its community bank.
In 2007, Ridgewood Savings Bank opened its unofficial contact center, but in 2016, the bank fully dedicated staff to answering customer calls. There are currently five customer service representatives working in the call center, with 12 other employees focused on digital channels in the new space.
First Vice President and Director of Digital Channels Mirsada Tagani said that the launch of the bank’s enhanced call center will triple its customer service capabilities.
“Our goal here is by the second ring to answer the phone,” Tagani said. “Ninety-five percent of our calls are answered by the second ring.”
The call center includes bilingual customer service representatives, all from the Ridgewood community. Representatives speak Italian, Serbian, Spanish, Romanian and many other languages. Languages that the local call center does not cover are transferred within the network of branches throughout the city.
Leonard Stekol, president and CEO at Ridgewood Savings Bank, said that the call center is imperative to the bank’s success and service to its customers.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to be able to keep in touch and serve the customers,” Stekol said. “We don’t have any stockholders, so this is our existence — customers, communities and employees. Every day our thinking is ‘how can we enhance our service,’ and one of the biggest things was the customer call center.”
The call center averages about 12,000 calls per month. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“Community banking means everything to us, and that’s what we’re here for,” Stekol said. “We’re one of the few banks where we’re still in the building where it all started. Being in the community and serving our customers — this is what we live for, whether it’s giving back through product services, charity or programs.”
The employees at Ridgewood Savings Bank don’t take the responsibility of community banking lightly. Each desk at the Ridgewood location is filled by someone who cares about the local area and those who reside there.
The bank has donated over $29 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans for local businesses, helping to protect almost 5,000 jobs last year. They also sponsor local events, as well as teach financial literacy all over the city.
Decorations in the newly renovated call center are personalized to the history of Ridgewood Savings Bank, of which there is 100 years’ worth. In one corner sits three generations of telephones — a nod to the bank’s most useful tool for customer service throughout the past century.
The bank was founded in 1921 and serves as the largest savings bank in New York state, with $6 billion in assets. Ridgewood has 35 branches across New York City as well as Yonkers, Westchester and Long Island.
Annemarie DeTommaso, the digital channels manager for Ridgewood Savings Bank, said that the customers absolutely love the new contact center.
“They like the fact that we are patient and that we listen to them and take the time to help them out, plus we’re all a part of the community, too,” DeTommaso said. “The customers get to know you. I have customers that call back and will ask for me, which is really nice.”