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Measuring a Lifelong Banking Relationship

October 24, 2018
Dena Roten, Head of US Retail Branch Channel, Citi Global Consumer Bank

How do you measure a lifelong banking relationship? For Dr. Chrys Chryssanthou, who last week visited our Citibank branch in Fort Lee, NJ, one way is with 960 deposit slips and 10,335 cancelled checks.

"Citibank – a bank for a lifetime," Dr. Chryssanthou said upon his arrival, holding up two leather attaché cases containing six decades worth of bank slips. "Because 60 years is a lifetime."

This brings new meaning to our slogan, "Stay Gold."

Dr. Chryssanthou visited us a day after his 93rd birthday – and when I heard he was coming, I quickly rearranged my schedule to make sure I could be there to meet him. We'd spoken on the phone earlier this year and the satisfaction with Citibank that he'd described to me was among the deepest I've heard as the head of Citibank's US Retail Banking channel.

Among his bank documents, Dr. Chryssanthou pulled out a savings account ledger documenting his first savings deposit - $800 in October 1958, at the "Stuyvesant Office of The First National City Bank of New York" at 262 1st Avenue at 15th Street in Manhattan. (It's still a Citibank branch, complete with blue Citi Bikes out front.)

Originally from Thessaloniki, Greece, Dr. Chryssanthou began his relationship with Citibank when he was a medical resident across the street from our branch at Mount Sinai Hospital, where he later became a professor of pathology, publishing dozens of academic papers. In later years, he also wrote three books, including a poetry anthology and recollections from his youth during the Nazi occupation of Greece.

Dr. Chryssanthou shared with us some advice about longevity, which he outlines in his 2016 book How to Keep Young. Among his tips: maintain a youthful outlook on life, continue to set goals as you age, and exercise every day. "People don't fail to exercise because they are getting older; they are getting older because they fail to exercise," he told us.

Accompanied by his wife of 48 years, Gabriele, he also reflected on ways to maintaining healthy relationships, which he noted rely on honest communication and the ability to recognize one another's strengths. His sage words led me to think about how, as a bank, we keenly focus on behaviors and practices that can help us earn the level of trust and satisfaction that we have achieved with Dr. Chryssanthou. So I asked him what, specifically, led him to bank with Citi for all these years.

"What I value most in my banking relationship is the courtesy and genuine interest of the bankers at Citibank," he replied. "It's the warm feeling that I get: that I belong."

While dropping off the old deposit slips and cancelled checks for us to shred as he cleared up some storage space at home, Dr. Chryssanthou told us that his banking relationship has evolved from analog to digital. While he regularly checks in with his Citigold Relationship Manager Paul Hwang at the Ft. Lee branch, he and his wife bank online and use the Citi Mobile app to keep tabs on their finances.

As luck would have it, Dr. Chryssanthou's visit coincided with a meeting of area Citibank branch managers at the Fort Lee branch. While we constantly underscore the importance of customer satisfaction in our training and meetings, it was great to see the way that Dr. Chryssanthou's life lessons - and sincere pleasure at having banked with us for 60 years - sparked so many smiles across the room and provided us with a genuine reminder of why we constantly strive to be the best for our customers.

Dr. Chrys Chryssanthou presents Citibank memorabilia to his Citigold personal banker.

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