Hello readers, Let us continue the publication of extracts of my second book  “MY FRONT DESK EXPERIENCE – A YOUNG BANKER’S STORY, (published in 2016) which covers a three-day story of a young front desk officer in a busy branch. Even though some of the functions have been replaced by technology, it is good to know how it all started before mobile apps, e-statements and virtual banking became a norm.

The  story continues……. It is 12.00pm on a Friday and a month end.  A young lady front desk executive has gone through half the day managing several transactions and assisting different kinds of customers. Each customer comes on board with his or her own needs, desires, wants, and characteristics. Her job expects her to do a lot of multi-tasking attending to various situations. It is important to always remember to wear the vision, mission and theme of the bank, irrespective of how she feels at that point in time. Moreover, she has to be courteous, empathetic, humble, have integrity, be polite, resilient, always wear a smile, be smart, efficient and effective on the desk.  It can be fun at times but also challenging.

She is left helpless as she listens to the raised voice on the telephone, while she attends to a customer waiting to collect her cheque book which has delayed at Head office. An intruding customer is distracting her to get his transaction through at the same time. She has a splitting head ache and is confused as the voice on the telephone starts shouting…… She finds herself in the middle of a maze, and being inexperienced, she is confused. She is however practicing some of the training she is acquiring on the job to give her best “mix” during multi tasking. It has its own risks and stresses but at the end, with guidance and encouragement from her supervisors, she will finish the day in a good mood.  

Yes, the lady in red needs some re-assurance. I called head Office and was assured that the cheque books have been received that morning and was on its way to my branch by the dispatch rider. The external printers had a machine breakdown causing the delay. I assured my lady that immediately it arrives, I will give her a call, I quickly check up her telephone in the system before she leaves. Yes it is the same number as what she has just given to me.  

Sometimes within a matter of five minutes, everyone wants attention from me. Some of them cannot afford to wait for their turn. “What at all do they want from me?” I ask myself. Multi tasking is an art that I need to master. It is not easy at all. I am on edge most of the time since I don’t want to make any costly mistakes….Yes I remember what to do. I take a deep breath. I have to deal with things one-step-at-a-time. Not only does multi-tasking require me to prioritize but it also means having the ability to handle things as they come along.  I must not make more out of the situation than there really is.


“Ring…Ring….Ring….. “ Alhaji Shehu Osman is on the line to check if the cash collection team has deposited the cash they collected during the morning, and his account credited. He is illiterate so he cannot be given Internet banking and SMS alert to confirm his daily cash picks. He is also risk averse and does not trust the Bank to put his transactions on those mobile phones for any of his wives or sons to see.  He has gone through life the hard way, and is a strict disciplinarian. He does not want his children to come too close to his finances. He wants them to learn the hard way and not parasite on his wealth when he is still alive. He is another interesting and pleasant customer. After realizing his desires, the branch manager has tasked the Relationship Officer to conduct a daily reconciliation of his cash collection with him. Problem solved. But why is Alhaji calling us again? After sorting him out, I have a suspicion that he is seeking confirmation of his balance from me, even though he has received the same information from his Relationship Manager. You see, banking depends on trust between the customer and banker, but these days the trust issue is becoming a different issue altogether.

Next come Davi Dede II, a queenmother of a town in the Volta Region. She walks majestically into the banking hall. She needs to see the Branch Manager. She is very motherly and a proud traditionalist. We respect the way she combines modernity with her traditions. She is the typical black beauty, and we always admire the African beads on her ankles. But my, oh, my, but she is another talkative. She can sit in front of our Manager for hours, oblivious of the nature of work on her desk. Sometimes I can see Manager trying her best to smile along despite the long lectures and liturgy of issues in her Paramountcy that she enjoys sharing with her. She is very rich and sells imported wax prints.

Young ladies are a natural attraction to male customers. Who wouldn’t like to be served by a fresh faced young lady with a pleasant smile to melt all your problems?  It is also not surprising that lady customers also like being served by the gentlemen. It is an interesting finding among “homo sapiens”. They say it is something called “sexual selection” or the slogan we all knew in secondary school: “Like poles repel, and unlike poles attract”. Sometimes we get quite unsettled when the male customers start flattering us about our hair, dress, looks, and everything that touches the soft spot of ladies. There have been numerous occasions when I have to acknowledge the flattery with a polite smile but nicely tell a customer to excuse me for a few minutes to perform a transaction, to avoid making mistakes. It is our duty to smile and say thank you and sometimes tolerate everybody. It will surprise you to know that some of them enter the banking hall to ease some of their built up tensions in their daily work and lives. As for the young guys, some of them become the lady customers’ heart throb. Which young lady doesn’t like being served by a handsome smartly dressed man, with nicely cropped hair and a cute smile? It is even “cooler” if he doesn’t have a wedding band on his finger. It can make a lady start day dreaming about walking together with him to say “I do” at the altar. Some male front desk staff sometimes find themselves being lured into relationships with some ladies, and woe betide them if that lady charmer happens to be another man’s wife or girl friend! Sometimes I overhear some of the gentlemen in the branch talk about their narrow escapes.  

There comes one of my favourite customers, Mr. Asempa, the Accountant of a hire purchase company. He presents a letter from his employers to collect the company’s statement for the last four months.  He is a middle-aged man, with a very strong personality. He approaches staff in the banking hall with so much ease and is actually fun to be with. Mr. Asempa usually comes to the bank after four o’clock when most of the “heat” has reduced, and the staff may even have had a quick lunch to appease their nagging stomachs.  I ask him to give us some time to process the request.   Oh, I just remembered…. The owner of the hire purchase company recently reported that the previous Marketing Officer had used her company’s statement of account for visa racketeering.  Apparently, this Marketing Officer was intercepting the statements from the Post Office for several months and sending these to desperate young men to send to the Foreign Embassies for visas abroad. Since then, we have been cautioned to ensure that requests sent through third parties are authenticated and scrutinized to ensure everything about the request is genuine.

Although Mr. Asempa is a nice and affable gentleman, I do a quick authentication of the letter and send it to the back office for processing.

It is four o’clock and there are only a few customers left in the banking hall. I take a short break and walk around to chat briefly with some of my other colleagues who are less busy. Crack a few jokes…tease each other a bit… End of day is approaching.

Let me pause here.



Alberta Quarcoopome is a Fellow of the Institute of Bankers, and CEO of ALKAN Business Consult Ltd. She is the Author of Three books: “The 21st Century Bank Teller: A Strategic Partner” and “My Front Desk Experience: A Young Banker’s Story” and “The Modern Branch Manager’s Companion”. She uses her experience and practical case studies, training young bankers in operational risk management, sales, customer service, banking operations and fraud.  


Website www.alkanbiz.com

Email:alberta@alkanbiz.com  or [email protected]

Tel: +233-0244333051/+233-0244611343

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