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Wilkins woman leads PNC’s multicultural marketing efforts

When Carrie Ann Quintana was hired at PNC as a financial services consultant in 1997, she discovered a gaping hole in its customer service.

The bank was doing little to serve non-English speaking customers.

Quintana, 39, of Wilkins set out to change that. In 2002, she led the development of a Spanish language toll-free telephone line and urged managers about the importance to serve Spanish speakers, who were becoming an important base of customers for PNC as it expanded along the East Coast.

Quintana is now vice president and multicultural marketing manager at PNC. She recently spoke with the Trib about her efforts to better serve Spanish-speaking PNC customers. Below is an edited transcript.

Trib: When you were hired in 1997, how were the Spanish speaking services at PNC?

Quintana: I think it was pretty minimal at the time. We were expanding our footprint and that’s when we realized there’s a lot more diversity on the East Coast and a lot more need for the Spanish language. I started in the team for customer service and realized that we have customers that we need to service better.

Trib: So what kinds of things were you doing and what alerted you to the need for the service?

Quintana: It was right when we started in training, we were taking calls, practice calls where you sit with a mentor and help that customer. Folks knew that I spoke Spanish, that were on my team and other teams, so they would come to me and ask me to help explain something to a customer. I also found out there was another Spanish speaker that worked a different shift than I worked. We decided to make a team together to help answer these calls and call customers back. And I got with her and decided, “Hey, let’s do something. Let’s build a business case so that we can have our own toll-free number and the customers will come directly to a team.”

Trib: So how did you approach your managers? How did you build that case?

Quintana: If you think about 1997, ’98, ’99, we’re leading up to the 2000 Census. And there was a lot of buzz about Hispanic marketing and Spanish customer service. Really when the 2000 Census came out, I think that’s when folks realized the number of Hispanics that were in the country. And it just became a very interesting topic in the business world to talk about. I remember regularly giving my manager articles that I had found, passing it up to executive management and really making the case that we needed to do this.

Trib: Pittsburgh isn’t a city with a large Hispanic population. Did you have any challenges in convincing some of the managers here in the city that this was needed?

Quintana: I think that our managers are well-enough-traveled, they went out to the East Coast, they saw the new branches. They’ve gone out and seen, when we move into a new area, whether it’s Chicago or Florida or the Carolinas, when we’re expanding they go out and sort of see those areas first hand on the ground and meet those employees themselves. So I feel like I’ve been very supported.

Trib: How did things change when PNC bought the Royal Bank of Canada branches down in the South, where the Hispanic population is much larger?

Quintana: I don’t think things really changed, per se, but just an expanded view of the segments that we’re serving to know what their needs are, make sure that we have bilingual folks in the branches to help serve those customers, really want to make sure that our branch employees reflect the communities that they serve.

Trib: There are all sorts of ways to serve bilingual customers. Having bilingual staff is just one of them. What do you think are the really important services to offer people who speak Spanish or other languages?

Quintana: I think that the people are really the most important thing and it’s important to me also, that the people on the front lines just as I once was, have the tools that they need to have conversations with their customers. Making sure that they have all the tools that they need, whether it’s written materials or be able to demonstrate something on how to log in to online banking or financial education materials.

Trib: What types of things would you like to do next?

Quintana: I’m excited. There’s still work to be done. As you may or may not know, Hispanic is just one segment that I manage in the multicultural marketing team. We also create strategies and ways to outreach to African-American community, the Asian community, LGBT and also the Polish community in Chicago, mostly. There’s always work to be done.

Chris Fleisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7854 or [email protected].


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