ChoiceOne Bank continues to offer employees Spanish classes to enhance service to Spanish speaking customers in West Michigan.
ChoiceOne Bank is a community bank in West Michigan – now in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids and in the heart of the agricultural and farming communities. The Bank serves hundreds of locally owned farms that employ seasonal help from Central and South America, resulting in an influx of unbanked and Spanish speaking consumers. With a new full-service office in downtown Grand Rapids at 330 Market Avenue SW, the communities in West Michigan have many Spanish speaking permanent residents who often struggle to get professional service in Spanish.
“Our employees at ChoiceOne Bank exemplify what it means to be a community bank,” said President and CEO Kelly Potes. “These employees volunteer their personal time in the evenings because they want to help our customers. I am truly grateful for our hard-working bankers.”
Classes are taught by Founder and Owner of MI Spanish Connections Maria Krawczyk.
There are over 20 employees in the classes, who have made a 10-week commitment to meet weekly from 6 pm to 7:30 pm. Employees represent the Bank from many areas including mortgage, branch offices, marketing and courier services. Classes consist of learning conversational Spanish using financial terms and numbers practicing banking transactions with fake currency and banking tickets.
ChoiceOne Bank Assistant Branch Manager Becky Kwekel, from the Alpine branch, is the champion behind the entire course and played a key role in its success this year. “While there were so many things this class taught us as a bank, I know I personally learned the importance of meeting our customers where they’re at during their banking experience,” said ChoiceOne Bank Student and Marketing Assistant Frank Acosta. “This class was so special to me!”
ChoiceOne already has a bi-lingual staff who help Spanish customers with their personal and business finances including checking accounts, mortgages, loans, mobile banking, and any other needs and questions. ChoiceOne also has a Spanish Speaking Customer Service Line, dubbed the “Hola! Linea” at 616.887.2342. This is a direct number that rings bilingual employees and is answered in Spanish. It is available to customers that prefer speaking Spanish and used when a bilingual banker is unavailable.
“As we grow our community bank in West Michigan, we want to make sure we can serve all of our customers with professional and innovative services,” said Potes. “Our mission is to provide superior service, high quality advice and show our utmost respect to everyone we meet. Our vision is to be the best bank in Michigan. We encourage everyone to stop in and put us to the test!”
According to the latest census, Latinos represent 16 percent of Grand Rapids population, which makes them the city’s largest minority group. The Hispanic population is projected to increase in the years to come. The number of Hispanic businesses, such as Latino-owned supermarkets, restaurants, shops and services, is also increasing, thanks in part to the efforts of groups like the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
About MI Spanish Connections
Maria Krawczyk is founder of MI Spanish Connections. As a native speaker from Mexico City, she moved to the United States in 1989. The goal of MI Spanish Connections is to provide a variety of Spanish classes. Classes are offered as a fun professional service with culture immersion opportunities to help individuals and family members in their Spanish language learning journey. For more information see https://mispanishconnections.net.