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Do Greeters Have The Most Important Job at the Bank?

Greeting People at the Branch

While greeters were once seen only at large retailers, such as Wal-Mart, now stores of all sizes are using them as a way to offer a personalized shopping experience. And the same is true for banks.

But that smiling face at the door of your local branch is doing more than just directing you to the right counter or helping facilitate a transaction. That person is also adding an extra layer of security.

One of the most effect ways for banks to reduce the number of robberies is to employ greeters. Stationing someone at the door to look visitors in the eye, take note of details, and ask them to remove hats or hoods has shown to reduce theft.

Before 2009, on average there were 11 bank robberies for every 100 branches in the U.S. since 1979, Forbes reported. By 2009, that number dropped to six per 100. Many in the industry credit the rise in greeters as a deterrent for theft.

“The last thing a bank robber wants is to be noticed,” W. Douglas Johnson, head of security policy analysis at the American Bankers Association, told Forbes.

Security experts say that just having greeters isn't enough. They need to be trained to spot suspicious behavior. One simple tool the greeter holds is asking people to remove identity-obscuring clothing such as hats, scarves and gloves, Cambridge Security Advisors said.

Potential robbers may also find it hard to check out a branch or loiter if greeters are present. Some may simply walk away if someone says hello.

Using greeters as part of security began to catch on in 2006 after Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Lawrence Carr included the idea in a program called SafeCatch, Forbes reported.  Carr's program trained tellers and other employees to pay attention to the branch environment and take responsibility for security, according to a 2009 interview with Carr.

While the idea was radical at the time, now many banks include security as part of job training. Branches are now working with local law enforcement officials to help train employees to spot suspicious behavior and know how to respond.

So, the next time you walk through the door and are greeted with a smile, remember that person is also helping secure the bank branch and deter theft.