BB&T Corporation, headquartered in Winston-Salem, North
Carolina, is a fast growing, highly profitable financial holding
company with $132.6 billion in assets. Its bank subsidiaries
operate approximately 1,500 financial centers in the Carolinas,
Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Georgia, Maryland, Tennessee,
Florida, Alabama, Indiana, and Washington, D.C.
The company has many accolades to its credit: It is consistently
recognized by Fortune as one of America's "Most Admired Companies";
ranked highest in customer service satisfaction among primary
mortgage servicing companies, according to a 2007 nationwide study
by J.D. Power and Associates; and was a 2007 ASTD BEST Award
BB&T is a mission-driven organization with a clearly defined
set of values. It encourages employees to have a strong sense of
purpose, a high level of self-esteem, and the capacity to think
clearly and logically. The company believes that its competitive
advantage is largely in the minds of its employees, as represented
by their capacity to turn rational ideas into action toward the
accomplishment of its mission.
BB&T has built much of its success around its strong community
bank strategy. "Our vision is to be the bank of choice for
multicultural customers looking for financial opportunities in the
communities we serve," says Jorge G. Mller, vice president and
multicultural markets manager.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Hispanics are now the largest
minority group in the country, making up 13.3 percent of the
population. Experts estimate that their buying power will top $1
trillion by the year 2015. To help welcome the Hispanic community
and demonstrate their loyalty to Hispanic clients, BB&T in 2002
launched a corporate-wide effort that included a series of
community outreach and employee education efforts.
To better serve the customers within these markets, BB&T has
worked to understand the relationships and needs among three market
subsegments: Hispanics who speak English exclusively, bilingual
Hispanics, and Hispanics who speak Spanish exclusively. "To develop
our multicultural market strategy, BB&T first assesses all
facets of delivering a positive customer experience. We look for
the right staff and support them with the appropriate tools,
information, and training, and continue to develop the necessary
channels for their support," says Mller.
Tu Conexion - Your Connection
Because it is difficult to hire an all-bilingual staff, BB&T
created Tu Conexin, a self-study training program that teaches its
non-Spanish speaking employees key Spanish phrases and the basics
of communication with Hispanic clients so that they have a better
understanding of that market.
Employees who interact with Spanish-speaking clients receive a kit
that includes a Spanish Quick Reference Guide, which details
phonetics, words, and phrases commonly used by people in this
market. The kit also contains a DVD that depicts common banking
transactions, as well as a CD soundtrack. To aid employee practice
with pronunciation, a Quick Reference Guide Audio Companion and
participant workbook are also included.
Upon completion of the program, employees call into a phone-based
testing service that evaluates their language proficiency. Across
the organization, more than 1,500 kits have been used by employees.
Another key initiative is the development and distribution of BiBi
tapes. Distributed to BB&T branches beginning in 2002, the BiBi
tapes are a series of Spanish-language audiotapes that provide
basic banking information, as well as other important information
about living in the United States. Unlike traditional American
educational audiotapes, where narrators generally offer information
in a tutorial teacher-to-student style, the BiBi tapes follow the
"TV Novelas-style" storytelling approach popular on Spanish
The soap opera-style series traces the experiences of Juan and
Maria Perez, fictional immigrants who have recently come to the
United States. One person they meet is a Mexican woman named
Beatriz "BiBi" Bienvenido Torres. BiBi portrays a respected member
of the Hispanic community, a long-time U.S. resident, and BB&T
employee. There are currently nine tapes, covering such topics as
emergency preparedness; home and auto safety tips; renting and
buying a home; healthcare; education; insurance; working in the
United States; tips on finding a job and starting a small business;
and basic banking information. The tapes are distributed to the
Hispanic community free of charge through the AP newswire and
throughout the corporation.
The BiBi tapes are designed to bridge the learning gap many
Hispanics say exists when it comes to life in America. "We are
pleased that the BiBi series is keeping pace with situations that
are critically important to our Spanish-speaking residents as they
embrace American culture," says Axel Lluch, director of Hispanic
and Latino Affairs for the North Carolina governor's office.
BB&T is the first and only bank known to provide free
informational tapes designed to increase new Hispanic immigrants'
understanding of the nuances of living in the United States.
The latest educational offering is an audio CD series, which
simulates a radio call-in talk show. The first episode focuses on
income taxes in the United States - why we pay taxes, how to pay,
and how to find help and resources in this area. The second is
about credit and lending - credit basics, how to establish and
maintain good credit, and how to make informed decisions about
borrowing money. This series is also distributed through local