The American Banker regularly treats us to thoughtful articles espousing how a consumer’s trip to the bank should be as warm and fuzzy as a visit to the local mom and pop diner, grocer or florist. For example, the local retailer greets you with a smile, knows your kids’ names, what you like, how much help you want, etc. Wonk wonk wonk wonk wonk.
I have always been the cynics’ cynic, and I used to find these articles at least a little naïve. However, I recently underwent A Big Personal Change, and I now navigate life’s rich labyrinth with the zeal of the newly converted. The new me is a deeply introspective, open-minded person.
And so I have begun to notice the countless examples of how the real world truly does outshine the banking industry in terms of knowing the customer, identifying needs and just plain delivering. Let me provide a few examples of times when I thought, “Wow, if only my bank were more like this!”:
I live in a high crime area, so when I make my Friday night visits to Turk’s Guns & Ammo, for my own safety I skulk under cover of darkness through the concealed side entrance. I am hardly past the metal detector when Turk greets me by my code name and knowingly produces his latest shipment of Gold Dot Hollow Points for my 9mm semi-auto. Now this is what I call personal service. Turk always stocks the hollow points for my Friday visits, there’s no waiting in line, no cumbersome ID check, and no song and dance about mandatory cooling-off periods. Turk is a slave to the details, and to me, that spells L-O-Y-A-L-T-Y.
Gearing up for a quiet weekend at home with the missus, I stop by Honest Al’s Liquor, Lotto & Smokes for some liquid refreshment and a carton o’ Luckies. The security door’s welcome buzzer has scarcely announced my arrival when Al lovingly places his infant child back into the Budweiser crate, high fives me with a resounding “H-Mon!” and plucks a twelver of Schaeffer tall boys from the freezer. Yes, the FREEZER, because Al has learned that my blushing bride only enjoys her favorite malted brew when it’s partially frozen – adult Slurpee-style. As an extra treat, sometimes Al even throws in a bag of venison jerky for my baby daughter. Just like with Turk, it’s all in the details. Early in our relationship Al cared enough to ask the right questions, the probing questions that differentiate me from the unwashed masses. Just try to learn that in a Cohen Brown workshop.
Every payday, either lurking behind our dumpster or hiding breathlessly under the ’73 Gremlin with a Mopar cam that I keep on blocks in the front yard, Johnny Three Toes – my neighborhood Sports Wagering Consultant – is waiting to serve me. He knows to automatically place the $500 bet if the spread on the Longhorns game is less than 8 points. And then there’s No-Neck Richie, our Freelance Lending Officer, who has someone from his direct marketing team phone me immediately if the Longhorns lose by more than 8. These entrepreneurs are masters of timing, planning and customer profiling. They don’t have to ask me anymore – they just know.
I consider myself blessed to be surrounded by such conscientious professionals. Professionals who could teach banks a thing or two about customer relationship management. -smh
“Don’t believe the florist when he tells you that the roses are free.”