She was pleasant, smiling, knowledgeable and about to let her company's brand die....
I was standing in the lobby of my bank (when was the last time you were actually in a bank lobby?) and she was my teller. I was asking for a little consideration. I felt compelled to give her a bit of personal history with my request, "I've banked here for 18 years. In spite of six buyouts and name changes I have stayed. So, can you please arrange to have ALL of today's deposit available immediately rather than your standard 24-hour clearance policy?"
The "brand-killer" replied, "I'm sorry, but I can't. The computer system is designed to allow only $200 to be immediately available until the rest of your deposit clears .... - no matter who you are."
So, that was that. I sensed this bank's brand was dying and was sure it would be dead before I got back to my car -- there was nothing that could save it.
Then something remarkable happened: A co-worker, overhearing the conversation, interrupted with a "defibrillator" to shock the bank's brand back from certain death. "You can cash this gentleman's check, then make a cash deposit -- all the funds will be available right away."
Suddenly "the patient" had a steady pulse and was stabilized. I decided not to move my business elsewhere.
Financial services in general, and banks in particular, drive me crazy. I've had several as clients and have yet to find one brave enough or creative enough to do what it takes to be brand owners. When asked how they are different from their competitors, a bank's standard answer is, "It's our people!" Gee– I've never heard that one before. But I digress.
Who will save your brand? It will be someone who:
- Knows the brand well enough to identify when its dying in the eyes of your customers
- Knows that it's OK to creatively solve problems in a moment of need
- Knows rules are occasionally acceptable to break when it's in the interest of saving the brand
- Knows that work is more fun if you do what's right for the people you serve
- Knows how to own the brand for themselves
When your brand goes "code blue" you can't wait for the CEO to authorize the next big advertising campaign - you need "first responders" to save your brand.
I advise my clients to hire, develop, and coach their "first responders." Remember, the brand you save may be your own.
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