Impersonal banking

April 10, 2013 at 4:43 am | Posted in Business | Leave a comment
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Mmm buzz click.

Mmmm. Buzz click …

Bank bashing is easy, unproductive and old hat. Therefore, let me say this: if I lent hundreds of thousands of dollars to a virtual stranger so he could buy a home, run a business and do up his kitchen, I’d certainly expect to hold the whip hand.

Though it concerns banking, this post is about promises.

Many years ago, I left one big bank to protest bad service. The new big bank was better. When I got my line of credit, I was told I had a Personal Banker.

To prove it, I was sent a card with the name and contact details of a live human being.

I was highly sceptical. But once I started dealing with Sally*, my faith was renewed.

Sally answered my calls, replied to my emails, explained things clearly and strove to make good things happen fast.

As I wrote in her Christmas card [!] ‘You have single-handedly restored my faith in banks.’

When Sally was promoted to a bigger branch, I had my accounts transferred to be near her. Through the trials of recession and renovation, she was there: calming, helping, advising.

Then she got headhunted by a smaller bank.

Devastated, I tracked her down to see if I could switch banks. Alas, she’d also changed division and role.

That night, the concrete path to Empire House inexplicably cracked^.

My bank assigned me to a new Personal Banker, who promptly broke several limbs playing football and never regained focus.

My next Personal Banker moved overseas before we could meet.

My next Personal Banker changed branches, but wasn’t worth following.

My next Personal Banker was literally impossible to contact. I had to appeal his poor performance via online banking.

His replacement (my next Personal Banker) spoke to me twice before handballing me to her assistant for ‘personal reasons’.

In one of these exchanges, she advised that my request for a lower interest rate had been turned down by ‘the bank’.

I managed to get her email address, as I wished to posit that for my purposes, she was ‘the bank’. She hasn’t replied.

Finally, I asked her underling if it’d help to transfer my accounts to head office, just in case it was ‘the bank’.

He said no.

How I wish my bank had never put the idea of ‘personal banking’ into my head.

Because of this promise, I now suffer the sting of betrayal.

Would that I could regain the mistrust which once cocooned me from constant disappointment.

Come to think of it,

I’m almost there.


* Not her real name.

^ Not really; the neighbour’s tree fell on it during pruning.

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

The Punter’s Ton

February 3, 2013 at 7:20 am | Posted in Business | 2 Comments
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A VERY successful sale.

The most enjoyable retail experience I ever had was buying firewood years ago. I’m still amazed at how the attendant transformed a bog-ordinary transaction into a fun adventure.

As browbeaten accountants will wearily confirm, no field is boring if it’s your passion. And passion for your business is a sure-fire path to success.

I drove up in my hatchback and ordered 100 kg of wood. Tim* asked if I wanted a pre-weighed stack or … the Punter’s Ton. Of course I inquired what the Punter’s Ton was.

Leaning towards me, eyes darting to the office, Tim told me in a lowered voice.

The yard tractor had a front bucket. After years of dealing firewood, Tim knew exactly what volume comprised 100 kg. While management insisted that he stack blocks on a set of scales then re-stack them for sale, Tim knew he could thrust the bucket into the main pile, tip out a few blocks, drive to a customer’s vehicle and transfer the wood directly.

In so doing, he saved time and effort, gave the customer a strong sense of his expertise, and had fun (while thumbing his nose at authority, in the great Australian tradition).

And by adding that his margin of error could (or could not) mean a few free blocks, he sealed the deal.

Entranced, I asked for a Punter’s Ton.

Tim displayed his enthusiasm and mastery while relating the tale of how he briefly startled one young lady by feigning intent to dump a Punter’s Ton on the back seat of her new, BMW convertible.

In five minutes flat, he made me feel like a colleague, a connoisseur, a co-conspirator and a risk taker – all at the same time.

And all for $32.95.

This enchanting episode reminded me of FISH! – a phenomenally popular book about a workplace management system with four concepts:

  1. Play.
  2. Make their (the customer’s) day.
  3. Be present.
  4. Choose your attitude.

I don’t know if Tim had read FISH! or was consciously applying its concepts. Clearly his masters were not fans.

I do know, however, that Tim combined these elements for a memorable experience that had me coming back until the day he left and all I could buy were sterile, statistically sound, stacks.

If Tim owned that yard, I’d never stop telling people to go there.

And if Tim could achieve that effect with mere red gum,

imagine the magic you could add to your business!


PS. I wasn’t the only one who liked this story. Seth Godin liked it so much, he put it in Purple Cow!

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

* When I asked permission to write about him, ‘Tim’ requested anonymity, as management did not like his methods. At all.

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