MoneySunday, a pollster called my house to do a consumer experience survey for my bank. But it wasn’t just the bank, it was my bank … the branch I use. Intrigued at the mention of a recent trip to the actual location and happy to give credit to the friendly folks there, I agreed to participate in their survey.

Most of the questions were on a scale of one to five, with five being most satisfied, likely, etc., how would you rate this or that. I was rattling off a bunch of fives … they honestly do a fine job and I’ve always been happy with them … when I suddenly caught the pollster off guard.

“On a scale of one to five with five being very likely and one being not likely at all, how likely is it that you will tell someone else about your experience with the bank?” he asked.



“Yes, two.”

There was a pause.

“I don’t understand,” he said. “You’re overly satisfied with every aspect of the bank but you’re not very likely to share that with anyone?”

“That’s right.”

“Do you mind if I ask why?” he said, certainly breaking some rule. The incredulity in his voice led me to believe this wasn’t the prescribed follow-up question.

“Because you’re a bank. I take my money there. When I want it back, I go get it. It’s kinda hard to screw that up.”

He said, “But …” and I interrupted.

“You guys are even insured so that if you lose my money, I still get it back. And you know what? Other banks do the exact same thing. If I brag about you to my friends, they’ll say, ‘And?'”

“Yes sir, but you seem so satisfied with us, I just had to ask.”

“Well, you’ve asked me if I’m satisfied with the service, interest rates, locations, cleanliness and so on. I am, and very much so. But I can get all of those things in varying degrees at any bank on the planet. It’s kinda what banks are supposed to do.

“Now if you want me to share my experience,” I continued, “You need to be exceptional.”

“And how might we make the experience exceptional, Mr. Falls?” he asked.

“I don’t know … when I come back for my money, give me my money … and a pizza.”

We chatted for several minutes before he returned to the last questions on his survey. He was interested in my perspective which was simply to illustrate that many corporations have a mistaken impression that if they just do their jobs, people will like them and talk about them. What corporations must do to achieve conversation and the recommendations that result is to do something exceptional.

So, what are you going to do today to make your brand, product or service exceptional? And do you think my next trip to the bank will result in a culinary bonus? Comment and let me know.

Other posts you’ll find interesting:

  1. Whose Content Is It, Anyway?
  2. The Disconnect Between Corporate And Retail
  3. Church Differentiation
  4. Hint At Exceptional Service
  5. Greet The Customers, Even The Jerks … Maybe Especially The Jerks

IMAGE: “Money” by jenn_jenn on Flickr.

[tags]customer service, sharing, corporations, consumer experience, buzz, talk value, conversation[/tags]

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • Nick Huhn

    Excellent feedback, though I doubt the greyhairs and pinstripes would agree with your rationale. When they retire and the whole idea of CRM changes, we’ll definitely get our pizzas. (And I’ll be able to trade in my free Pyrex and lawnchair for a savings bond…)

  • Jason Falls

    Yeah, what happened to the free toaster principle. Banks had the market cornered on execptional experience back in the day. I want my pizza!

  • Billy The Blogging Poet

    I read a lot of business blogs and most of what they write is pure BS but you Sir have hit the nail on the head. I’m a credit union member because my credit union does things banks almost never do like leaving tellers in one location long enough so they can learn who I am. Shoot, the tellers at my credit union know my account number by heart, they know what I wrote on my blog last night and while Greensboro, NC isn’t NYC we do have a population of almost 300,000 people and a million in the county.

    Even the President of my credit union recognizes me and says my name when I run into him on the street. I bet most bank customers haven’t a clue who the President of their bank is but the President of my credit union has an office that’s open to the lobby so he sees every person who walks in.

    I could go on with why I recommend my credit union over any bank I’ve ever dealt with but your point is exactly why I tell people in Greensboro to join the Greensboro Municipal Credit Union and not some bank.

  • Jason Falls

    Billy — Great response and thanks for sharing the info. When companies stand out, they deserve it. If my bank had similar personal touches, I’d sing it from the rooftops, too.

    Thanks for all your comments!

  • Bill Sledzik

    Great story, Jason and it points to a common problem among companies that sell commodity products and services.

    But Billy hit on something, and it amounts to creating a comfort zone for customers. Easier said than done, since it requires motivated staff. The guys who service my car — Flynn’s Tire in Kent, Ohio — know me and my vehicles. I spend a lot of dough at this shop, and I never question a service recommendation. They’ve earned my trust, but most of it comes down to being friendly and being consistent. Tires are tires. Brake pads are brake pads. Like bank accounts, it’s hard to make it sexy, but that isn’t necessary.

    Flynn’s typically has a manager in place for 3-4 years, which tells me it’s an OK place to work. But there’s one more difference. Just like Billy’s credit union, Flynn’s doesn’t have to kowtow to Wall St. analysts of big-money pension funds. It’s family owned and operated. It’s comfortable. My bank can’t make that claim.

  • Jason Falls

    Bill — Thanks for the perspective. Well said. Comfort zone is a good point, but I have a very nice comfort zone with my bank. I really do like them. But they don’t do anything special for me. They’re a big company. They do a good job. They’re nice, clean, have lots of locations, etc. But they don’t do anything outstanding that I can’t get anywhere else.

    Even if they greeted me with “Hey Mr. Falls” (or preferably “Jason”) and asked about my kid, I’d be hard pressed to actively recommend them. They’ve earned my business and respect. To earn my blatant recommendation, they’ve got to go way above and beyond. I can get all that other stuff somewhere else.

    Or, to summarize. I like Pizza. (Heh.)

  • Rich G.

    Great observation. So often simply meeting expectations is followed by a raised eyebrow as if we should rave about it when they do what they’re supposed to do.

    I rarely cheer for my vacuum when it whisks the dust bunnies up into the bag. That’s what it’s supposed to do. I suppose if it sang a song while it did it I’d talk to other people about my vacuum cleaner. Things and people doing what they’re supposed to do… that’s what they’re supposed to do.

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  • Bill Sledzik

    I see your point, Jason, but I wonder if we’re not applying Godin’s Purple Cow thing a little too aggressively. I’m not going to switch banks because they offer me pizza, or coffee, or toasters. KeyCorp offered iPods a while back, and it didn’t move me to even read the ads. That may explain why so few banks offer such premiums, but that’s an observation not based on any research.

    I don’t want anything more than solid service, competitive rates, convenient branches and killer online banking options. And yeah, most all banks can do that pretty well.

    I remain convinced it’s the little things that matter. And maybe that does come back to pizza. But in the end, pizza — or whatever it is — just adds to the “comfort zone.” It’s not likely a reason you would recommend a bank, is it?

    For a real point of difference, look at the supermarkets that serve my region. They offer pretty much the same goods and services, but one — Giant Eagle — lets me earn discounts on gasoline at the company’s “Get-Go” stations. I save 10-cents a gallon for every $50 in groceries I buy. Now that’s a tangible selling point, though I’m sure it’s built into the price of the smoked turkey and shredded wheat. It has to be.

  • Jason Falls

    Rich — Thanks for the input.

    Bill — I certainly see your points here, but I think, in general, all banks are fairly equal (Big picture, here. I know there are subtle differences.). The thing then that will enable and inspire customers to sing the praises is the bell, whistle or widget that differentiates the bank from all the others.

    If it’s a pizza, cool. That’s a simple approach. Maybe the differentiation is the bank has a social network of investors you can join and discuss money decisions with like minded people in a safe atmosphere. Maybe it’s leather sofas and TVs in the lobby instead of stand-up pen chains for deposit slips.

    The point is that something has to make the commodity stand out because everyone else can do what that bank is doing.

    Thanks for the continued conversation. I like it when readers and commenters make me think harder about a topic!

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