People do the craziest things. The story I'd like to share is certainly not a very inspiring tale, but it does make a point. I came across this piece of absurdity while perusing this month's issue of the Speaker's Idea File, a newsletter published by St. Paul, Minn.-based Ragan Communications.
John R. Georgius, president of First Union Corp., tells of his first few months as head of First Union's general banking group. He was brought in to improve customer service and reduce the number of complaints his company was receiving. One day he received a letter from a customer in a small rural town. The customer wrote about the day he went to the bank to cash a check for $70. He came up to the drive-through window and put his check into the tube. We've all done this many times. However, even though he was a regular customer, the teller didn't recognize him and asked to see his driver's license so she could verify his identity.
The man followed instructions and waited a few minutes. Then the teller asked him to pull over to the side so she could perform some transactions for other customers. "The branch manager will be with us in a minute and we'll take care of you," she told him. Again, the fellow did what he was told. After about five minutes the local police chief pulled up alongside his car and asked him to identify himself. He did, which is when the chief told him his driver's license had expired. When the man asked how he knew that, the police chief told him, "Well, I got a call from the bank branch manager who just turned you in."
How do you like that for customer service? So much for the friendly local bank. The teller had noticed the license had expired and notified the branch manager, who in turn called the cops. At the bottom of the letter written to Georgius was the notation, "You know, I never did get my check cashed either." That branch manager now works for a competitor, Georgius said, "where I hope he's turning in more customers."
For every story like that, however, there are others that will energize and inspire. This next one is a sales story, and I think it's terrific. It was told to me by a very proud father, Jerry Brazda, who has been contributing articles and advice to Modern Healthcare for many years now concerning the goings-on in Washington. As Brazda tells the story, his daughter is in sales with one of the nation's top insurance companies. She's married, has children and loves her work. Like any successful salesperson, she makes a lot of calls. In short, she's always on the go, hurrying from one place to the next. Unfortunately, one day she was hurrying too much and was stopped by a state trooper for speeding.
The officer asked for her license and went back to his car to write up her summons. When the trooper returned to give her the ticket, she saw an opportunity and asked him about his insurance needs. One thing led to another and a few weeks later she sold the trooper a life insurance policy. Now that's what I call turning a negative into a positive.
Opportunity is literally everywhere, but you have to recognize it and then grasp it with both hands. Attitude has a lot to do with it. A positive outlook on life can make all the difference in the world. There are too many individuals with the mind-set of the bank branch manager. They think of customers as a bother. They just don't care how their customers are treated. Just hope they all work for your competitors. Conversely, there are plenty more people like the insurance salesperson. They're filled with optimism, enthusiasm and perseverance. To them, customer service is what it's all about. And they win time after time.
Eliminate the negative,Charles S. Lauer, Publisher