If the concept of hugging and bankers strikes you as incongruous, I completely understand. However, my banker hugged me today – twice in fact. It struck me as I was leaving the bank that if more bankers were willing to hug their customers, we might have a much better appreciation for the industry in these difficult financial times.
Of course, hugs don't have to be the kind where you wrap your arms around the other person and squeeze. Hugs make you feel better. I can't think of ever having a bad one. Even from my old friend Jim from Ohio, who was the size of a bear and could squeeze the breath out of you whenever we'd meet up again after years of not seeing each other. It still felt really good.
My wife Joann, who has never met Claire, called her for the first time earlier this week. Joann is a very astute judge of people and after one phone call between her and Claire, Joann couldn't say enough about what a "sweetheart" she is and what "fantastic customer service" she experienced.
A bank is just bricks and mortar – until you add the main ingredient – people. The same is true of all of our businesses – large or small.
Claire understands that as well as anyone I've ever met. My first contact with her was about two years ago. The Chalfont branch had just recently opened and Claire was its new manager. I was so overwhelmed with my first visit that I thought there must be a hidden camera recording us for a future seminar on how to deliver world class service. It was that good.
Two years later and guess what? It's just gotten better. When I asked Clarie her secret she said, "It's not hard. You just have to be nice to people and treat them how you'd want to be treated. I find out what we can do for them and then I do everything I can to make that happen."
She also obviously knows how to lead as the rest of her branch does the exact same things.
And, you know what really excites me? I've noticed in the past year when I've visited other PNC branches there are lots of changes. People are making eye contact, smiling, calling me by name, opening doors and stepping up service.
I have a suspicion Claire is also hugging her fellow bankers too.