Being Polite to Strangers


Everyone reading this blog knows that I am an independent consultant.  That means that I am a small business owner, that makes my living providing services.  It also means that as an individual I am a consumer too.  I tell you all of this as what may appear obvious, but has escaped a lot of my recent interactions with local bankers.

I launched a campaign to introduce myself to several hundred senior leaders in banking in my local geography.  I used a low threat message that invited people to learn more in a 15 minute telephone conversation.  In most cases my message went completely unanswered, although I could confirm all messages had been delivered to an inbox and not a junk folder.

So first off, a majority of bankers were not interested in what I had to offer as a service, which of course was expected from such a campaign.  But what a majority of bankers also said by completely ignoring me was that I did not matter to them as a potential business and/or personal customer.

Now out of those that did respond, I was expecting responses that engaged with me, or at the very least were supportive.  And yet I discovered that people respond in a positive and negative way.

  • Most were polite, and gave me a credible reason why they were not interested in what I had to offer, and some just took the time to thank me for my information.
  • One Bank as a whole responded that while they had these services in-house, they wished me well with a worthwhile service.  I received over 15 such responses from the same bank!
  • One Bank was the polar opposite of the last one, has the same market as the other, and also specializes in small business banking, but their tone was dismissive and that I was bothering them.  In 90% of those responses I was told in several different ways I was an interruption to their day.
  • Lastly, a single CEO of a small bank said things I will not repeat here, safe to say he was over the top rude.

Now while all of these people have every right to respond the way they want to, I was puzzled that only a single bank was focused on service, and random others overall saw me as a potential customer someday.  Most probably would be interested in me if I walked through their doors, but that will never happen because when they had the chance to treat me with respect they failed.

How do your employees treat the people that they meet?  Are your employees focused on customer service 24/7 or only when they are on the clock?

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