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Tuesday, December 01, 2015
Volume 21 | # 493
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It's not how good you are, it's how good you want to be. » Paul Arden

The Fundamentals of it All

I read comments last week from an NBA coach that had me chuckling out loud.  I’ve shouted the same thing scores of times in recent years while coaching and watching my sons’ basketball games.

But his comment struck a nerve with me about more than sports.  I believe the main point behind it is relevant in business as well.

Byron Scott of the LA Lakers was interviewed after a frustrating loss, and he complained, “No one boxes out for rebounds anymore.”  When asked why he thought that was, he said, “AAU.  I hate AAU.”

Now, for the coach of one of the most iconic professional teams in the world to lament his own team’s lack of fundamentals struck me as kind of humorous.  But I understood his frustration.
He suggests that young, talented players are no longer being taught the fundamentals of the game.  They simply rely on athleticism and natural talent.  They take things for granted because they’re better than the competition around them.
But when these players eventually run into competition with as much (or more) talent, their lack of fundamentals hurts them and their teams.  At a certain level, natural talent no longer differentiates.  Everyone out there is talented.
Scott’s statements got me thinking about our industry, as well.  There are a lot of smart, talented folks out there competing for the same customers.  
And they’re all good.  And they all want to win.
But some are more fundamentally sound in their practices than others.  Like the player who understands that boxing out for a rebound increases his chances of success, bankers who are committed to the fundamentals of productive service and sales cultures likewise improve their prospects. 
It may be as simple as consistently welcoming customers with a smile, using their names in conversations, and sincerely thanking them for their business.  
It could also be checking in with your better customers to get caught up with them and make sure they are happy.
It might be handing out business cards as often as possible and making a point of introducing yourself to folks you don’t know.  
And something as complicated as simply, clearly letting people know you’d personally love to have them as customers has been known to work wonders, as well.  (Go figure.)
How fundamentally sound is your team?

Moderately Impressive

I was on a work trip recently in the northeast that had me finishing up too late on my last day to get an evening flight.  Instead, I figured I’d stay near the airport and catch a 6:00 AM flight the next day.  

With an evening open, I took up an offer a bank executive friend made a while back to get together when I was in town.

The hotel I was booked at was listed as a “moderate” hotel.  In some towns, they’re pretty nice; in others, well…they’re moderately depressing.

I knew I’d have trouble making it to a restaurant downtown, so I asked my friend’s assistant for recommendations near my hotel.  I didn’t take it as a good sign when she couldn’t think of any place in that area she’d recommend.
She then checked with my hotel and found that it had a small lobby restaurant.  And my friend said he’d be happy to meet me there.
I agreed and then laughed to myself that at least I would be able to make the case to my buddy that I’m frugal when it comes to travel expenses.  And I hoped the options were more than a lobby sundry shop and microwave oven.
When I arrived, I was relieved to see that this hotel’s small lobby restaurant/bar looked nice.  It was simple, but nice and welcoming.
Then I met Barbara, the bartender/food server/welcome committee and Mary, her manager.  And I was reminded that the customer experience is driven far more by the moving parts (people) in a place of business than the facilities.
They were a whir of motion in a very busy lobby and bar area with between 30 and 40 folks either eating or drinking at any time.  I’ve been in near empty places before and wondered if the staff went home.  
But even in a large crowd, I felt I was a longtime favorite customer.  Looking around, it seemed we all were.  They asked how our days had gone, laughed at folks’ comments, quipped about the stories on the newscast playing in the lobby... and just made people feel like guests.
My friend and I had a great catch-up session and I left with a new favorite hotel in that city.  The facilities were fine.  But the moving parts (Barbara and Mary) were exceptional.  
They connected.
Whether your facilities are new or old, cavernous or small… customer experiences will be defined by you and your team.  
What will yours be?

Being positive in a negative situation is not naive. It's leadership. » Ralph Martson

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