I like most people am indifferent about my bank. When asked what your favorite businesses or places you frequent are, bank usually does not make the list. I would venture to guess that most people have more feelings of dislike towards their bank because most of the time they deal with them at length is because there is a problem. I like you never looked forward to going to the bank or though my bank was better than any other, then… it happened.
When National City Bank was bought out by PNC there were some small changes that occurred in our local branches, the most powerful by far was the offering of FREE COFFEE. Each branch purchased a Kureig Coffee Maker that they placed in the lobby with assortments of coffees, teas, all the fixings and to-go cups with lids and the little cardboard sleeve that keep you from melting off your fingertips. In the list of things that make give life enjoyment, coffee is in my top ten so needless to say when I first saw it I thought it was really cool and a nice thing for the bank to do for its customers. It made me smile (never a bad thing for your customers to do) as I walked out the door with my fresh, steaming cup of happiness. Then a funny thing began to happen, instead of banking online, instead of going through the drive through, I would go to the lobby so I could get my free cup of coffee. Every time I enter the lobby I am greeted by name from the staff, which always happened before just not as much since I rarely went in. They ask about my day, they are kind to my daughter when she is with me and we exchange good-byes and smiles on the way out. Again none of this are things that they did not do before, I was just experiencing it more.
Before I would only go into the lobby if I had an issue so my association with my bank was problems. Now my outlook is quite different; I envision being greeted by name by a warm friendly face and enjoying a hot cup of coffee. Here’s the kicker, they did not do anything except add a coffee pot! There customer services has not changed one bit, no better no worse. The only thing that has changed is my perception, all because of a coffee pot. In an automated world where most interactions you have with your bank are at the ATM, the drive through teller or online the coffee maker drew me into the lobby more often and increased interaction with actual people. People are what make a business great and connections are what people love about their favorite businesses. In an age where it is tempting (and possible) to automate many areas of your business take a second to consider what that might do the amount of facetime your staff has with your customers. If this experience has taught me anything it is that the more a business can encourage live interactions with customers the more enjoyable you make the experience for them and that carries loyalty for your company or brand. That my friends is priceless.