I recently heard a story about a man who was out shopping with his wife at a large shopping center. He grew bored watching her try on clothes and muttered something about being back in a bit. Eventually, the wife had completed her shopping, but her husband had not yet returned. Wanting to head home, she called her husband on his cell phone.
The wife asked, “Where are you?”
He said, “You remember that jewelry store we went to about 10 years ago, and you fell in love with those diamond earrings? We didn’t have much money at the time, and I said that one day I would get them for you.”
“Yes, I remember,” she said expectantly, as tears began to form in her eyes.
“Great! I’m in the golf store right next door to that,” he replied.
That is a funny story, but it demonstrates the importance of taking the time to really understand the people we interact with. I’m privileged to work with a number of financial institutions that are regularly voted as top places to work in their community. In almost all instances, these institutions have developed a culture in which employees aren’t simply trying to be friendly with one another, but are actually taking the time to understand their coworkers and their objectives. This allows them to be truly helpful to each other. Not surprisingly, these institutions often are the most efficient, because the entire team is mindful of how their actions impact the jobs of those they work with.
This same concept works for financial institutions as they interact with their customers. Most financial institutions have comparable organizational structures and similar product offerings, but not all have comparable results. With intense competition and rising regulatory costs, the institutions that are thriving are the ones that are exceptional at taking the time to understand their customers and their needs and at offering the products and providing the service that satisfies their customers’ individual needs.