What if going to your local bank felt like discovering a cool new restaurant or bar? When you think about it, you could have a similar experience: Meet a few nice new people, talk about whatever, get what you need, and eventually leave happy. In the restaurant world—or at similar places where you’re expecting a positive experience—the next idea you had might be to post something about it or text a friend to let share your story. But shouldn’t it also work something like that for banks?
The Banking Experience: It’s a Thing
Restaurants design their experience (actually, your experience) to be a whole combination of atmosphere, menu, what their waiters and waitresses are like, pricing, etc. Your experience is basically everything from the time you walk in the door until you’re going back out the door, hopefully with a smile on everyone’s face. Banks may not have amazing food to serve you, but it’s still all about the experience. At a good community bank, for example, they’re trying to give you a wonderful experience every time you step into the branch.
Banks win or lose on your experience with them. Actually, it’s about your experiences, every one—whether you go inside the bank, make an appearance at the drive-through, call for help, or do something on mobile. It’s all about each individual experience you have with the bank.
With all these experiences, you would think that most people would share their opinions about them online or in person. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. There’s no good way to find out how many people talk about their banking experiences in person, but looking at social, it’s probably not so much. In other words, there’s very little word of mouth.
What’s the Word on Word of Mouth
What is word of mouth, anyway? It’s about sharing experiences. It includes an element of persuasion, too, or dissuasion if the experience was especially bad.
Good word of mouth can save a company tons of money. If someone is telling everyone they know that some place is awesome, then the company doesn’t need to spend as much money on advertising to try to convince people that, well, that place is awesome. You believe what your friends tell you.
Personal storytelling is powerful, and it’s about what gets included in the conversation. It’s also helpful. You’re leading your friends and family toward good experiences and helping them avoid bad ones.
It has become a bit of a cliché, but it does seem important to “be in the conversation.” People’s experiences at banks don’t make it into the conversation as often as they could. If you open a checking account at a community bank, for instance, and you realize that the people were totally nice and friendly, would you immediately start texting or posting about how totally nice and friendly those people were? Maybe not just yet. Buy why not? It’s just another life experience that made you happy, just like the other ones throughout your day.
Perhaps some people have privacy concerns. But it’s not like if someone wrote a review online they’d be giving out their account info. Even if someone did have issues with that sort of thing, that shouldn’t stop them from sharing their experiences in person with friends and family. Again, back to word of mouth.
Four-Star Word of Mouth for Banks
So, assuming we’re all in on the joys of talking about our banking experiences, what would a four-star rating look like for a bank? This is the kind of over-the-top experience that generates wonderful word of mouth, of course.
Short of being first in line when you get there and having them serve you a delicious four-course meal while they’re counting out your stacks of cash, here’s what a four-star banking experience would probably look like (and, by the way, we’re assuming that this is a community bank):
When you enter the bank, someone will welcome you by name. Whether it’s “Mr.” this or “Mrs.” that, or by your first name, they know you already, and they’re happy to see you. They’re not just smiling on cue; they actually like you.
As you look around, you realize that there are quite a few people working there. You won’t have to wait long in line, if there even is a line. When you are waited on, that person will be well qualified to help you in a number of ways, for all sorts of transaction types. And if you need something that goes beyond that, you’ll be sitting with the bank manager or loan officer in no time.
You won’t be rushed. On the other hand, if you yourself are already in a rush, you’ll be able to take care of business without delay. Banking is at your pace, even if your pace is different from one day to another.
In short, your banking experience on this four-star day is part of your ongoing relationship with the bank. It’s like being a regular at a restaurant where they bring you your favorite appetizer before you think to order it. It is all about you.
So, that’s what a four-star banking experience would feel like. And if it’s way better than what you’re used to, then that’s when the storytelling urge should possibly kick in.
We love to share our experiences with others, because we’re natural-born storytellers (see also The Moth). It probably goes way back to our roots as people. Go into this forest for the best hunting spots, but stay out of that forest—there are bears. We’re modern banking types now, but we’re all still trying to be helpful to each other. And that’s why we’re so eager to share. So, the next time you have an awesome experience at a bank, maybe you should tell someone about it. It’s okay to share.