Letters From Leton: Best If Used By (Part 2)

My last share was one that most banks or businesses wouldn’t want to hear about themselves. Employees lack of attention to detail. Outdated knowledge or lack of knowledge about current products and services leading customers (me in this situation) to consider taking their business elsewhere.

But not all is lost. The same week I experienced poor service, I also experienced great service – one at a place you might not expect.

First let’s start at Tractor Supply (you will note I didn’t share the names of businesses where I received poor service).

I ran by Tractor Supply one day at lunch to purchase bird seed. Middle of the week. Just one bag. Late lunch. In and out. I was on a mission (men don’t shop, we go on missions), and time was important as I had a call at 2:00 PM.

As I entered the store, I had that sinking feeling in my gut. The store was jammed full of folks. On a Wednesday. Good news – just a couple of people checking out. Two Cashiers. Maybe I could complete the mission and be back to work in time for my call.

In the minute or so that I grabbed the buggy, made my way quickly to the bird seed and returned to the cashier’s area, a herd of people had now gathered in line to check out. Ugh. Should I gamble on the line moving or put the bird seed back and return to work and make a trip back to Tractor Supply another time?

All of the sudden an employee appears and asks me, “Are you paying by cash or card?” I said card, so she used a handheld device to scan the bar code on the seed bag then ran my card in the handheld device, and I was finished! I exited the store in plenty of time to make my call. (Other employees with handheld devices had also swarmed to the front to help other customers. Every employee had become a cashier.)

My second positive experience was at the DMV. Yes, the often-maligned DMV.

I had received a mail reminder in August that my license would expire in November, and because of COVID-19, I could use the online service or schedule an appointment. Since I wanted to upgrade to the Real ID, I went online and made my appointment for the earliest available date – November 6th at 8:30 AM.

At first, I was a little put out that the earliest date and time available was 90 days away and after my license would be “technically expired”.

On Friday the 6th I arrived at the DMV. I was greeted by a smiling face who introduced herself and asked how she could help. I shared my name and why I was there. She already knew why I was there and had forms ready for me to complete.

After a few minutes of filling in forms I was called up. The young lady reviewed my documents for the Real ID and processed me in a timely manner.

I asked the DMV staffer who was helping me how this appointment thing was working out, as we had adopted a similar process at the Bank. She said the staff loved it. Yes, there had been issues early on with the computer systems being slow in scheduling appointments, but those bugs seem to have been worked out.

Now there was less stress on the staff as they knew who was coming and what they needed, and she felt they were able to deliver better service. Better Service. The DMV.

At 9:00 AM that day, I had a UVA Wise Board Meeting. I had shared with the UVA folks that I would be a little late due to the DMV visit. I arrived on time and ahead of several other Board members. Folks there were amazed with my service story.

Pondering these positive customer service experiences after 2 negative ones during the same week, I was reminded that technology coupled with caring and trained staff is such a winning combination. That most jobs today involve staff multitasking but dropping what they are doing when it comes to taking care of the customer.

And that the biggest challenge in banking or business is our resistance to embrace change.

Stay safe this week.

– Leton

“Letters From Leton” is a blog series comprised of the weekly updates that Leton Harding – President, Chairman, and CEO of Powell Valley National Bank, shares with the Bank’s team members. These newsletters are full of uplifting anecdotes and intriguing insights that are applicable beyond the Bank, so we want to share them with you.