In presentations, I find myself pontificating just a bit about the ways smartphones and technology tend to make us the most informed, connected, and yet, simultaneously disconnected people in history.
That last feature isn’t usually highlighted in the iPhone or Android commercials.
If we aren’t careful, these wondrous devices make it extremely easy to give the people around us the distinct impression that they aren’t really worth our attention.
Of course, that assumes that they, too, aren’t staring at a small screen while standing in front of you.
Too many of us have apparently decided that no matter who is near or what is happening around us, the most important thing in the world is whatever pops up next to make our phones ping, blink, or vibrate.
I was joking/commiserating with a bank regional manager recently that “back in the day” you’d look forward to the next customer walking up because you’d at least have someone new to talk to.
These days, we usually find folks’ personal smartphones in their hands or sitting right on the counter next to them. When customers walk up, most are (relatively) quick to give them their attention.
But as soon as an interaction is over, they are back to whatever text conversation(s) they have running.
I witnessed a young man recently texting while he was ostensibly distributing fliers in his store. Unless he was asking someone at the branch to send more supplies his way… I’m thinking that wasn’t the best place for his attention at the time.
My friend also made the funny estimate that about 90% of the text conversations people tend to have are about things they’d never waste the time of a verbal conversation on.
I kidded that he should have his managers text their team members every now and then with motivational quotes, instructive suggestions, or… oh, pictures of puppies wearing sunglasses to make them smile.
If they are going to be staring at a little screen, a smile on their faces is better than a blank stare.
He chuckled…and then said, “I think I might do that.” The scary thing is that he really might.
Should texting on the job be banned? I don’t think so. (Many people rely on it to manage family things.)
But we should be aware that while texting while driving our cars is hazardous, too much texting while trying to drive our businesses can be, as well.
Over the years, I’ve frequently kidded with branch managers and bankers that customers have something they are busy with that keeps them from paying much attention to us.
Those things are called “lives.” They’re busy out there living them, and we’re not really much of a part of them.
But don’t take it personally. We’re the same way with any number of service providers out there trying to attract our attention.
Not paying attention to something isn’t necessarily a reflection on that person or business’s value. It’s just that those things called "lives" tend to take up a lot of our attention.
Working with hundreds of branch openings over the past decade or so, I’m always struck by the tremendous drop off in marketing energy we see between the end of week one, month one, and the end of year one.
And sure, I get it. New branches in new locations definitely deserve our biggest “Ta Daaaaah” efforts. We go all out to be noticed.
But over time, and often not that much time, we seem to adopt an attitude of, “Well, that’s done.” We think that our presence has been “established.”
Our marketing energy and focus drops to a fraction of where it started. And frankly, so does customer awareness.
On any given day, week, month, season, etc. most folks give no thought to banking. They already have one. It hasn’t made them mad in a while. Out of sight is out of mind and life goes merrily along.
They are not shopping for what we offer, so they aren’t looking for us.
The customer counts of a grocery store (or even local traffic near a traditional branch) mean practically nothing if we remain just part of the nondescript backdrop to their days.
I visited with a branch a while back with great “personal touch” marketing and an energetic young lady managing it. The branch had been open for years and was a top producer.
She said something that made me smile: “Every morning I open this branch is a ‘Grand Opening’. These folks may not choose to bank with us today. But it won’t be because they don’t know that we want them to!”
You likely do not have close to the same marketing budget you had at Grand Opening. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have close to the same energy and drive. (And hey, smiles, handshakes, and conversations are still free.)
Make this week, and next… and the next a Grand Opening week.