Deliver on Your Word

Sounds simple, right? But what happens when you don’t deliver on your word.  Here is a real life example that happened just a few days ago.

Throughout the year, the Big 12 has been playing the following commercial during every conference game.

The commercial brags that there will be one champion.  The irony: The Big 12 had co-champions this year.  The Big 12’s decision makers couldn’t decide who was better team: Baylor or TCU.

The Big 12’s indecisiveness may have caused their conference a spot in the inaugural college football playoffs.  But instead of blaming the Committee in charge of the playoffs, let’s examine the actual statement from the Big 12.  It’s really simple, deliver on you what you say.

Reputation and Branding

It’s a term marketers and executives use all the time, “Our Brand.”  Regardless if you see branding as a strength or a bunch of malarkey, keeping your word in business is your reputation, and that is part of your brand.  When you go against your word, whether intentional or not, you tarnish your brand.  Once your reputation and brand are damaged, it takes time, energy and money to fix it.  The bad news is that those are resources you could be using to expand your business and increase revenue.  What’s even worse is that depending on how bad it is, it your reputation and brand may never be fully repaired.

Big 12 Example

Big-12-LogosThe following Monday after the Big 12 crowned their co-champions and the College Football Playoff committee named the top four, both national and local sports radio stations started attacking the Big 12.  A local sports show (note that there are no Big 12 teams located near my town of Knoxville, Tennessee) spent nearly an hour dissecting the issues with the Big 12, most notably the fact that there are only 10 teams in the Big 12, which prevents them from hosting a playoff to crown a conference champion. The sports show’s co-host then went on to state how hard it will be to get to two good college sports programs to join the Big 12 due to the fact the conference is not being represented in the inaugural college football playoffs.

Whether this is a short-term or long-term public relations issue for the Big 12, remains to be seen.  Most likely this will fade with time, but the radio host brings up a good point in that it will be hard to recruit a good team and now the Big 12 may have to lower their standards/expectations and bring on two schools that are not of the same caliber as their top performers.

Make Good on Your Word

If the Big 12 would have just picked Baylor as their Big 12 Champion, then maybe…maybe the conference would have a team in the playoffs.

Simply put, if you say you are going to do something, then do it.

But what happens if you can’t deliver on your promise?

  1.  NO overselling: Promise on what you know you can deliver.
  2. Be proactive: Don’t procrastinate; start working on delivering your promise immediately.
  3. Make no excuses: Without compromising your morals or ethics, exhaust every option you have.
  4. Communicate Up Front: If you are running behind on your promise, communicate up front to see if a delay will be a deal breaker.

This all seems like common sense, but unfortunately it happens on a regular basis.  What’s even worse, as customers we accept this type of service and keep giving businesses money for not delivering on their promise. Think about it: how many businesses promise you something and don’t deliver on that promise?  Do they try to make up for it?  If not, do you continue doing business with them?

Commercial Bank Branding and Football Logos

Titans HelmetsHow is it football fans can cheer for teams even though they continue to disappoint fans season after season? Better yet, how can banks learn from this during a period of employee turnover?

Let’s use the Tennessee Titans as an example.  I’m a huge Titans fan and became a fan when Coach Jeff Fisher was the head coach, Eddie George was the starting running back and Steve McNair was leading the team as quarterback.  All three people are no longer with the Titans.

  • Jeff Fisher: Now coaching the St. Louis Rams.
  • Eddie George: Hosting a college pre-game show for Fox.
  • Steve McNair: Traded to the Baltimore Ravens in 2005, retired in 2008 and passed away in 2009.

This season, The Tennessee Titans have a record of 2-10, and consist of:

  • Coach Ken Whisenhunt: A head coach who runs a traditional offensive scheme that contradicts Coach Fisher’s “Run-n-Gun” approach during the McNair era.
  • Running Back Committee: Instead of a starting running back, the Titans use a three-man approach.
  • Quarterback Problems: The Titans have started three different quarterbacks this season.

So why…why do I stay a fan of the Tennessee Titans.

Steve McNair was traded to Baltimore, so why am I not a Ravens fan?

Coach Fisher is in St. Louis, so why am I not a Rams fan, instead of staying with the Titans? 

I originally became a Titans fan due to proximity.  I live in Tennessee, and the Titans are in Tennessee.  But it soon become an emotional connection as the Titans seem to be an underdog.  Shoot, even when Steve McNair was chosen as MVP in 2003, he had to share the title with Payton Manning.

What can Banks take away from this?

Recently I wrote a post that touched on hiring commercial lenders based on their loan portfolio.  The flip side of this is what happens when a bank loses a commercial lender that has a successful portfolio.

Loosing a Strong Loan Producer

It happens to just about any community bank.  The have a top producing commercial lender who gets an offer they can’t refuse from a competitor.  They leave and immediately the bank accepts the fact that they are going to lose current customers due to “their banker” leaving.  Many times, banks start building a reactive checklist, but what if they started a proactive campaign.

Reactive Approach

Making a ListAs the bank starts searching for a replacement, the bank will also review the leaving commercial banker’s portfolio so it can be divided up between their current commercial lenders.

A good bank will also look at the profitability of each customer in the portfolio to see who is unprofitable and see this as an opportunity to “lose” this customer.  Plus, they will make sure to focus their attention on profitable and potentially profitable customers on the list.

This is a good strategy that every community bank should follow, but consider adding a proactive strategy that may already tie into your marketing and sales efforts.

Proactive Approach

Instead of waiting for a commercial lender to leave, consider these tactics to entrench your customers into your bank’s brand.

  • Email Communication: Let’s assume your bank’s sales culture has a calling program in place where your commercial lenders are required to meet with their entire portfolio at least three times a year.  If that is the case, what other forms of communication does your bank use to communicate to these customers?  A bank can create an email program where the bank is sending meaningful information.  It can be about a new service, business advice or anything else that the customer would deem useful.  This approach not only keeps customers in the communication loop, but also ties them to your bank’s brand beyond the commercial lender.
  • Customer Recognition: Find ways that your bank can recognize this customer and their business.  For example, if the commercial customer has a retail business, highlight their business to your customer base, and make sure the customer knows about it.  You may even want to let a bank executive notify the customer.  That way the customer now has a connection another banker in your organization.
  • Connect on Social Media: If you have a company presence on social media, make sure you are connected to your customer base.  Better yet, if your CEO or other executives are on a social media platform (i.e. Twitter, LinkedIn or Pinterest), make sure they are connected with the customer and engaged with them.
  • Team Approach: Most likely a commercial lender works with a team of people when dealing with their customers.  It may be a loan processor, or maybe a cash management specialist.  Either way, it is important that your commercial customers know the entire team.  Make sure your commercial lender introduces the support staff to their customers, or at the very least, their top customers.  Also consider creating a mentoring program, where the commercial lender takes an up-and-comer out with them on customer calls.

Brand Focus

You are connecting your customer to other people and outlets of your bank.  This will continue to establish the brand of your organization by reenforcing the strengths your bank has, and will make any customer think twice before they leave you to join their “former banker.”

Now if the Titans can just get their act together, I won’t be looking for another NFL franchise.

Alienating Your Fans

ClarkIn January, the Chicago Cubs announced they will be introducing a new mascot named Clark.  The announcement received mixed reviews that created a firestorm of comments on social media sites, sports focused websites, sports talk radio and other communication outlets.

It even caused one of my friends to make the following post on facebook:

John Clark Post

Which eventually led to this:

Pirates Jersey

The Chicago Cubs organization believes the new mascot will lead more families to Wrigley Field, which will lead to increased ticket sales and build brand loyalty to a new, young group; but will it work?

Anytime a company decides to make a change: update a logo or do a complete overhaul of their brand, there is bound to be a backlash.  A company has to decide how much they’re willing to pay for a change by examining the short term and long term impacts.

Price and Reward

short long arrowsBefore making a change, think about what it will cost you in the short term and how that will impact long term success.

Short Term Cost: Before a change is made, a company has to spend time to make sure the change works.

  • Time spent internally pulling the right resources together to develop the change.
  • Cost associated with researching to make sure change is worth it.
  • Assets used announcing the change, both within the company and to the public.
  • Potential loss of profit due to upset customers who decide to shop elsewhere.

Though these points are labeled “short term” they can lead to long term issues.  For example, if the change is so big and confusing, it can take years to effectively communicate the change to your customers.

What benefits will change bring?

  • Possibility of improved customer service and an increase in customer satisfaction
  • Increased repeat business from current customers
  • Brand new customers

The important thing is to make sure the company can survive the short term pitfalls so it can reap the long term benefits.

JCP

One real life example is JCPenny.  In 2012, the company tried to change it’s image from a store where coupons and everyday sales were the norm, to a store that had simple pricing. The change was big, JCPenny not only spent money changing their stores, but created a huge national TV campaign bragging about the changes, and essentially recreated their brand.

This had a negative impact on live long shoppers of JCPenny and created huge hurdles that the company couldn’t conquer.  People went to social media to complain, and the constant negative word of mouth reactions led to JCPenny to back peddle and go back to their old ways.

In the long-run, a strategy like that works on paper, but the backlash from their fan base led to short term losses that were so bad, JCPenny fired their new CEO and brought back the old regime.

So will the new mascot for the Cubs be worth it, or will it end up like the JCP’s simple pricing structure?

Have you

%d bloggers like this: