Serving the Needs of People – Not Just Words

Every business likes to say that they serve the people and provide the best service possible. I am sure that you have heard that statement a million times over. I mean – if you corner a manager of a company and ask the question pertaining to their mission or strategic plans – you are most likely to hear a response toward the top of the list that includes something like “we are the leader in customer service”, “we are striving to be the best in customer service” or “the customer is our #1 objective”.

Well is any of this true? Do you really believe it? I think the answer is “yes” and the answer is “no”.

You see, if you are a customer of a business or organization, then the chances are strong that you are being taken care of just up to the point that they don’t upset you enough to leave. Most companies, by default, provide just enough to keep you from leaving. Wouldn’t it be nice if a company would anticipate your needs and serve you with what is absolutely in your best interest regardless if you ask for it or not? With all the expertise they have in their respective industry about the publics’ needs, wouldn’t it be great if they would just provide free advice to their customers on matters that would make everyone’s lives better and simpler?

Now all of this has been about the customer – but what about the prospect that is not a customer simply because they don’t qualify per some set guidelines. This group is basically left out of many services, to just fend for themselves. Can you imagine being in a situation like this? This group is often referred to as the un-served or underserved. Unfortunately, this group is overlooked or not even considered as a target market because it is perceived that they have no economic, political or social power. Mistakenly, this group is mostly the opposite. They are leaders, hard workers, patriotic – for the most part, just like you and me. The majority are in this group because of unfortunate situations and things beyond their control. Income and education is plentiful in this group but society overlooks them.

In the banking industry, like all other industries, the norm is to provide just-barely-good-enough service – as described above – and not to serve the group of people that do not qualify by our pre-established rules. Here in Bloomington/Normal, there are pockets of our community, neighborhoods and groups of people that do not receive the best available service and in some areas no service at all. As a result, a lot of people have to resort to very expensive, alternative financial providers just to survive. Many cannot cash their pay checks and rely on Currency Exchanges or worse measures. Hundreds of our friends and neighbors, some earning $50,000 or more, can’t secure a small $500 loan for emergencies and must turn to payday lenders, where they get trapped in a debt spiral because the payment terms involve balloon payments and outrageous interest rates. Others who own a car free and clear – become desperate to get a small loan and put up their car’s title as collateral, taking a big chance that they might not be able to keep their car if they default on the loan!

Wouldn’t it be nice if some financial institution could just set up a branch in the most overlooked areas and do something to help serve the people in need? The community needs service in all areas for all people. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if someone would finally come up with products and services to address old common problems? We need a way to set up accounts so that people can cash their pay checks. We need a service that can provide small loans at a respectful interest rate to help people in an emergency situation. We need a way to teach and consult people how to better manage what they have and grow the finances to a level that supports them. Biblically, this is described as teaching the people to fish.

If we can find a way to do these things, then I think we can honestly say that we serve the people and we provide the best service possible!

Stay tuned and get prepared!

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