I’ve been on a gazillion business trips in my adult life and pride myself on being a pretty good packer. In fact, if all my laundry is done, I can pack for a seven day trip in less than ten minutes. Oh yes, I’m that good. 

But what to pack to take to the hospital? I was not allowed to wear any make-up or jewelry or even nail polish when I went in for surgery. I knew I’d be put in one of those awful gowns that tie in the back. So I just had to figure out what to wear as I left the place.

Being the smart ass that I am I chose my favorite t-shirt:

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It’s from the Broadway play Monty Python’s Spamalot. Hands down the best thing I ever saw on Broadway.Twice.

Anyway – little did I know going in that that shirt would be so true. The “service” I received (and many times didn’t) wasn’t life threatening but it was horrible. St. Vincent’s (St. Victims) to their credit, called me last week to inquire about my stay. I gave them an earful, named names, she was very thankful. 

But it got me thinking about the service industry. America is a service economy now. We manufacture very little on our soil. So most of us will wind up serving others for pay.

And to quote Ken Blanchard in Raving Fans: “Your customers are only satisfied because their expectations are so low and no one else is doing any better.”

So to all the naysayers out there that say you cannot differentiate with service I say “Hooey!” There’s only one hospital in Santa Fe but I could’ve driven to Albuquerque where there are three to choose from. There’s competition. Unfortunately I didn’t hear any thing great about ABQ facilities so I went for the closest to home. 

Not unlike our members. Convenience continues to be a key driver of selection – and NOT because service isn’t important – for the most part it doesn’t exist. 

As many of you know, I’ve been a Net Promoter Score advocate for years. It asks that simple question “On a scale of 0 to 10 how likely is it that you would RECOMMEND the credit union to a friend, family member or colleague?” And then the equally powerful “What is the primary reason for the score you gave?” 

It’s shocking to me how many credit union members will easily give a 10 – the highest possible score – with the reason “I’ve never had a problem.” Validation of how low expectations are. They are loyal because you haven’t screwed up – yet. 

Or – in the case of my hospital stay, “I’m not dead yet.” I guess I’m a promoter. Thanks for not killing me.

So imagine if you did the unexpected? Wowed them as they run their weekly errand that is banking? Not only would that change their loyalty reason it would create word-of-mouth – the most powerful marketing tool there is. 

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