I have a friend, a retired executive for a well-known global brand. On a wall in his home hangs a letter.
It’s not a letter from his CEO, the President of the United States or a celebrity. It’s a rejection letter he wrote to a job candidate who didn’t fit the bill for his department.
Unusual as this may seem, hear me out.
The bright young woman came in to interview, but like I said, she didn’t pass muster. She wanted badly to work for this well-known company, and managed to impress the right person in another area of the firm. She was hired, but kept the rejection letter.
Over time, my friend came to know the woman well. A relationship developed beyond the office, permissible since they worked in different departments. And given that –as the writer Dan Jenkins put it – “life is a funny old dog, sometimes,” the couple married, and remain so to this day.
The rejection letter is in a place of honor, sparking years of good-natured laughter for friends.
So what’s the point? And what in the name of holy matrimony does a rejection letter have to do with bank marketing?
It’s about old-school “social media’. Rejection letters, handwritten thank-you notes, promptly returned phone calls.
Sadly, folks, those small gestures of courtesy are vanishing. And it’s hurting American business.
For example, say a candidate reaches the “finalist” stage for a position. He or she interviews, but never hears another word from the hiring authority.
For the rejected party, it communicates three negative messages:
- My time wasn’t valuable;
- I failed at the interview;
- The hiring authority doesn’t value people
I’m sure you’ll agree that these types of messages wouldn’t benefit your bank or its brand.
To be fair, often companies receive hundreds, if not thousands of applicants for a position. It’s not practical or possible to respond to all applicants with a call or letter. However, once at the interview stage, a call or letter seems to be just common decency.
And as for phone calls and e-mails, an example: One Pensacola, Fla., firm monitors the efficiency with which employees return phone calls and e-mails. Failure to respond efficiently, ideally by the close of the business day, reflects poorly on the company and the employee. Responding efficiently, however, tells the client that you care. And it creates a kinder, more efficient office culture.
From a banking perspective, think about the customer who’s trying to negotiate the sometimes-swirling waters of the mortgage process, and he/she has given business to your bank. This is the biggest financial transaction of their lives. When and how you respond to them will impact their feelings, not only about you, but about the bank and its brand.
All of this is about the seemingly-dying art of etiquette. The power of “Yes, ma’am, yes, sir, please and thank you” seem to be forgotten relics. And e-mail has wrongly created the notion that a handwritten note, card, or letter is a cumbersome unnecessary antiquity. Good for grandma and grandpa, but not for the 21st century.
That’s wrongheaded thinking.
Taking a few minutes to write a note or letter, or to promptly return a phone message, makes it known that the individual customer or candidate matters, not only to you, but to your bank.
And for those who think there’s not enough time in the day, think of the 41st President of the United States, George Herbert Walker Bush, who from his youth forward has carved out time in his schedule to answer correspondence.
It’s old school. But it makes a difference.
And it might end up on a wall, in an honored place.
Here are other rules of etiquette that matter, according to Eliza Browning, writing in “Inc.”:
- Send a thank-you note. Browning simply nails it when she writes, “… [T]he art of the thank-you note should never die.”
- Know the names of your colleagues and customers, from the mailroom to the boardroom, from the custodian to the CEO.
- “The Elevator Rule”: When meeting with clients or customers off-site, never discuss impressions of the meeting until the elevator is on the bottom floor and you’re out of the building.
- Focus on the face, not the screen. The flood of electronic devices has us more worried about e-mail than engagement. Put that thing away.
Read Browning’s complete article at http://www.inc.com/eliza-browning/business-etiquette-rules-that-matter-now.html
And here are a few others from us. All are self-explanatory:
- Dress appropriately.
- Be on time.
- Return calls by the day’s close of business.
- Carve out time for traditional and electronic correspondence.
- Eye contact.
These time-tested rules of engagement have worked for generations. If you’re serious about building meaningful relationships for yourself and your bank’s brand, this “old- school social media” speaks volumes.