Who’s Our Competition?

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As a business owner, I notice everything. I have to. In order for me to stay competitive, I need to be aware of what other businesses are doing around me and adjust accordingly. I can thank my years of riding a motorcycle for this tendency. You have to be ultra-aware when riding a motorcycle. Instead of looking at a car, you must look through the windshield of the car and see the driver’s eyes – you need to know that they see you too.

The other day I had to go to the bank. Through my critical eyes, I was growing more and more frustrated with my experience. I stood waiting outside the bank’s glass doors with several other customers, for the clock to strike 9:30am. I don’t have issues with the hours that banks keep (I actually do appreciate that some branches stay open quite late). I have issues with the staff inside, standing and staring at us like we were puppies waiting to be adopted. They continued to check their watches until they could open the door, a couple minutes after 9:30. This is issue one.

Issue two. Bank staff are trained extremely well to cross-sell customers at every opportunity. However, why is there no training to get to know a client? Why am I asked if I had made my RRSP contribution at the bank for this year? I have been banking there for years! My client profile indicates that I am financial planner with my own business. I don’t even have an RRSP there. Bank profits 1 – Client experience 0.

It frustrates me when I read articles that refer to banks as our competition. Competition, by definition, means you should at least try to be somewhat competitive. The banks may be in the same industry as us, but they are not our competition. We are in the Client Experience business and the banks don’t even come to the game.

As an aside, after my bank experience I had to go to the Apple Store. There were smart, helpful staff in an organized environment doing their best to create happy, long term clients. I thought to myself, “now, that is our competition.”

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