Treat your customer, as you want to be treated as a customer.” Catherine Pulsifer
Dear Readers, it has been almost a decade roller coaster on the “RISK WATCH” journey. After exiting mainline banking practice of almost three decades, I have for eight years looked at banking services through the eye of a customer. It’s a different terrain altogether on the other side of the coin, with many eye-openers. Sometimes I ask myself, “Is that how we were working?” Now I can confidently tell people that I am on the right path of seeing events as a banker, customer, and a Trainer. What a journey!
In March 2018, I wrote a two-part series on “THE ROLE OF THE SECURITY GUARD AS PARTNERS IN RISK MANAGEMENT”. Although my column is an opinion piece, I did not imagine this could result in me being invited to speak at one of the quarterly meetings of the US Embassy’s meetings on security-related matters with members of a group made up of Executives of all US companies and agencies in Ghana. My presentation highlighted on the need for security matters to be fused with great interpersonal relationship among all key stakeholders. Moreover, having good relationships with Security Guards came out tops as a strategy to motivate them to exhibit professionalism in their service delivery to both the employers as well as clients. In the current dispensation where bank customers have a variety of service providers to choose from, the first point of contact is a big determinant of how customers’ perception of their journey is likely to be. I have encountered several security guards who work so lackadaisically, putting customers off with their behaviour.
Kudos to Mr Emmanuel Tetteh, a Senior Security Officer at Access Bank Head Office
Before I recall extracts from that article let me first acknowledge the efforts being made by the Management of Access Bank Ghana, in taking the Customer Experience Journey to the first point of physical contact. Yes, I mean the first set of staff or representative you relate with before you enter the Bank. These are Security Guards whose job include making the entrance unencumbered, cars well parked, and risk free. Due to the nature of their work, these guards do not usually show pleasantness, much so when they work in the scorching sun. a couple of weeks ago, on a Monday morning, I had to attend a brief meeting at the Head Office. I had gone there earlier and was fortunate to be given a place at the frontage to park, instead of parking across the street which I had no idea was their main parking lot. As I tried to drive to park at the frontage, a security guard told me that I couldn’t park there. I politely told him that I have been made to park there a couple of months ago. He got a bit confused so he brought a senior Guard Mr Emmanuel Tetteh, to explain to me. As I made my point, this senior Guard talked to me in a very pleasant and professional manner that made me appreciate him. After asking how long I will stay for the meeting, he politely directed me to park at another place beside the building. He later on came near my car to explain the reason why I couldn’t park at my original choice. It is not about being given preferential treatment here. It is about how he balanced his work with professionalism, maturity, sincerity and empathy, still within his risk management function. He then guided me through the formalities at the lobby. On that Monday morning, he had patience for me and made me start my day feeling good. Some Security Guards can be very condescending, talking down to customers with stern looking faces. Managing Risk and Customer Experience is not easy. Thank You again Mr Emmanuel Tetteh for exhibiting the tenets of great customer service and being an asset to Access Bank, Ghana. The Customer journey along all touchpoints is not an event, and therefore the first impression of a bank is seen at the First Point of Interaction!
The Security Guard to the Rescue
Now, back to the true story that went viral several years ago in the US:
“This lady worked at a meat distribution factory. One day, when she finished with her work schedule, she went into the meat cold room (Freezer) to inspect something, but in a moment of misfortune, the door closed and she was locked inside with no help in sight. Although she screamed and knocked with all her might, her cries went unheard as no one could hear her. Most of the workers had already gone, and outside the cold room it’s impossible to hear what was going on inside.
Five hours later, whilst she was at the verge of death, the security guard of the factory eventually opened the door. She was miraculously saved from dying that day. She later asked the security guard how he had come to open the door, which wasn’t his usual work routine.
His explanation: “I’ve been working in this factory for 35 years, hundreds of workers come in and out every day, but you’re one of the few who greets me in the morning and says goodbye to me every night when leaving after work. Many treat me as if I’m invisible. Today, as you reported for work, like all other days, you greeted me in your simple manner ‘Hello’. But this evening after working hours, I curiously observed that I had not heard your “Bye, see you tomorrow”. Hence, I decided to check around the factory. I look forward to your ‘hi’ and ‘bye’ every day because they remind me that I am someone.
By not hearing your farewell today, I knew something had happened. That’s why I was searching everywhere for you and I knew it was God who remembered me of your greetings hmm ma sister God has really saved your life by your deeds.
Lady cried out praising God. (Deacon Richard Stanard, Englewood, NJ, USA)”
That was a close shave. As a banker, how do you relate with the Security Guards in your premises? Do you just walk past them without even a nod, and treat them as if they are statutes? Just imagine you being stuck in the elevator late in the night when most staff have left, with no mobile phone on you to call the Guard or friend for help!
The Role of a Bank Security Guard
The bank branch security guard is responsible for the security and protection of the bank’s employees and all assets. Depending on the bank, the guard may also be expected to enforce the company’s overall safety requirements. Guards will need to stay alert to watch for potential threats to the safety of employees and customers. Bank branch security guards will also need to investigate any suspicious behavior among the customers or employees to safeguard the financial assets of the branch. There are times when a disgruntled customer may become a threat, and the guard will need to diffuse the situation. In the case of a robbery, the guard must know how to safeguard the customers and employees, and acts as a liaison between the police and the branch.
Being a bank branch security guard can be a dangerous occupation, as often banks, especially those in large metropolitan areas, are targets for robberies. Guards are often the first person the robbers want to disable.
Treat the Security Guard as a Risk Partner – A good customer experience Tip
I advocate the following tips in building a mutually satisfying experience for the staff and security guards, to enable them to enhance your customers’ experience:
- Appreciating the role of the security guard as a partner. They also do their own risk profiling of visitors and customers and they can share their apprehensions and good feelings about their encounters with you.
- A customer’s good encounter with security enhances the customer experience and promotes business transactions. Bad experiences make clients vent their anger on the front liners.
- When there is a change of internal policy that affects their work, please inform them and solicit their cooperation.
Please enjoy your partnership with your security guard. They are your internal customers. They can save your career and even your life one day as we saw in the story.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alberta Quarcoopome is a Fellow of the Institute of Bankers, and CEO of ALKAN Business Consult Ltd. She is the Author of Three books: “The 21st Century Bank Teller: A Strategic Partner” and “My Front Desk Experience: A Young Banker’s Story” and “The Modern Branch Manager’s Companion”. She uses her experience and practical case studies, training young bankers in operational risk management, sales, customer service, banking operations and fraud.