Earlier this month I had dinner at a local Mexican food restaurant. My experiences there have always been generally favorable and the small town atmosphere really adds to the appeal. My family and I go often enough that most of the wait staff knows us by name, which is terrific.

On this particular visit I ordered a Bloody Mary. As Bloody Mary aficionados can attest, this cocktail is wildly open to taste, interpretation and the individual quirks of the drinker. The essentials are simple — vodka and Bloody Mary mix. Beyond that, you can pretty much add anything you want.

Shortly after ordering my drink, our waitress came back and apologized, saying the bar was out of mix and asked if I would like another kind of drink.

I declined, slightly disappointed, but my mood no less cheery than before. A few moments later, the bartender (again, someone who knows us by name) approached our table with what looked like a Bloody Mary. She apologized again for the restaurant running out of mix and said:

“Give this a try. I had a few ideas and threw together something I think you might like. Either way, it’s on the house.”

I did give the drink a try and was pleasantly surprised. While not my usual Bloody Mary, the unique combination of new ingredients turned me on to an entirely new way to look at the cocktail.

What consumer experience lessons can we learn from this? Many. Here are a few.

 

1) Know your consumers by name.

 

2) Acquire enough relational data to anticipate their needs.

 

3) Don’t let the consumer walk out unsatisfied.

 

The bartender took the restaurant’s brand in her able hands by concocting something that was at least as good as my usual drink order, if not possibly better.

Is your bank or credit union staff empowered to think about consumer relations and the consumer experience this way?

Are you finding ways to address consumer concerns and needs right away rather than going with a simple “no?” While that simple “no” is often easier for us, it can pose a total brick wall for our consumers.

Does your staff have the brand mindset to brave the deeper waters of consumer experience and navigate a path to “yes” (even if it means delayed gratification by working together toward a future “yes”)?

For example, if a consumer’s credit doesn’t immediately qualify them for a car loan, does your staff engage and educate to get the member to a point where they could qualify?

When a consumer consistently dips into the negative and is dinged with NSF fees (a source of revenue for your financial institution) does your staff take the time to visit with them about properly balancing the checkbook on a monthly basis?

While the fee income is great for your financial institution, consumer education and the deeper relationship it builds with a consumer could reap much more important benefits in the future. For me it was a simple Bloody Mary at dinner and a pleasant surprise when the restaurant was able to deliver. They definitely wowed me and earned future business.

For your consumers, however, it’s likely to be a significantly more important scenario. A savings account. A way out of debt. A way to save for a dearly-held dream.

Does your brand have bartenders that protect it and find ways to mix financial cocktails for your consumers, even if it means using slightly different ingredients?