Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Working the Line

Hilarious story at the bank today. Head office is on a new “work the line” kick. Working the line means when customers are in line we should get out of our offices and go talk to them. Head office’s reasoning is that when customers are in line at the bank they don’t like to see bankers sitting in their office, seemingly, doing nothing. To me this epitomizes how out of touch management is. I have a million things to do and have no time for aimless chat. Isn't that why we employ greeters? In the afternoon today I was juggling;

1. A financial plan for a customer who wants to sell an investment property to fund a family trust so he doesn’t have to pay for hockey lessons for his sons…. Very profitable client!

2. A customer is considering bringing over his portfolio from another financial institution so I’m putting together a proposal for 500k… could bring in $10,000 in revenue per year for the bank if it works out.

3. My ebay bid on a pair of Cole Haan Air Dempsey is closing. I’m in if they close for less than a hundred… 10 minutes to go.

So, as you can see, I don’t really have time to “work the line.” And anyway, the line consists of three people;

1. An older lady clutching a bag full of pennies she wants to change to bills. Probably not even a customer.

2. A younger guy in a “hoodie.” I think his net-worth consists of 10 Tu-Pacs CDs and a half pack of Zig Zags.

3. The local multi-level marketing “businessman,” in line to pay off a portion of his overdraft.

I try to hunker down and hide behind my monitor but the manager is working her way around the offices encouraging us to show team spirit and “work the line.” I am forced out to the floor.

I turn to Tracy who has come out of her office at the same time as me. I listen to her complain about how she won’t be able to meet the deadline for her mortgages before interest rates change tomorrow. As I am commiserating, Shelly lumbers out of her office. As dumb as my manager is, I am sure that she didn’t encourage Shelly to “work the line.” Even my manager knows that is a bad idea. This could get interesting.

Just as Shelly starts to work the line, Mr. X, a real customer, enters the bank and stands at the end of the line. He owns several apartment buildings and has tons of money. I have about a million financial designations but am not allowed to talk to Mr. X because he is Shelly’s customer. Shelly has been at the bank 20 years so she "owns" the best customers,even though she did not finish high school and doesn't have an investment license. This is indeed interesting!

Shelly and Mr. X exchange greetings.

Shelly “How was your week?”

Mr X. “Oh, I was in my place in Hawaii last week. Nice… how about you?”

Shelly “Me and my hubby wanted to go outlet shopping on Saturday but we couldn’t get across the border because of (hubby’s) criminal record. Or maybe it was the child support issue. Man, were we pissed cause, like, we pay taxes and so we should be able to buy stuff at Walmart in the states, right?”

Mr. X “Ahh….?”

Shelly “Heh, do you live down by the railroad tracks?”

Mr. X “No … actually I live up in (extremely rich area.)”

Shelly, “Cause me and my hubby are looking at moving to the RV park down there…”

Mr. X blanches somewhat, opens up his cell phone and explains he has to make a call.

Shelly in parting “Make sure to call me when you are in the market for more RRSPs or stuff.”

Tracy and I were cracking up. This was so fun we watched Shelly “work the customers” for another half hour. Tracy didn’t finish her mortgages, I rushed my portfolio proposal and Mr. X may have lost all respect for our bank but we “worked the line” and had some fun.

Maybe I’m too hard on management!

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