5 ways a modern George Bailey could put the ‘wonderful’ back into customers lives

lessons bankers can learn from it's a wonderful life

Helping customers and members through a pandemic, George Bailey style.

George Bailey, the small-town banker from the classic film “It’s A Wonderful Life,” understood the importance of seeing his customers as people first.

His support for them during hard times reflected not only George’s generous nature but also his commitment to their families and to Bedford Falls itself. He knew that his customers did “most of the working and paying and living” in the community, and didn’t want them falling victim to cruel Mr. Potter.

Can today’s communities get back to a wonderful life again after the COVID-19 pandemic? If it were up to George Bailey, the answer would be a clear “yes.” He may have been only a film character but his values and approach hold relevant lessons for bankers in these trying times.

Here’s how a modern George Bailey might support customers during a pandemic.

  1. He would make sure to keep in touch with customers and offer reassurance. George and his employees might need to meet with them virtually rather than getting together at a bank branch, but one-on-one talks remind customers that their banker stands ready to offer assistance and to steer them through financial difficulty.
  2. George would listen to his customers and tune in to their needs and problems, offering solutions even if he couldn’t address every issue himself. He’d adapt to offer new services to clients facing sudden hardship and ramp up his customer service team to respond to the influx of calls. In so doing, George would champion customers during a stressful time and establish his bank as a valuable and expert resource.
  3. A 21st century George Bailey would harness technology to respond to the crisis, finding new ways for customers to do business with the bank remotely. He’d establish a COVID-19 digital platform to educate and engage customers, perhaps offering community forums as the bank and its clients weather the storm together.
  4. Dedicated to supporting small business clients, George would offer a guiding hand to help them secure Payment Protection Program (PPP) funds, loan forgiveness and other aid needed to stay afloat and support their employees through the pandemic. He would know that even if Mr. Potter isn’t breathing down their necks, customers may simply be unable to generate sufficient revenue during the outbreak.
  5. Along those lines, George would rally the community to support local businesses to make sure they stay around to serve Bedford Falls into the future. He’d call on the creative talents of his marketing team and community leaders to brainstorm ways to lift businesses and struggling families so the community remains strong and healthy even through adversity.

Through it all, George would make his own employees’ wellbeing a high priority, realizing how vital they are to the bank and that they may be handling new pressures themselves during the pandemic.

“It’s A Wonderful Life” demonstrated the profound connections in a community. While the lesson extends well beyond business relationships, George Bailey reminds us that an attentive banker can help people enjoy financial security and thus build a community – one strong enough to withstand a crisis.

Ignite Sales is the leader in digital customer engagement, using artificial intelligence for engaging analytics to facilitate growth, deeper product penetration and increase satisfaction levels of bankers and customers.

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