(Takkie is a South African word for running shoes.)
Don some takkies and physically reach out to your customers every payday. Sound like a big deal?
To Maggie Lesele (single mom to a 12-year-old son) it was a no-brainer. And now she’s unintentionally become the inspiration behind the Takkie service campaign that’s urging Standard Bank employees to get light on their feet and shift their thinking around improved customer service.
Her story’s incredibly real, inspirational and impossible to ignore. At the heart of it is a universal lesson about the results of acting from a pure intention - the desire to put herself in her customers’ shoes, literally and figuratively, so she could really meet their needs.
Her infectious attitude is now driving change at Standard Bank and her enthusiasm for and focus on the customer is the key to her career success too.
In 15 years she’s worked her way up from Lydenburg branch ATM demonstrator, to junior, Auto-E Team Leader, Service Centre Head, Regional Service Centre Manager, Branch Manager in Malelane and to the position she currently holds as Highveld Regional, Personal and Business Banking Manager.
“When I work with people I feel great!” she chuckles. She goes on to talk about her team in Malelane with full of passion and energy, a small town near the Kruger National Park in the north-east of South Africa.
“What we achieved is what I’m most proud of: we came up with a campaign that’s gone national and we had fun!”
She describes Malelane as a farming area where farmers employ casual workers from Swaziland and Mozambique for seasonal work. They’re paid by cheque, it’s difficult for them to open accounts, so by 7.15am on payday there’s already a queue of 100-150 people outside with cheques in hand ready to be cashed.
“We decided to meet them outside the bank - with the right attitude from the outset. Our service actually began there so we put on our takkies to be fit on our feet, bring fun and energy and to organise them in three queues outside.”
“We got amazing feedback. Customers felt they we were literally reaching out to them, showing them respect, caring for them.”
Soon, even the back office staff got out from behind their desks in takkies. They all got excited about 'Takkie Friday' before the day came round and asked whether they could wear takkies everyday!”
Maggie’s passionate about living the first line item in the service one-pager that reads: “I am Standard Bank. We have to live service and show enthusiasm and energy to make Standard Bank number 1”.
“It’s the priority right now, to make service our main driver and differentiator. To me, we must never forget first and foremost, we’re a service industry. Customers buy our service before our products. With service, sales will follow, not the other way around,” she emphasizes.
“If you bring your part to the bank, it will bring its part to you.” She enthuses. “It’s simple, it’s your customer, you own their happiness by providing what he or she really needs.”
Maggie has a passionate belief in taking responsibility for your customer’s needs, keeping them informed, staying calm and so on.
Maggie confesses that she used to sometimes wish she’d had the opportunity to do an MBA but then told herself: “But wait, I’m a people’s person, that’s my strength, it’s never let me down - let me use that to make my way!”
And so she has.