I needed to get something notarized for work. I don’t know much about notarizing things, but from what I can tell, a notary public watches people sign documents to verify that the real person matches the signature.
I was told that I could go to any bank and they’d notarize the document for me. I was already running another errand for work and decided to pick up Slurpees for my coworkers on the way back, so I looked for banks in the area and found one: PNC Bank.
I have no relationship with PNC, nor does my work. I’m sure they’re a very nice bank and have many satisfied customers. But I was a little surprised by what happened there because I was not a customer.
I walked in, asked if they could notarize a document for me, and they said sure. I was ushered to an available notary public.
Before I could make it into the office, the person who greeted me asked, “You’re a PNC customer, right?”
I said, “Oh, no I’m not. Do I need to be to get this notarized?”
They replied that I did. I asked if I could pay to have the document notarized (I’d never done this, so I didn’t know if it was customary to pay. I had three crisp $1 bills in the elastic of my boxer briefs ready for them. That’s where I keep all my cash), but they said no.
I thanked them, apologized for the inconvenience, and left.
A little while later, I went to a bank (Commerce Bank) that my work does have a relationship with, asked for a notary, and within two minutes the document was notarized. They never asked if I had an account there, but I volunteered the information as I signed the document. But they clearly didn’t care. The notary public didn’t verify the account on his computer–he just watched me sign the document, stamped the document, and then asked if I wanted a personal account at Commerce. I said no thank you, shook his hand, and left.
I truly have nothing against PNC Bank, nor will I hold this against them. But it did surprise me a bit, especially after I saw how easy it was for Commerce to notarize the document. What did PNC have to lose by notarizing a non-customer’s document? 2-3 minutes, max. And sure, that could accumulate throughout the day, but it’s not like the floodgates were going to open and people were going to pour through the doors demanding notaries.
The guy at Commerce said something interesting near the end of my time there. This was after I told him that I already had accounts with two other banks. He said, “I bet you don’t even step foot in banks anymore.”
I didn’t even have to think about it. “This is the first time I’ve been in a bank in years.”
In a world dominated by web access for pretty much everything, brick-and-mortar businesses have so few chances to make a personal, face-to-face impression on people. Especially banks. Everyone banks online, pays bills online, and if they need cash or need to deposit a check, they go to the ATM. We view banks as computers, not people.
So when someone walks into your bank because they need the one thing they can’t get online, don’t turn them away. Especially if they’re not an existing customer. That’s your one chance to make a personal connection. Don’t blow it.
Do you have any similar stories? I’m not really looking for complaints about businesses, and I hope that’s not how you interpret this post. We do enough complaining. Rather, do you have a story that shows a rare example of a time when you actually needed to show up in person at a business and you walked away feeling like a connection had been made?