State Bank And Trust Pays It Forward

This past Friday I saw a very inspiring news report about State Bank and Trust in Fargo, N.D. In what it called the “Pay It Forward Challenge,” the bank gave each of its 500+ employees $1,000. The only stipulation, according State Bank’s chief operating officer Michael Solberg, was as follows:

There were three rules. You can’t give it to your family. You can’t give it to a co-worker. And you have to document your good deed. Other than that, the sky’s the limit.

The bank also gave every employee a video camera to document their gift.

When employees were asked what they hate about working at the bank, here were some of their responses:

  • What do I hate about management? They’re just too nice!”
  •  “I haven’t found anything yet.”
  • I have to go home.”

Why is this important for customer experience? According to COO Solberg:

That’s our mission statement: happy employees, happy customer.

My take: State Bank highlights a critical concept: Customer-centric DNA starts with employees.

The bottom line: Don’t you want to do business with a bank like State Bank?

Written by 

I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (, a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

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