The Medici family was the richest family in Italy in the 15th and 16th centuries. Based in Florence, their banks (one of the first branch banking systems in history) loaned money to kings and rulers throughout Europe. They were to Europe what John Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie or J.P. Morgan was to the U.S. The Medici family was as powerful as it was generous. The powerful family (especially Lorenzo de Medici) was patrons of the arts and funded famous artists like Michelangelo, Leonardo de Vinci, and Sandro Botticelli.
When you visit the Medici mansion in Florence (Palasso Medici Riccardi) built between 1444 and 1484, you might witness two features the average tourist could miss—a granite bench outside the mansion for patrons to rest before entering the “bank,” and rings along the side of the mansion (a.k.a., bank) to hitch their horses. Think about it. A banker serving customers 50 years before Christopher Columbus came to the U.S was already thinking through the lens of his customers.
Great service starts with a focus on the customer, not on the “opulence of status or elegance of station.” Service is about “other” not “self.” It means subjugating our desires for our customers needs. Customers expect you to be profitable. The Medici’s were wise bankers who profited from wisdom, not ruse. The citizens of Florence called Lorenzo “The Magnificent”. But, customers also expect deference to their hopes rather than sole allegiance to your desires.
It means starting with what matters most to those we serve and building our enterprise and practices from there. It means making sure all customers, no matter their worth to our bottom line, has a “bench to on which to sit and a ring to secure their horse!”