If you asked our customers if the image they have of a BBVA branch manager is a biker with a Harley, very few would say yes. Unless, of course, they know Cristián Saavedra.
Cristián lives in Concepción, Chile, a little more than 300 miles south of the capital, Santiago. It’s an ideal location, just 15 minutes from the ocean and close to large lakes. He likes to tour the area on his Harley-Davidson. However, he isn’t a speed demon. In fact, one of his goals when he goes riding is to “come back home safe and sound, have a good time, and see as many places as I can.”
His bike isn’t just for roaring down the highway, though; it’s also a major means of transportation. “I usually ride my bike to the office in the summer,” he says. When asked if it helps him earn customers, he laughs and says: “At the very least, they take a picture with it.”
His motorcycle is no laughing matter for Cristián, though. “You have to prepare a lot before you hit the road with your hog. Not just because of the route you’ll take, but also for safety reasons such as checking the motor, looking at the places you’re going to visit, deciding where you’re going to stay the night, where you can find gas. ... You have to plan properly to make sure everything runs smoothly.” He points out how this relates to the work he does at BBVA. “It’s a lot like my job. You can’t improvise. You have to devise plans and think how to achieve the best outcome and consider what the consequences are.”
He also uses his time on the road to talk up BBVA. “We can never pass up the opportunity to show people how well the bank does things,” he says, adding that the relationships he forges with other bikers gives him a better idea about their needs.
Perhaps it’s that desire to know his customers better – both current and potentialones – that has made his branch so well known for its service. “In the four years I’ve been here, we have been rated the best in terms service quality for 12 quarters,” he says. “Tackling problems with an upbeat attitude is what generates empathy with customers.
"We can never pass up the opportunity to show people how well the bank does things
That’s why we’ve received such high scores.”He thinks the key is consistency. “Everything starts with internal service quality. If I don’t have that same positive attitude with my team every day, it would be impossible for my team to convey that to our customers.”
He believes the path BBVA has taken has created new business opportunities. “The bank has undergone many changes, many overhauls. We have seen this in technology, but also in customer service, and the impact on results has been very positive.”
Name: Cristián Saavedra
Position: Regional Manager Northem BBVA Chile
Function: Putting together teams that achieve good results through empathy and team work
Hobby: Motorcycling [Harley Davidson]
Dream: To see my children healthy, with their lives on track and meet my grandchildren
The importance of teamwork
It is very important for Cristián to surround himself with people he trusts, both when riding and at the office. “If you don’t think the people you ride with really have your back in the event of an accident, you would be a lot more nervous when you are out on the road. That happens at the bank, too. It’s impossible to do the work by yourself. You need a team that shares certain values and supports you in ways that are hard to explain sometimes.”
He knows this all too well: he suffered an accident in January. “There was some oily sand on the pavement,” he says. “I broke my hand and hurt my leg.”
"It's impossible to do the work by yourself, you need a team
He looks at it as a learning experience. “It’s a chance to consider all the possible consequences for my family in the future, and take a more clear-eyed approach to things. That also happens in the bank. Sometimes you can see that a transaction with a customer is a little murky . We have to be able to visualize the consequences of that.”
Cristián looks at the two ponds outside his window. He dreams of “crossing the Andes to visit Mendoza. It’s probably around 1,250 miles away from here,” he says. “I’m not obsessed with going fast, but feeling free and visiting places surrounded by nature.”