Linda Verba knows a lot about keeping people happy. The head of TD Bank's retail operations has been creating groundbreaking customer-service and employee-reward strategies for more than a decade.

Known internally as the "voice of the customer," Verba is credited with bringing in the bank's popular "Penny Arcade" free coin-counting machines.

She also spearheads its "Spirit of Wow" initiative, which aims to thrill customers daily and encourages employees to do so with incentives ranging from stickers to all-inclusive trips for two to luxury resorts.

Her efforts have been paying off. In 2009 J.D. Power and Associates named TD highest in customer satisfaction for retail banks in the Mid-Atlantic region for the fourth year in a row.

Verba isn't afraid to take the blame when things go wrong either. She spent the better part of last fall on a public-apology campaign.

TD had an embarrassing technology glitch when combining its systems with those of the former Commerce Bancorp. For more than a week, the posting of some direct deposits were delayed, interrupting customers' access to their accounts.

"Any merger and acquisition, no matter how well orchestrated, is time-consuming and has the ability to suck the life out of you if you let it," she says.

Verba didn't let it.Her philosophy that "to recover is divine" led her to spearhead an initiative where any TD customer who experienced a negative impact as a result of the bank's flubbed systems integration received $25 in a deposit or gift card as a gesture of goodwill.

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