I really wish I made this stuff up.My bank — let’s call them Walk-all-over-ya sent me a notice that the fee to access online banking via Quicken was going from free to $5.95/month. Since this is not a service I use, I ignored said notice. I do, however, check my bank statement, and sure enough, I’ve got a $5.95 fee attached to this month’s statement.I make a visit to my local branch in-between appointments this afternoon. I’ve probably had to visit this branch a dozen times in the last few years for similar reasons. I can’t even make the service desk and a young lady (I remember when these people used to be “old ladies”) met me with more exuberance than a bank could possibly offer. I explain briefly the purpose of my visit and she says, “Let’s see if we can find someone to help you.” I think, but do not say, “Well, if you can’t, I’d expect you have some people to fire.” I take a seat while she pokes her head in one of the glass cubes and presently tells me that Dale will be seeing me. Which is redundant, because Dale is literally on her heels and already seeing me.I explain — again — the purpose of my visit and Dale says, “We can’t handle that here. You’ll need to call our 1-800 service line to handle that.” Dale is pale — I’m thinking he has the flu or something — so I go easy on him. But I can’t pass up the opportunity to ask, “This IS a Walk-all-over-ya branch, isn’t it?” He looks confused and nods, but tells me the same exact sentence again, while motioning to his beautiful business card he has given me, complete with the 1-800 / 24-hour number highlighted. Sarcasm is not something Dale does well, but he thinks he has helped me, so I depart. My thoughts on the ride home were filled with amazement at my experience in relationship banking.As soon as I get home, I called the 1-800 number. A cheerful computer voice leads me through identifying my 13 digit account number and SSN where she/it announces I am verified. A bunch of useless menus later, she apologizes twice for misunderstanding my voice command, and I finally pound zero to get an operator, which I got after only a minute. A very nice lady Kathy requires my account number, which I give her, and when I interject the reason for my call, she quickly informs me that she must transfer me to the online banking department — she “”doesn’t do that”. I now get Cindy, who needs to verify my account number (!) and some transaction amount. I am looking at my online statment and confirm my water bill on September 17th. She says with elation, “Now we just need one more form of verification!” Computer lady already verified me, live lady #1 didn’t need to know, but live lady #2 needs more. She asks, “What year did you start banking with us?” I opened an account some 25 years ago with the bank that merged with another bank that was bought by this bank before it merged with another bank. I explain that and she says, “Well, what year did you start with US?” At this point, I’m laughing, only because I don’t wish to cry in front of this poor woman and I have no idea who US is. She tells me to guess. I tell her that’s stupid, because I’m bound to be wrong and she’ll hang up on me. She then says I need to give her a year within two years of the correct answer or we can’t continue. She does say I get multiple guesses. Their commitment to security is admirable. I guess 2002, thinking it must be post-marriage and pre-quit-the-corporate-world, and that gives me a four-year buffer where I’ve got be close. Cindy is so excited — apparently I hit it on the head and am now not trying to scam her, where moments ago she was about to report me to the FDIC. She explains that they now charge $5.95 a month for the service I don’t use and don’t want but used to get for free. She politely asks if I want to discontinue it. I could have sworn we’d already covered this. Yes. “Would you please hold?” She finally comes back and gleefully announces that I am no longer signed up for the service I don’t use, didn’t want, and used to get for free. Awkward silence. “And I’d like to have the $5.95 for this month refunded.” She bursts out (but apparently was not going to offer), “We’d be happy to do that!” I hear keys typing and she says it’ll be posted soon. We then go through about a half dozen things that I don’t want or need, like the free-for-a-year (thereafter $300/year) 4.5% savings account, the kids’ checking account (already have at another — competent — bank), a refinance (did that two weeks ago), and a decline for insurance quotes. We share a laugh — I think mine is from nervousness — and I’m asked if I’d agree that she solved my problem completely today (hinting that I’ll get a follow-up survey — I’ve done this before). I resist the urge to tell her she’s created a few and give her my blog address.By the way, what year do they start counting their 8 years in a row (logo above)? They ceased to exist two years ago when they were bought out, and apparently 8 years ago was when they merged with the former bank. Interesting.This isn’t hard. Rule #1 is so stinkin’ easy. Undercover Boss (never watched it, but it sounds good) would go ballistic if treated like this.
Make interaction easy on the customer.
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I would be willing to guess that this blog entry wouldn’t exist if each person at Wachovia replaced “I can’t help you,” or “I don’t do that” with “I can help get you to the right person.” We’ve come to expect and tolerate a certain level of incompetence and insanity in our daily lives. We have yet to build up that same tolerance for rudeness.One of our unique capabilities as humans is to endure great hardship as long as we feel an end to the hardship will eventually come. Endless and unhelpful phone menus followed up by human voices that say no don’t provide that required sense that this customer service hardship will ever end, even if the net time taken is the same as a moderately aware human who assures us that they can help and even if that requires several additional transfers to other humans who also assure us that help is on the way. It’s all in how you say it.
I completely agree on both issues.Which begs the question — why aren’t bank personnel trained to say just that?
I just had that same helpful conversation with another bank that recently merged. I used to be able to call, provide 4 pieces of identifying information, and I got to pass go and well (not collect $200)…this time – I was passed to the brown-call group, the orange-call group and then asked to provide the same information again…ugh! I wasn’t laughing in the end. It used to take me no more than 5-8 minutes tops to make that call before the merger – and now with the automated teller sending me to the different call centers and the verification process 100 ways until Sunday – it took me over 20 minutes and left me frustated…. It truly is hard to keep your sensibility during these calls. 🙂