Why I Fired My Bank and Chose a New One

This article was first published on the FCR blog on June 5, 2017. Click here to read the original.

I’ve had an on again, off again sort of relationship with my bank over the past 15 or so years. For the typical day to day stuff they’ve been good. The moment something goes wrong, however, I’ve been seemingly left in the cold with no way to access my money for weeks at a time and no one to contact. That’s a problem.

After a recent incident where our account was compromised, we finally decided that enough was enough and switched banks. I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a few minutes to unpack some of the lessons gained from this experience. Here goes.

In the good times…and the bad

When we discovered that our account had been compromised, I called support to shut down our account and create a new one. After a 30+ minute wait, a rep took action and closed our account. She said the new account would be up in a couple days. That turned into at least a week and then it took another three weeks to get our new checks. In these instances, expectations went unmet and multiple emails unanswered.

This isn’t the first time this has happened with my bank, either. I vented about this a few years ago. In both cases I eventually spoke with a supervisor. The first time, they gave me confidence that they were making improvements to their system. This time, however, I got a “sorry” and not a whole lot else.

The fact that my account was compromised was not the bank’s fault, but it was certainly a missed opportunity where they could have won me over with great customer service.

Lesson: The truest test of your customer service is how you perform when things go wrong for the customer.

Customers using the service is priority #1

The other thing I didn’t realize when making this swap was that it takes a while to switch over direct deposit. Depositing my paycheck the old fashioned way, I realized I had to wait a week before I could use my paycheck. On top of that, my bank had a bug in their system where they doubled the hold on my account for those funds. This amounted to two full weekends where our bank account was completely useless.

What good is any service if you can’t reliably use it? Remember, I was a customer for 15 years. My loyalty should count for something, right?

Lesson: Your top priority should always be to fix issues where customers are unable to use your service.

Are you listening to customer feedback?

I was actually a little amused when I received a feedback survey from my bank after weeks of frustration. As I thought about whether or not I’d leave feedback I considered the fact that I really, really didn’t want to go through the hassle of switching banks. Seriously, who wants to deal with that? If my feedback could help my bank improve my experiences moving forward, I’d definitely consider it a win.

I completed the survey and really let ‘em have it. Those that know me know that even when I’m mad I’m still fairly nice, so take “let ‘em have it” with a grain of salt. That being said, they haven’t responded to date which begs a few questions:

  • Did my feedback fall on deaf ears?
  • Did they read my feedback?
  • Did they read my feedback and do something about it but not close the loop with me?
  • Did they read my feedback and wave it off as “this is just how it is” or “this is someone else’s fault”?

Lesson: If you ask for customer feedback, do the right thing and close the loop. Otherwise, don’t waste their time by asking.

Are you listening to customer feedback on social media?

After making the decision to switch banks, I asked my network on Facebook for recommendations. One bank emerged as the clear winner. Rather than going to Yelp or another review site, I decided to compare my new bank with my old bank on Twitter. This required a little bit of skill. If you go to the bank’s page on Twitter, you’ll only see what they want you to see. To really get insight, enter their Twitter handle into the search box and go to the “Latest” section. From there you’ll see every time their handle gets mentioned.

Comparing the two banks it was a night and day difference. While both banks had the usual marketing messages, my new bank had a slew of positive comments from customers and regularly interacted with them. My old bank on the other hand primarily had negative comments and not a single response. Clearly they were talking but not listening.

Lesson: Listening and responding to customers on social media is no longer optional for successful organizations.

This is a great segue into my new bank. The experience I observed on Twitter has held true thus far. Customer service has been extremely responsive and I’m hopeful for a better banking experience moving forward. I once heard someone describe customer service as the safety net when something goes wrong in the customer experience. As a customer, it’s the companies that consistently make it right when things go wrong that get my business.

Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Experience at FCR, the premiere provider of outsourced call center and business process solutions. He has more than 17 years of experience as a customer service and experience professional. He is co-founder of the Customer Service Life blog and a regular contributor. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

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