Your Customer! Your Problem!

homedepotMy latest fun customer experience is brought to you courtesy of my bank.  Ten days ago I received an email that I only sort of read, indicating that my debit card was at risk due to a recent breach in Home Depot’s system.  Kudos to my bank for taking proactive measures to ensure that my money was safe.  Shame on me for not reading my email in full.  It wasn’t until my wife called me from the cash register at a store to tell me our debit card was being declined, that I realized there was a problem.

I proceeded to call the bank and they indicated that there was absolutely nothing they could do until I received my new debit cards in the mail.  This would take 7-10 days!  When I canceled all of my credit cards a year ago, I failed to consider how difficult it is to get around in this economy without plastic.  Yes you can pay many places with a check, but personal favorites like RedBox simply cannot be used without a credit card.

Getting cash is even trickier without an ATM card.  I bank with one of those new fangled Internet banks, so the concept of a physical branch is out of the question.  After walking into a check cashing store and seeing their steep 5% fee, I walked out and instead wrote a couple checks to my parents in exchange for some cash.  Keeping it all in perspective, this is an inconvenience, not a real problem.

With all of this in mind, I emailed my bank to explain the hardship this has caused and asked if there was anything they could do to help.  Their initial response was a canned response that, in not so many words, told me to wait 7-10 days.  I then responded telling them that I deserved more than a canned response.  I needed them to work with me as the customer to find a solution.  Their next response indicated that the debit cards are sent from another company.  They could put a rush on the order for a whopping $35!  Ugh!  I give up.

My bank has done a fantastic job of not understanding their responsibility in this situation–and I suspect many companies are in this boat.

Whose fault is the security breach?  Home Depot’s of course.

Whose fault is it that I don’t have an alternate method of payment?  Mine of course.

Whose fault is it that it takes 7-10 days to receive a new debit card?  The credit card printing people of course.

Do you see what I’m getting at here?  My bank hasn’t done anything wrong!  In fact, they did something right in taking proactive action to ensure that my money wasn’t stolen.  So why am I looking for a new bank?  My bank has failed to realize that while none of this is their fault, I am their customer.  Home Depot and the debit card company cannot fix my problem and give me access to my money–but the bank can!

At the end of the day, companies that take ownership of the problem, regardless of whose fault it is, win the customer!

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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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