Do Customers Really Matter?

If your company sells anything, than you have customers.  Yet just because you technically have customers does not mean that your policies are created with the customer in mind.  Of course if you really think the customer matters to your success, your policies do take into consideration what will happen to the customer, but what happens if customers really don’t matter?

I’ve supported the banking industry for years, and the focus for every bank has been on the customer experience.  Well up until recently when I discovered a bank that really doesn’t see the customer experience the same way as every other bank.  This could be a good thing if they are doing things to improve the service level over the competition, but they are doing just the opposite.

I didn’t choose this bank, but rather I became a customer because they purchased the bank I was doing business with and my alternative was and still is to move my relationships to another institution.  While I still have a couple of accounts, 90% of my relationship is now with the competition, because as a customer I don’t feel wanted anymore.

This bank has set out to prove that they can establish policies and procedures that make them happy regardless of how it impacts the customer.  Initially I gave credit for a lot of the screw ups to merger related errors, but the mistakes kept coming.

Day 1 I had no online access to any of my accounts, and a week later I did, but now my wife didn’t.  Then one of my accounts was literally transferred to my mother and sister with a title change and address change.  Oddly, the account was a business account that was turned into a personal joint account.  Thankfully Mom told me it happened when the statement arrived at her house.  A friend found out that their ex-spouse was given access to her account online, and another was losing money out of his account because the bank had linked it to a stranger’s debit card.  A lot of errors, but still, could be all corrected.  Yet through it all, not a single apology.

The culture of the bank is a sterile branch environment, so everything but the desks and chairs were removed.  I walked into the branch after the merger and thought they were using it as an operating room.  Cold and uninviting, and when the holidays came around, not a single decoration.  It didn’t matter what the customer wanted, they would just have to conform to the culture.  The final straw was the removal of long-term employees, that had been transferred to different branches.  Numerous branches now have new employees, and once again I was told it didn’t matter what I thought.

So since I no longer matter, neither do they matter to me.  I began shopping the competition, and found every single local alternative bank more welcoming.  Some better, but none worse, so it was easy to find a better home.

The learning point is that if you need customers, you need to conform to their needs and not expect them to put up with your needs.  Not when there are alternatives, and never when they are treated like garbage.


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