This morning, I travelled 25 miles to and from Reading specifically to meet with a Business manager from firstly the bank that I currently bank with, and secondly another bank that I am looking at in comparison. Why you might ask did I travel that far to have this meeting? The simple answer is that the branch where I bank, which is 12 miles away does not have a business manager. Having tried to discuss the points by phone, it was agreed that I should come into Reading and meet with the one and only business manager for what appears to be the Berkshire area.
This is an account of two experiences in two different banks on the same morning.
Bank No. 1 where I have banked for more than 20 years. The Business Manager who met me, based on the appointment made, was under the impression that I wanted to open an account. Clearly the message of why I wanted to meet was not relayed. Having corrected her on this topic, and explained why I was there, she immediately stood up and said that she would invite her senior, more experienced colleague to join and answer my numerous questions.
The more experienced colleague started with the phrase “So what is your problem that I can help you with?” Sadly, this question lacked my name in the first address. Sincerely, if I personally had a problem, I would not be talking to a bank representative? Again I repeated the issues that I would like to gain advice on, as well as to find some kind of solution. The lady concerned turned to the rate sheet and began to demonstrate the charges involved in what actually is a very simple transaction. To this, I explained “I know what the rates are, I am looking for a solution to this situation because for this simple transaction, it is costing me about 12% each time!”
Sadly, the lady both missed my need for help and secondly ignored my frustration, which was evident from the lack of interest she showed in trying to find solutions that might mitigate some of the cost. Instead, “Well you know we do not fix the rates!” she exclaimed. With that I understood that my plight was neither important nor of any concern to this person, and perhaps to the company as a whole. What’s one customer? I tried one more time by saying “You are looking at a very unhappy customer,” in the hope that this might spur her to explore options and recognise me as an individual and a customer, rather than a number and a statistic. Why you might ask?
Bank No. 2 Just down the road a few hundred metres on the same high street is a competitor bank where I had also arranged a meeting, which had been re- confirmed with me that morning. This experience was so different it was a joy, despite not being 100% satisfactory due to my requirements. The business manager knew in general what I was coming for, offered me a drink and then proceeded to build rapport with me before going into the details of opening an account. She took time to understand my needs and whilst unable to answer some of the questions arranged a meeting for me with the relevant person.
In this bank, I watched with interest and focus on how other customers were being treated. Each time the customer was given attention, interest and appropriately directed, or questions answered on the spot. When the queue got more than 3 people waiting someone came out from an office and helped manage the enquiries. It was a well-oiled team with customers at heart.
How can two experiences with practically the same goal, be so different? We cannot attribute this to differing weather patterns, Brexit or any other reason. The end of this story is left to you the reader. I know what I have done to ensure the bank I work with shares common values of respect, ownership, flexibility and simple old fashioned regard for me as a customer.