Banking on Service

I recently went to a local Chase branch to close an account. There were four key events that turned this fairly routine transaction at the bank into a great example of how customer service can go wrong!

    1. The line (as usual) was at least 8-10 deep for the teller windows (there were only four windows open). Approximately 10 minutes into my wait, a staff person came by asking everyone what kind of business we had. When I stated that I was closing an account, she directed me to the “personal bankers”.Possible fix:On the positive side, someone did come out and check to ensure that people waiting in line were in fact, in the right line. Unfortunately for me, this came after a 10 minute wait in line. Ideally someone would be checking to make sure you are in the right line when you get into the line – not later. However, for those times when they are not able to do that task, post a sign with some of the more common issues, (i.e.-For opening/closing accounts-please sign in with a personal banker; for single non-cash transactions please go to teller 6, etc.).  Ideally, have a person greeting customers as they join the line. It aggravates individuals when they wait in one line unnecessarily then have to wait in another.(Service Principles 2, 8, 9)
    2. One of the things I’ve never understood about banks, and Chase is not the only one, is why they don’t stagger lunches so they can handle the vast majority of customers who come in between 11:30 and 1:30? I’m sure that some do. They must, right? Yet it never fails, as happened during my experience, that you’re waiting and teller windows close and personal bankers leave. I’ll bet it’s happened to you too.Possible fix: This fix isn’t really too difficult. Stagger lunches so personal bankers are available during the busiest times of the day, likewise with tellers. Or perhaps have teller supervisors open a window during the busiest times. Employees could be offered flex hours which allow for them to start/leave earlier so as to take a non-standard lunch hour.(Service Principles 1, 7, 8, 9)
    3. I signed in at 12:24 with 3 other people in front of me and about 4-5 personal bankers working at their desks with customers. By the time I was called up…about 50 minutes later (I’m being generous), there were only 2 working and 1 had been working with a customer for over ½ hour. I spent about 3 minutes with the banker while he filled out a withdrawal slip after looking up my account. I signed the form and was asked to wait again. It took another 20 minutes for a teller to come and find me.Possible fix: The personal bankers had to have realized there were people waiting a long time. Someone should have been alerted to stop by and offer coffee, cookies, or maybe even a $5 Starbucks gift card . . . SOMETHING to make the customers waiting feel they are valued and that their patience while waiting a long time is recognized and appreciated.(Service Principles 1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  1. The next thing was mind boggling: The teller went over to the personal banker who pointed to me in the waiting area. She came over and expected me to count +$3K in cash in front of other people? It was in a zippered pouch, so I went to a vacant chair and tried to discretely count it while leaving it in the pouch. Once I verified it, of course, I couldn’t take the pouch so we had to walk to the personal banker for an envelope to put it in. Unbelievable! Luckily I was going to a bank around the corner…but believe me when I say I ran there. Possible Fix: Bank employees should be discrete when talking to customers about receiving cash. Also, a provision should be made if someone else is finishing a transaction such as my case, where some measure of privacy can be established. The fact I had to count my money in the relative open and then transfer it to an envelope as well is unthinkable in a bank!Also, I have to wonder that since a teller has to get involved anyway, why isn’t this a simple window transaction? Have the duty manager approve the closure, and any counting of funds. The involvement of a personal banker was unnecessary.(Service Principles 1, 8, 9)
  2. Another thing is, while I was waiting, another customer came and sat and talked non-stop for about 15-20 minutes of my wait. She complained the whole time about why she had to follow their rules about getting a check cashed. She asked the security guard for a manager. He never brought one after telling her it would all work out and to be patient. Next, a teller returning from lunch walked by and was also stopped by the lady. She tried to explain their check cashing policy but the woman wasn’t having it. So, she said she’d get a manager…. luckily I didn’t have to wait for that conversation. Now, mind you, the woman was so loud she could be heard by at least one personal banker. Possible Fix: The loud customer should be handled as soon as possible with a call to a manager. Should a manager be immediately unavailable, then a personal banker should try to establish that person in a less “busy” area after being told a manager has been summoned. If a manager is not on the premises, then the bank has some other organizational issues that should be addressed.Loud customers often achieve their objective, which is to rattle the service provider and to be addressed immediately, by being loud. It would be rude and unfair to other waiting customers to address the loud customer’s issues out of turn. But perhaps by placing a quick phone call for a manager and showing the loud customer to a separate desk or waiting area, that person could be mollified until “help” arrives. What’s important to identify is whether this is indeed a “wronged” customer, or a bad one.(Service Principles 1, 2, 4, 5, 6)

I realize there could have been a confluence of events that made this a particularly bad experience. Perhaps all the transactions that were coming in at that particular time were difficult and time consuming. Unfortunately it is not the first time I’ve seen a problem at this bank, and it would seem to indicate there is more of an organizational problem that needs to be addressed. In the end, we want the customer experience to be positive, and this one was not. Not for me, and not for the others who were waiting for attention.

Obviously banks are in a different “service” oriented business. They have strict laws and protocols to follow which do determine how certain transactions are handled. However, within those parameters, action can be taken to make the process more customer friendly.

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