Tuesday, June 7, 2011

How I Know My Bank Doesn't Care

At my youthful age of 26, I have closed three bank accounts out of frustration, anger, or flat-out indifference. I learned long ago on that my bank doesn't care about me; at least not to the degree that June Gregg's bank cares for her. Gregg, a 100-year-old woman from Chillicothe, Ohio, has had the same savings account since her birth, when her father opened it for her and deposited $6.11. Without question, Gregg's story says a lot about her brand loyalty to her bank; she's also been very blessed to live a long enough life to accomplish such an interesting feat. Yet, I cannot help but wonder if there is a marketing lesson somewhere within our very different banking habits.

After reflecting on our stories, I think that lesson to learn is that banks don't care about people. They're inherently incapable of it. Every single one. In fact, every corporation is. The reason for this? They actually cannot because they don't really exist. But what does exist are a group of people, the actual guts of a corporation, who are very capable of caring. Not surprisingly, I couldn't give you the name of one person at my bank; however I'd bet that June Gregg could if asked. They cared.

Only real humans are capable of being accountable and working hard to deliver happiness to their customers while getting the most out of their jobs. But, if it sounds so easy, why doesn't everyone love their bank or their financial planner or their mechanic like June does her bank?

I think the reason it's difficult for workers to be caring is because we often don't work like humans should. Punch that clock and we sometimes become a different species. I think it comes from a combination of settling for less and being forced to at the same time. Some "people inc." settle into a pattern of manuals, standard protocols, hierarchies, timesheets, departments, seminars, passwords, fineprint, efficiency methods, and logistical processes, thus making life way more difficult than they need to be and also less enjoyable.

For a brand to actually care, it must hire people that do. Even harder, it must let them behave, and subsequently care, as a human would.

This post also appeared on Talent Zoo Media's Beneath the Brand blog. Also, please enjoy some bonus bank brand content below. It's an alexander-branding.com exclusive!

Without question, my nearly four-year "relationship" with Chase bank has included some tumultuous moments. They main reason I haven't left them is probably that I'm close to indifferent at this point. I guess I like them enough to keep them around because their is a branch close to my house.

Regardless, I recently read an article that demonstrates the degree to which Chase is out of touch with their consumers. In an article published on AdAge.com, the CEO of Chase's consumer bank Ryan McInerney said of their new title sponsorship with Madison Square Garden, "This whole partnership is really about our customers," and he added that a goal of Chase bank is to "continuing to provide our customers preferred access to events and unique experiences."

Really, "access to events" is a goal of my bank? Okay, I refuse to actually believe that access to events at MSG is a mission of Chase bank. However, I do think the ridiculousness of that quote makes a strong statement about the real value of a sponsorship and naming rights as part of their marketing mix. Is that really the only thing that the CEO can muster about it's value to the brand for industry trade news? Well, people seem to like it, so we don't mind writing the huge check and hanging our name on everything. Does that really make people better of Chase?

Please use the comments section to actually tell these banks what they could really do to make you happier or how they could connect with a customer better?


yankeeKilla23 said...

You know how they could connect to the customer more? Have someone call me every so often just to check in with me and see how things were going. And not one of those monotone, I'm trying as hard as I can to get off the phone as quickly as possible phone calls either. I mean, maybe once a quarter, have someone who's been assigned to just a certain amount of customers, preferably who works in the same community or city, call me up and ask me how things are going and if there was anything they could do to make my banking experience better. Something that simple, but yet personal can go a long way. I mean I'm doing them a favor by loaning them my money right? The least they could do is take the time to know who I was besides just an account number.....

Alexander said...

That's a good idea. Obviously, I that type of communication is very personal and would help them with relationship building.

Of course, the big hurdle is how do you call that many people. However, I think there are some ways to get around that a bit. They could make that a customer opt-in service. So, when someone goes to their bank, they just ask the customer, hey would you like us to keep you informed via telephone what is going on here.

And by asking only the people who physically walk into the bank, they are reaching out to those customers who are identifying themselves as desiring some form of personal connection.

Further, a phone call can leave an really great impression but, if done in a personal manner, can also be a great sales opportunity. For instance, what if your bank just called you because they noticed you turned 25 and wanted to discuss how to save for retirement.

The bank has always been a bottom line, dollars and cents place. Yet, which deals with human emotions, thoughts and perceptions, is rarely if ever that kind of cut and dry practice. Such large disconnect has left them with giving a severe problem.