Phony friends

I passed a billboard last night for a local bank that had a headline of something along the lines of “If we don’t call you by name, ask for Abe.” with a giant picture of Abraham Lincoln’s face on a five-dollar bill. It had a subhead of something like, “many banks claim they offer great service, but we actually back it up.”

Well, that might seem fine and dandy and reasonable. If they don’t call you by name, you get a $5 bill. But I think it sucks. I hate it. I think it’s truly awful. Why?

When was the last time you paid off your friend? When was the last time you said to your friend, “you know, I’m really sorry I arrived 15 minutes later than I said would; here’s ten bucks.” I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t like to keep a friend who equated everything to money. I think there’s a lot more to friendship than simply paying someone off when a mistake is made.

The bottom line: this campaign is nothing but phony. And phoniness is not a good business strategy. I don’t want my bank to pretend to be my friend by calling me by name. If a teller or branch manager happens to call me by name, that’s fine. But I HATE it when it’s forced.

AND here’s the other sad thing about this story… I actually have my business account with this bank… and I’m sick and tired of their lame, old-fashioned policies… this bank continually treats me like a suspect, not a prospect. And because of their stuck-in-the-mud policies, which I’ve run up against time after time, I am planning to switch to another bank. And no, I’m not switching to a credit union. The only credit union which has a branch somewhat near me (and it’s actually relatively quite far), has recently begun to offer business accounts. BUT a colleague of mine tried to refinance his mortgage there… and received incompetent service about it. So why would I move my business account to a credit union which is incompetent at refinancing a mortgage? The answer is: I will not. Even though I would LOVE to move my business to a credit union. After all, that is who my company serves, and I would love to return the favor.

So this bank needs to stop trying to force their employees to call their customers by name and needs to focus on ways to bring their institution into the twenty-first century. There are several lessons to be learned here by all financial institutions!

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