You think like a complete banker

Last week I found someone’s cashcard on the street. It was from one of the ‘traditional’ High Street banks. It was a horrible day with rain coming down by the bucket load in central London. I was looking like a Tesco Value Mr Darcy from THAT scene in Pride and Prejudice. A bit.

I thought it would be a nice thing to do to reunite the lost card with its owner – I imagine they were having a far worse day than me as losing access to your money is hugely stressful, especially if you don’t know if it has been lost or stolen.

Before becoming freelance I worked for Metro Bank for a short time – I’m declaring that up front as it might explain why I was so baffled by what happened next. If you worked at Metro Bank you had an amazing service ethic – you didn’t need it drilled into you (we hired for that) but we refined it until you always wanted to do the best for the customer.

This is what happened…

I walked to the nearest bank (I was comedically wet by this point) and eventually spoke to an assistant. I explained that whilst the card didn’t belong to one of their customers it would be great if they could reunite the owner and card. 

They explained to me that the nearest branch of the other bank was a 15 minute walk in the other direction and pointed me back into the torrential rain. Since I didn’t have 15 minutes to spare this wasn’t an option I could take. I won’t name the bank involved, but let’s say it rhymed with Snarkleys.

As I didn’t have time to spare I thought I’d call into a bank on the way back (where I did have an account) and see if they could be more helpful. They looked at me in a baffled fashion when I suggested they could somehow make steps to either reunite the cardholder with the card or let him know that it had been found. They took the card away and said they’d cut it up. They wouldn’t contact the other bank as the customer would eventually notice, cancel the card and so it wouldn’t make much difference. I won’t name the bank involved, but if you live in ‘the world’ they will be your ‘local bank’. 

Here is what I think would have happened in a service orientated bank – or just one with employees that thought about people

  • Somebody might have got me a towel (I was dripping wet)
  • There would have been interested in my issue/challenge – rather than just trying to deal with me as quickly as possible and move onto the next query
  • The bank would have offered to do one of the following i) find a way to reunite the card with the owner ii) find a way to notify the owner
  • Somebody would have said ‘I’m sure the cardholder would have appreciated you trying to help them, thanks’
  • After I left someone would probably have walked the card to the nearest branch of the other bank (or at least called them)

Why would they do this? Well, the person might even have been commercially aware enough that doing something useful for the person who lost the card might make them think about changing banks. Or they might just be a considerate person who likes helping.

Those two things probably aren’t mutually exclusive. We used to love helping people at Metro Bank because we wanted them to be fans and tell stories about how they had been surprised and delighted.

Those stories are nicer ones than, for instance, how your bank manipulated LIBOR or missold PPI.

Stories count – my experience with the lost cashcard is a story. Every interaction is an opportunity for a story.

Brands can distinguish themselves through the ways they help people – even those who aren’t customers.

Choosing not to help people also says a lot about you too…

‘It’s the same old story…’

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2 thoughts on “You think like a complete banker

  1. Reblogged this on fool (with a plan) and commented:
    There is no regulation preventing banks from providing great customer service. In fact, banking services are an easily copied commodity – the only thing that sets one bank apart from another is the customer experience. But you sure wouldn’t know it the way many (most?) banks act.

    • In the UK the historical view has been that people won’t switch banks. It appears the banks didn’t realise this wasn’t loyalty – there was just nothing worth switching for whilst they all did the same thing poorly. Thanks for the reblog.

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