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Why Banks Struggle to Make You Care

What kind of a relationship do you have with your bank? Below is the true story of my daughter’s experience with her bank. Spoiler alert, it doesn’t end well.

In terms of a prospect, I was a layup.   

I have a checking account with one of the big banks. Like a lot of millennials, I chose my particular bank because they were the bank on campus when I was in college.

My consistent $150 checking balance didn’t attract much attention. I put a small amount of cash in. I take a small amount out. Me and the Big Bank don’t talk.

When I graduated college, my relationship with my bank didn’t change. I never reached out to them, and they certainly never reached out to me.

Despite regular direct deposits of a halfway decent salary, nothing changed.

Despite aggressively paying off federal student loans, nothing changed.

Despite changing jobs, and an increasing direct deposit, nothing changed.

When I turned 25, and decided to start investing, I wasn’t emotionally attached to big bank. Nonetheless, I decided to give em’ a whirl, because honestly, who wants to fill out more paperwork and remember another password?

(I told you. Layup.)

So, I make an appointment, and into the bank I walked. I’ve finally crossed the account balance where the bank is willing to actually speak to you without an $8 fee, so this is new to me.

I enter an awkwardly sparse office.  My “personal banker” smiles at me, and asks what I wanted to talk about. I reply, “saving.”

She had contacted me 20 minutes beforehand to make sure I would show up. She has complete access to my financial records. She can find out how long I’ve been a customer, how much I make, my recurring expenses, etc.

Yet, there I sat, across from her, spelling my last name for the third time.

She takes out a pamphlet with a few savings account options, then, proceeds to pitch me on mortgages, credit cards, and some other products I didn’t full understand.

I left, slightly more confused than when I went in, and feeling approximately 0%
more attached to the bank.

Then, I see an ad for Ellevest, a virtual, women-focused investment service. I set up a personal phone call to talk about my financial goals. Low and behold, I move money from Big Bank right on over.

I never had a problem with Big Bank. I still use them for my checking account. The woman in the meeting was nice enough. The app works decently. But, my relationship with Big Bank is transactional. And transactional relationships are replaceable.

My experience isn’t unique, but it is emblematic.

This relationship is not transactional because of the people. It’s transactional because of the systems (or lack thereof).

LinkedIn notifies me, asking if I’d like to learn more about so-and-so, when I have a meeting with them in 15 minutes.

Wayfair reached out when I changed my address, asking if I am furnishing a new place.

The guy who sold me my car personally called me when it was time for an oil change.

But none of that happened with the Big Bank. Not once.

My daughter’s experience is hardly unique. W. Edwards Deming once said, “A bad system will beat a good person every time.” The question bank leaders and other organizations need to ask is; Are you leveraging technology to improving your relationship with customers? Or is it getting in the way?