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Customer Expectations

It is 2012. As customers, we don't have the same expectations as we did just a short time ago. In our Internet centric world, we expect to conduct business at just about any time of day, seven days a week. Companies who fail to deliver on that expectation, will either learn to shortly, or they will fail.

Consider this recent customer experience I had with my business bank:

I receive my new check card (due to the previous one expiring). I need to activate it, so I call the number printed on the sticker on the new card. I am prompted to enter my PIN. I don't know my PIN, because I have never withdrawn cash from my business checking account, but rather use the check card itself for business expenses. I try a few PINs that I've used in the past, but none are successful. After 3 attempts, I'm asked if I'd like my PIN mailed to me, and I say "yes".

Already this is annoying. I've activated cards many times in the past, and I've never been prompted for a PIN. But I shrug it off, and wait the 5-7 days it takes for my PIN to arrive.

Today (a Friday) around 6pm, I call once again to activate my card. But this time I'm not prompted for my PIN, but rather told that my card cannot be activated by the automated system, and that I need to contact a representative. No phone number is provided, and the automatic system hangs up on me. Why not just transfer me to a representative?

I call back, and spend at least 5 minutes punching various options trying to get to a representative (no, pushing zero didn't work, and none of the top level options were "Speak with a representative").

Finally I find myself talking to a person. She asks me for my account number. I explain that I can find it, but it isn't handy. She then asks me for my SS#. I give it to her. She then says I don't have an account with them. I say that I do. She asks what kind of account. I tell her it is a business checking account. She asks for the check card number, which I read to her. She then wants to know the tax ID of my business, I explain that isn't handy, and she says she needs it. So with her on the phone, I go digging in my files, and finally find it. She then asks me to verify the last 3 transactions on the account. I explain that I don't have Quicken in front of me, but she says she won't be able to activate the card without my confirmation of the last 3 transactions on my account. So with her waiting on the line, I boot up Windows, then Quicken, and I confirm the last 3 transactions.

You won't believe this, but after all this verification, she says, "You attempted to activate your card too many times. You will need to see a representative in person to have your card reset." WHAT?!? It is Friday after banking hours!

So now I need to make a trip to the bank. The catch is, it won't be to my current bank, but rather to a new bank with better customer service, and it will be to open up a new account. The next time I interface with my current bank, it will be to close the account.

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