AWESOME v. Chase Bank
Business Keynote Speaker DISHES ON CHASE BANK
A Tale Of Two Customer Experiences: One Was Awesome. The Other Was Chase Bank.
Quick Aside: I’m going to ask you at the end of this article whether you would have named the manager at Chase? (I’ve been sitting on this one for a couple of months…the first version named names, the location of the branch…everything. I’m wondering if by removing the name I did the right thing or made a mistake. What do you think?)
The first experience was textbook awesome. I was getting some routine bloodwork done as part of my annual physical. As I frequently do as a magician, I was playing with some piece of sleight-of-hand magic. In this case, I was fiddling with a poker chip. The poker chip isn’t valuable financially, but it means something to me.
On the way out of the office I realized I no longer had my poker chip. How embarrassing. So I’m looking through the lobby and waiting room area on the floor hoping to find my poker chip, hoping no one notices. I didn’t want to explain that I like to fiddle with stuff while I practice magic and had lost a silly little poker chip.
A young man, who must have been in his mid 20s was sitting behind the desk, noticed me and came out to see what was up. I sheepishly described my problem and said it was absolutely not something he needed to worry about. Totally my fault. No big deal. I didn’t tell him that I really didn’t want to lose this poker chip.
“I’ll help! “ He started getting serious looking all over the floor. I had already given up. I knew it was gone. Then I noticed this young man was also gone, but before I realized what was going on, he returned with the poker chip in his hand, and a big smile on his face.
He was so proud. Turns out this guy put on surgical gloves and went into the blood drawing room and went through the trash. (The trashcan was near where I had my blood drawn.)
This kid actually went through the trash looking for my poker chip and found it. What?! Who does that?! I was thrilled.
Let’s talk about this model employee.
Finding my stupid poker chip is NOT part of his job.
It would’ve been totally normal for him to casually look around, fail to find the chip, shrug his shoulders and smile, and wish me the best. It even would’ve been normal for him to stay behind the desk doing his actual job. My poker chip that may or may not have been lost anywhere in that building was definitely not his problem.
But that is not what he did. He decided to take ownership. He must’ve said to himself, “I might be able to help, I’m going to try.” And he did more than a cursory look. He actually dug through medical waste to find my little magic prop.
In my mind, this guy is a perfect employee. He was shiny and bright. He was kind and smart. But mostly he was willing to just roll up his sleeves (literally!) and be part of the solution.
He’s young. I don’t know exactly what his job is. But my gut tells me his future is exceptionally bright in any field, for any organization, period! Who cares what his education or training has been. He’s the kind of guy we would all want on our team.
Now, let’s talk about a customer fail: Chase Bank.
The Branch Manager Passed the Buck
I usually talk about positivity and emotional support on my blog. I am a motivational speaker, after all, who focuses on the power of social and emotional support to reach desired outcomes. I try to avoid telling stories that don’t have an upbeat message or positive outcome. I usually can spin almost any encounter I have, even challenging ones, into a message about how remaining positive and supportive gets results that you want quicker and easier.
However, in trying to manage my elderly father’s finances, I have met my match in the banking system. Namely Chase Bank. Banks love to sell you on the idea that they are all about personal service. Chase Bank’s motto is, “We’re here to help you manage your money today and tomorrow.” Branch banking and personal bankers are their thing. My cynical self says that most banks are really about separating you from your money, and don’t really care about “helping” you manage your finances, but hey, they do provide a service. I guess.
A Bit of Background
Anyway, my father is 88 years old and has begun showing signs of dementia over the past few years. As you can guess, this is stressful and sad for me because he’s been such a great dad, a super role model, the dad who knew everything, who always could come to the rescue if I screwed up too much, who always had it all together. And now he’s declining. His memory is poor, and although he has his good days, it’s now apparent that he’s forgetting a lot more than he’s remembering.
When a parent has dementia, managing and protecting their financial assets becomes a challenge for the kids or other caregivers. Banks and other financial institutions are aware that seniors are victims of fraud more than any other age group, and they dedicate a lot of web pages on how to prevent it. However, almost none of those pages talk about seniors who have dementia and who cannot be “trained” to recognize red flags about potential fraud.
A fraudster called my dad a little while back and convinced him to give over his bank account information, and was working on getting his google e-mail password. Luckily while Dad was on the land-line with the bad guy, I called him on his cell. Dad picked up and told me about the nice conversation he was having with this friendly, young man from India who was helping him “fix” his google e-mail and wanted his password, and “hey Brad, could you tell me what it is so I can do that?” I immediately had him hang up on fraud dude and then spent the next jillion hours freezing my dad’s bank accounts, google email account, and generally trying to figure out how to lock my dad’s finances down so these hucksters could not break in with his unwitting help. The fraudsters kept hitting up his google e-mail account over the next few days trying to break in and change his password. They are relentless!
This is not the first time this has happened. Over the past year or so my dad has been the target of several scammers trying to get him to send them money via the internet or by check or by paying them cash. One even posed on the phone as one of his grandsons and told him he was in jail and needed bail money. There have been several close calls, but so far he hasn’t lost anything—not for want of trying! (The most interesting story I heard about a fraud on a senior involved a relative of mine who, at the direction of a scammer, went to her bank, withdrew $10,000, then went to a bitcoin machine and exchanged the cash for bitcoin, and then deposited the bitcoin into the scammer’s account, all while on the phone with the scammer throughout. Wow. They are that good.)
Phew! That was a bunch of background!
This is where CHASE comes in. I hold the financial Power of Attorney for my dad, so I decided to open a new bank account for him at Chase Bank, where I bank, and where my dad does not. If dad doesn’t know where his money is, he can’t give it away to bad guys. Brilliant! A hidden bank account!
I’d take away his old checkbook so he couldn’t give any account information to bad guys. I’d switch over his social security and pension deposits to this new account, close his old account or just keep very little money in it, so that fraudsters would have less to steal. Dad and I discussed it, and he agreed that I would pay his bills from now on, not using checks but banking on-line. The idea was that I would keep this new account separate from my dad so that I could pay his bills from it, and my dad wouldn’t have access information which he could share with bad guys.
I opened the account in person at my Chase branch. I explained what I was doing and very nicely asked them not to send any mail or e-mails to my father because it would confuse him. I worked with a really good guy, Darren Woon. Darren is smart, kind, and helpful. When Darren wanted my dad’s email address to put my father’s e-mail on his new (hidden) account, I said no, because I didn’t want my dad to get any marketing or other e-mails from Chase. (Remember… This account is in my Dad’s name…but its location was to be a secret from my dad.) Darren Woon said, “No sweat, Brad. Your dad won’t get emails.”
You know what happens next. I reluctantly gave the the e-mail, and bam! the next day my dad gets an e-mail from Chase welcoming him to the bank. Dad starts calling them, starts calling me, and generally gets confused and wants to know what’s going on. So I spent another jillion hours talking to my dad, calming him down, and denying that he had a Chase account. (I HATE lying to my dad.)
Let me make something clear. I don’t think Darren Woon made a mistake. Or if he did, it was totally innocent. I really like Darren Woon. But nevertheless, Dad was getting emails and I had a new headache. Chase did not have a headache…its customer did.
I called Darren Woon to get him to help fix the problem. He is my “Personal Banker” so…yay! I had a partner!
Bad news: Darren Woon wasn’t working that day. So I got escalated up to to the Branch Manager. But that was good news, right? The “manager” had to be even more helpful than Darren Woon, right?
This manager listened to me describe my problem. “Oh, you have an email problem. I’m going to transfer you to the National email and web help desk. They’ll fix it.” I begged him not to transfer me. I knew the help desk was going to be confused by this complicated account. The account was in my dad’s name, I am the power of attorney … it wasn’t straightforward. And as I had looked all over the account on the Internet for an option to change the email, and was convinced there was no option on the account to make such a change, I just knew being bumped up to a undertrained person in a different state was never going to work.
“No no, they’ll fix it,” said Mr. Manager.
You Can Guess What Happened Next, Right?
Right. The help desk was a dead end. But it was especially frustrating because in order for them to help me they needed to verify that I was my dad. I am not my dad (obviously) and therefore could not verify that I am him. (Duh?) I explained that I had power of attorney, had to open the account in person, had completed all of the Chase required paperwork to give me control of this account on behalf of my dad, including supplying them with the POA. I invited them to verify that I was me. (I’m good at that.). Nope, you need to be your dad. Impossible. Dead end. “Sorry, it’s our policy.”
By this point, a little bit of my soul was dead. I was frustrated and angry.
So I called back the branch and found my personal branch manager again, Mr. Manager. I explained that I hit a dead end, as predicted, at the national help desk. I explained they needed me to verify things about my dad I could not do. I explained that I had power of attorney and had already been approved by Chase to have full control of this account. Could he please help me change the friggin’ email?
Nope. I’m sorry. It’s our policy. Fail for Chase. Fail for Mr. Branch Manager. Fail for me, their customer.
Let Me Recap
A longtime loyal client opens a new sizable account. Because of some glitch or other weirdness with the Chase computer system, the same client had a big headache. The help desk and the personal Branch Manager were extremely unhelpful, even after the client lost his cool and threatened to pull his business.
I’m Embarrassed to Say I Lost It.
I yelled at the manager. I cursed. (Again, not proud. Not proud at all. It’s embarrassing.) I threatened to pull ALL of our accounts. Mortgage. Dad’s new account. My personal and business accounts. (Our business account has a pretty high balance.). Mr. Manager just said, “I’m sorry. That’s Chase’s policy. I’m sorry you’re upset. Good luck to you.”
This was the moment that I realized that Chase (in general) and Mr. Branch Manager (specifically) didn’t care about my business. Because of our high balances, our multiple accounts, and my loyalty as a long time client I felt like I was a big deal. Nope. I was nothing to Chase.
A day or two later, I was able to get the wonderful Darren Woon back on the phone. I was stunned to learn that Mr. Manager never told him about me. My anger (and yelling and cursing….again… This is embarrassing!) meant so little to Mr. Manager that he never bothered to give a heads up to Darren Woon. There was no, “Hey, Darren? That guy Brad Montgomery? The guy you opened an account for for his dad? He’s really pissed at Chase and at me. He was yelling and is totally frustrated. You’ll probably hear from him.” There was no sticky note, EG: “Sorry Darren, I ticked off your client Brad.” No email, phone message, smoke signals, finger paint…
I’m pretty sure they work one cubicle apart from each other. I was stunned that the Branch Manager cared so little that he didn’t bother to communicate through that glass window separating them.
Where Chase Went Wrong
That’s easy. They have a lousy work culture. They haven’t successfully created a culture where people feel the importance of owning their customers’ problems. They haven’t created a culture where people care enough to say, “Well, this isn’t my personal mistake, but I see there is a problem. I’m gonna have to get creative to solve it for this customer.” They haven’t been able to create a culture where they make good customers feel happy to be customers.
Mr. Manager didn’t care enough to put on some gloves and spend 12 seconds in the trash to find the metaphorical poker chip.
It’s Chase’s failure in hiring and of training. It’s a failure of culture. If their Branch Manager was so eager to pass the buck to the web/email help desk, and was never unwilling to get personally involved in my problem, how in the world will his reports excel at making customers feel important?
If their Branch Manager was able to listen to a really hacked off, frustrated customer and explain that I was being stuck with a problem CHASE created, and then simply say something like, “Yeah, that’s frustrating. I see you have a problem that wasn’t of your making. But it’s our policy, …” and still not do anything to help, how do we expect anybody else at that branch to treat customers as though Chase actually cares about them?
The only hero of this story — besides the poker chip dude at the doctor’s office — is Darren Woon, who ended up owning this Chase-created problem, escalating it somehow, and eventually getting it fixed. Darren Woon is a rock star. My prediction is that he’ll be gone from that branch soon. He’s too smart, cares too much, and is too good with people NOT to advance. Whether Chase is smart enough to keep him, or if they lose him to another financial institution smart enough poach him is a toss up. I’d guess he continues to learn, grow, and to continue to get promotions until he eventually ends up at a smaller financial firm who truly appreciates him. His future is very bright.
Hey Chase Bank! I Have Some Advice
Hire me. No, I’m not kidding. I am a business keynote speaker who can help motivate your teams to care about the Personal Side of Business. I can help make them care enough to want to help people. To make your clients happy. To earn their loyalty.
The reason I didn’t go through with pulling my accounts was because it was another headache for me. If your business model and approach to customer service and retention is to Know That Switching Banks Is a Pain So Once They Sign Up With Us They’ll Probably Stay To Avoid the Changing-Banks Hassle, you’ve got a problem. I can help. Contact me. You need to make sure every Branch Manager understands my approach to people-centered business.
Again, I’m not kidding. You’ve got a problem. I can help. I’m pricey, but I’d say you can’t afford not to hire me as a motivational business keynote speaker to help your folks get to where they need — and deserve — to be.
Make sure Darren Woon is happy. Give him all the training you can in order to help him reach his goals. And most importantly, mark him as a guy you must keep at Chase. If you make him feel as superfluous as you make your customers feel, you’ll eventually lose him.
As for me, I’m going to keep practicing with my precious poker chip, and hope it’s a long time before I need help with a problem at my bank.
Regarding Mr. Manager? I’d fire him. Honestly. If it is this bad at the top (of your branch) what can you expect from the rest of his team? I wouldn’t want him working for me.
Even More Advice, Chase
Your Customer Service Philosophy seems to be, “Let’s get people in the door. It’s such a total headache to switch to a different bank that even very unhappy customers like that motivational business speaker Brad Montgomery won’t switch.” This is an appallingly bad approach to customer service and client experience. You need to re-think and re-train.
This was a long one. Thanks for reading everybody.
Leave a Comment! Now….let me know. Would you have named the icky Branch Manager?
What advice would YOU give Chase? Leave a comment below.