Banks aren’t known for making exceptions. If the employees of a branch had acted reasonably however, they might have kept the business of a notable Indianapolis resident.
The story comes from Danny O’Malia. You may recognize Danny’s name from his family business: O’Malia’s Food Markets. In his post on Indy SmallBiz, he writes about Chase Bank:
I had a $2000 check from a client to deposit, as well as two personal checks totaling just shy of eight dollars to cash. The girl at the window informed me the bank could not cash the two personal checks because I did not have a personal account with Chase.
I thought about asking for the Branch Manager or my business banker, “Joe”. Then I realized I was dealing with an institution failing to train and/ or properly empower its employees to give basic customer service. I took the two small checks back, went home and proceeded to call “Joe”.
But “Joe” didn’t answer—I got a message from “Frank”.
Two days later I entered the bank with another check from a client. I asked for the Branch Manager. He was gracious. I asked to close the door and told him my story. He was apologetic and explained that “Joe” had been promoted and not yet replaced.
My response was, “So you left his clients twisting in the wind?’ His response was, “Yes, I guess so.”
So I closed the account immediately. I took all my money to [another bank] that very day.
The point of Danny’s article is that the original teller should have tried to solve his problem. After all, surely the “no personal check cashing policy” is not intended for cases where you are depositing a check for two grand and want to cash a couple of personal checks worth less than eight bucks. Danny believes the teller should have called the manager immediately. Plus, Danny is unimpressed that his call to Joe got dropped.
This story illustrates a few different problems that are present in many organizations:
- Policies, not protocols – The employees have been trained to follow a “policy.” Most of us think of a policy is a hard-and-fast rule that you always obey. But instead, the “no personal check cashing without a personal checking account” policy should really be a protocol. This could be as simple as “Personal check cashing is a service we provide to our best customers, such as those who have a personal account or are otherwise in great standing with the bank.” This leaves room for interpretation, which empowers individual employees.
- Workflow, not reactivity – In this situation, “Joe” was expected to return a phone call. We expect professionals to get back to us when we leave message, which is typical professional courtesy when we leave messages. But in truth, managing relationships in a large organization like Chase—where there are tens of thousands of employees—should have an established workflow to ensure that customer requests don’t get dropped if the person is on vacation, leaves the bank or gets promoted.
Banking is a complex, highly regulated industry, and there needs to be some rules in place. In the end, however, Danny’s story is really about stifling employees and broken workflow. If your organization needs to better manage customer relationships, consider how you are empowering your employees through reasonable protocols and effective workflow.