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Public Relations: How My Bank Took the Money and Ran

Does anyone like their bank? Fess up now. Don’t be shy. If you’re like me and I expect I’m not alone I have a love-hate relationship with mine. Well, in my case lately it’s more like hate. Now, I’m not a normally fierce person, but recently I had all my tentacles out ready to attack my bank. Grrr….My bank is Webster Bank, a regional bank that as it has gotten bigger,opening more branches (there are two within five minutes of me) has gotten less and less friendly. I know the individuals working at my branch are very nice people who mean well.

Does anyone like their bank? Fess up now. Don’t be shy. If you’re like me and I expect I’m not alone I have a love-hate relationship with mine. Well, in my case lately it’s more like hate. Now, I’m not a normally fierce person, but recently I had all my tentacles out ready to attack my bank. Grrr….My bank is Webster Bank, a regional bank that as it has gotten bigger,opening more branches (there are two within five minutes of me) has gotten less and less friendly. I know the individuals working at my branch are very nice people who mean well. They’ve just gotten bitten by “corporatitis.” By that I mean that everything…and I mean everything is by the book.The other days was the last straw. I wanted to withdraw money from my savings account. Should be simple, right? Instead, because it’s a business savings account, I was told that I must  provide documents to withdraw it. Besides that, I was told I would be charged a $12 fee for the privilege of withdrawing it. Because it’s a savings account, the bank claims it needs to cut me bank checks at a cost of $5.99 each. I needed two checks. Any idea why a bank can’t cut a simple check like any normal person? I certainly don’t know. And, if not, why the heck not waive the fees or at least one of them for a very good customer?Meanwhile, of course, the bank has been getting free use of my money – without my requiring them to complete any paperwork.What is truly perplexing is who banks are courting today for their business. Now, I am an upstanding, small business owner – or at least I think so. Meanwhile, my bank doesn’t seem to want my money and certainly does everything possible to urge me to withdraw it. For example, they claim to have an investment arm, comprised of one person, who doesn’t always call you back. When he wanted to charge me a big fee for investing my money in mutual funds that didn’t seem very different from what I could buy directly, I asked him to see how we could reduce the rate and to please get back to me. Oops. Still waiting for that call. If I practiced the customer service, marketing myopia and bureaucratic mindset of my bank, I would be out of business in a day. Here’s another example of their mindlessness. My bank has a twitter account @websterbank. I tweeted several times drawing attention to my problems and asking for help. Being the eternal optimist, I expected someone there to respond. Still waiting for that one too.As far as I know my bank didn’t get government bailout money, but maybe I’m wrong. They sure act like they don’t need my money.Now, what can we learn from this bank rip off: • Reputation counts. While my bank pretends that it doesn’t, my bad WOM I’m sure will trigger others to relate their tales of woe. I bet I’m not the only one who’s had a beef with them. Moreover, in today’s webby world, anyone can with the click of a mouse affect your reputation.• The customer is always right. While my bank has forgotten that, the fact is that you can’t be in business today without at least acknowledging your customer’s perspective. Treat your customer the way you want to be treated. Now, of course, your customer logically is not always right. However, your customer has every right to his/her opinion and perception and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Every time.• Customers have value. As any business person knows, it costs money to acquire a customer. Now, of course, some customers are more trouble than they are worth. However, particularly if a customer has helped to improve your bottom line, you should work to keep that customer.Wendy Marx, B2B PR and Personal Branding Specialist, Marx Communicationspublic relations, PR, bank customer service, Webster Bank  

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About the author

Wendy Marx is President of Marx Communications, an award-winning boutique B2B Public Relations agency known for turning companies and executives, including start-ups, into thought leaders. Follow her on Twitter @wendymarx and on Google+ @ plus.google.com/+wendymarx.

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