What’s In My Wallet? Hope.

Capital One Kitty
The Kitty called me back

I recently complained about my business bank’s proposed unilateral change in checking account terms because they moved from simple to complicated in their cost structure.

Not only that, but earlier this Spring I had written that they really rubbed my rash when I tried to close a line of credit with a 2 cent balance (!) and treated me to the full Skynet-Kafkaesque-Brazil-dehumanizing-bureaucracy[1] that probably extended my personal therapy sessions to deal with bank rage issues[2] for yet another year.

I’m surprised and delighted to report an update this week:

Capital One reached out to me to apologize for the confusion, answer my questions, ask my advice as a customer, and to listen.

This is huge.

A woman named Allie sent me an email, offering to track down the background to the specific information I reported in my post.

Next, on the following day, she set up a conference call with Rich, from the small business banking network, and Carrie, from small business development.

We all spoke for about twenty minutes.

Rather than be defensive about my pointed criticism, they thanked me for being blunt and said they wanted to improve.  Rather than try to justify the institutional changes they were making to business accounts, they said they wanted to use my feedback to serve customers better.

These three were good communicators, and good listeners.  When I got on my self-righteous soapbox about how mistrustful customers are of their banks – and with good reason – they encouraged me to offer suggestions.

“How can we do better?” they asked numerous times, in different ways.  This is a great start.

I’m as cynical as they come on the issue of bank customer service, so they took a risk in setting up a conference call with me.  I would have had no problem turning yet another unfortunate interaction into red meat for an angry anti-bank blog screed.

I have to admit, however, these folks did well.  Somebody at Capital One has figured out how to make the customer feel good.  So the challenge will be to take that approach and expand it to the rest of the bank.

Seth Grodin periodically writes about the profitable opportunity – in a horrible customer-service world – to distinguish your business through customer delight.

Here’s hoping Capital One gets there in time.

Please see related posts: Why you hate your bank


[1] We really need a short hand version of this idea in English, rather than an extended and unwieldy hyphenated reference to two movies, and an author.  This kind of idea lends itself to one big long German word, but I unfortunately don’t speak German.  Surely the Germans have a word for this already, no?  Would somebody please help me?

[2] Is ‘Bank Rage Issues’ in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders yet?  Apparently the American Bankers Association has been lobbying hard for its inclusion.

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I founded Bankers Anonymous because, as a recovering banker, I believe that the gap between the financial world as I know it and the public discourse about finance is more than just a problem for a family trying to balance their checkbook, or politicians trying to score points over next year’s budget – it is a weakness of our civil society. For reals. It’s also really fun for me.

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