A tale of two customer service experiences

This morning I made a silly mistake that led to the worst and best customer service experiences I have had in quite a while. On my way into the office, I stopped at the bank ATM to deposit my paycheck. It wasn’t until the transaction was complete that I realized I had incorrectly entered the amount of the check.

In hopes of making sure the mistake was corrected as quickly as possible, I called the bank’s customer service line. After working my way through the automated system, I was finally greeted by a customer service representative. He began our interaction by grilling me with security questions in a way that alarmed me rather than made me feel good about what the bank was doing to protect my private information.

Once he finally had enough information to verify that I was, indeed, who I claimed to be, I explained the situation and how I had made a mistake in depositing my money. His response was clunky at best, and he told me it would take four weeks to correct the issue and return the right amount of money to my checking account. I was utterly confused.

After requesting more information, I finally received a more satisfactory answer and decided that was probably the best I was going to get from this guy. Though I wasn’t angry when I hung up the phone, I did feel let down and even thought to myself, “There goes another company’s good customer service.” It was especially disappointing because I have been with the bank for over 20 years. (My mom opened a savings account for me when she worked for them when I was a kid.)

I hadn’t been off the phone for more than 60 seconds when my cell phone rang. When I answered it, the friendly man on the other end was a huge contrast to the one I had just hung up with. He introduced himself as the manager of the customer service representative with whom I had just spoken. He quickly and genuinely apologized for my experience and said he was calling me back to make sure I had all of the correct information. He also apologized for the awkward quizzing regarding my identity and offered a solution to make it easier on me next time I called the customer service line. He then gave me his direct line and asked me to call back if the funds did not hit my account by close of business the following day. Because he acted quickly and spoke kindly to me, he was able to turn a bad customer service experience into one of the best experiences I have had in a while.

The lesson to be learned here is that as your company grows, it is in your best interest to hire employees who understand and create a positive experience for customers. There will be times where the customer service experience does not meet expectations, but if you have the correct people in place, they will find these “slip-ups” as an opportunity, not a problem.

The last part of my story that I feel is very important to include is what I did last. After I got off the phone with the helpful manager, I shared my story with my co-workers and also jumped on the bank’s website and wrote a letter to corporate. As a customer, we have a role to play, too. If we truly value customer service, it is important to tell a company when we have had a positive experience. Positive reinforcement is a very powerful tool; taking this extra step only takes a moment, but the outcome will last much longer than that.

Megan Lane is part of the client relations team at Imagine Communications. Contact Megan at mlane@weareimagine.com.

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