Preventing Small Issues from Escalating

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Customer Engagement
Customer Experience
I felt like Ed Montague earlier this week (non-baseball fans please Google his name). For the third time in less than 3 months I was dealing with Wachovia customer service, and they swung and missed yet again. They were a checked-swing away from losing me as a customer, but fortunately some good may have come out of it. I'll backtrack a bit to explain.

I felt like Ed Montague earlier this week (non-baseball fans please Google his name). For the third time in less than 3 months I was dealing with Wachovia customer service, and they swung and missed yet again. They were a checked-swing away from losing me as a customer, but fortunately some good may have come out of it. I'll backtrack a bit to explain.I had a run-in with customer service over some issues with getting checks when I was buying a house, which was all resolved. Then a few weeks later a Wachovia teller in Florida accepted a withdrawal slip that had my account number written on it, but another customers' name (that customer had misprinted their account number, which was similar to mine). Thanks to that unforgivable mistake (the customer service rep's words, not mine), my account was overdrawn multiple times. After a few calls to customer service, an unsuccessful call to the branch, and then a conference call with customer service and the branch, everything was resolved.

That brings us to this week. I checked my account balances and noticed a $2.00 charge on my savings account called "other." I suspected it was some kind of fee, so I wrote an email to customer service asking what the charge was for, and indicating I didn't authorize any charge for that amount. I received a form response telling me that I didn't keep a minimum daily balance in the account, etc, etc...

Keep in mind that my account was drained first because of the closing costs on the house, then because I had to transfer money out to pay my bills when that mistaken withdrawl went through, and I forgot to put it back. As a result, for five days during the month of July my account was below the minimum level. On average over 30 days, it was more than three times the minimum level.

Throughout my other incidents with Wachovia, I'd been very civil. Now, over $2.00, I became the stereotypical angry customer. I fired off an email mentioning all the problems I'd had, threatening to close all my accounts, repeatedly saying "This isn't how you treat customers," and using far too many exclamation points. That did the trick. I received a very nice reply from a rep who identified herself and said (among other things) the following:

"I have filed a report with our Customer Listening Group. This group
collects all comments, ideas, and suggestions submitted to us through
email, the phone, and the Financial centers. They create a monthly
report from the data gathered and it is reviewed by our Executive
Committee. The committee determines what actions will be taken, when
they will be taken, and allocates the resources necessary to make the
change. I know it's not the immediate change that you would like, but I
can assure you that your voice and your opinion will be heard."

And she also reversed the charge, which at that point mattered far less than the fact that the company acknowledged my problems. This could have been avoided twice; first if the bank didn't nickel and dime customers with fees, and second if the first customer service person I dealt with recognized that it would be wise to reverse the charge rather than just explain what it was. Of course, then I wouldn't know that Wachovia had a Customer Listening Group, and I wouldn't have been able to blog about it.

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EXPERT OPINION