Posts Tagged ‘Finance’


Of service and tellers

March 1, 2009

A couple of weeks ago, I was – for the last time – treated horribly by Regions Bank.  I’ll spare you the grizzly details, but suffice it to say, they made a mistake that I was going to have to pay (dearly) for … and they bullymade it abundantly clear that they really could care less.  In calling them, I may as well have been barking at the moon.  (You know that feeling of complete and utter helplessness? That feeling you get when you’re so angry, you can hardly speak?)

I was just a little guy, after all …  so, if I followed through on the threat to close my accounts, who cares – right?  Now, from a business perspective, I wished I’d had the clarity at the time to remind them where their paycheck came from.  I,after all, was the revenue (customers’ money being what they invest, charge interest on, etc. to make their own profit,  obviously)!  They, the employee, were the overhead!

Was this how they’d want to be treated if the shoe were on the other foot?  Did they care if I, as I promised I would, told everyone who’d listen, for years to follow, how awful my experience with Regions Bank was?  The answer was an emphatic ‘no’ on both accounts.

After taking several days to digest it all, I’ve discovered the lesson to be learned here.

To these Regions support personnel, I’m a nobody.  A stranger with no immediate impact on their daily lives.  They can pass me right over and no one will know the better.

Or could they? The truth is, you never, ever know who you’re dealing with.  That, and the fact that it’s just the right thing to do, is one of the many reasons to just … well, treat people right.

I’m a literary publicist.  I work with authors, agents and media.  One of my authors just so happens to be a best-selling business author.  Said author just so happened to be in town last week to discuss ideas for/the contents of his next book.  The subject matter?  Customer service.  I told him of my experience with Regions.  And it’s possible that, in next year’s book – to be seen by untold thousands of potential customers, trade publications for hundreds of different little-guy-stands-up-to-bullyindustries throughout the world, media of every variety, etc. – Regions Bank and the way that customer service representative treated this “nobody”, will be cited as the perfect example of how NOT to treat your customers (how’s that for sweet justice? Striking a blow for the little guy?).   So, when they thought I’d simply hang up the phone and call my brother-in-law or my carpool pal before cooling off and just letting it go … they sold me a bit short.

Now – would this cause Regions Bank to close its doors? Of course not.  Could it cause a couple of hundred people who’d been considering opening an account with them to decide otherwise? Absolutely.  And, a few thousand dollars a month from each of them, over the course of 8,9,10 years … is a very, very substantial sum of money.

To their credit, after I called a senior VP at their headquarters, he returned my call.  He replaced my money.  He even sent a nice letter, apologizing for my troubles.  But, should I have had to call a senior VP at their headquarters to receive service? No.  The bank – which, to me, is represented by my only contact with them, the customer service representatives and tellers – should be empowered to take care of me and should have enthusiastically done so.  They could have, perhaps, made a believer out of me.

panhandlerI think you see where this is going, from a spiritual perspective.  We – as the body of Christ … as the church – have been empowered to take care of  those in need.    We shouldn’t put them off, thinking instead, “let God deal with it … I’d rather not bother.  He, or someone/anyone else, will take care of them.”  “The least of these” shouldn’t have to call headquarters and appeal to the senior VP of the universe for the most basic of needs … to complete the most trivial transactions.

After all, like the bank, He’s provided the means, already – and He’s empowered an army of  “tellers” and customer service representatives, to deliver them.

Bottom line? I came to Regions Bank with a problem … which, an astute business person would have seen, instead, as an opportunity.   They failed miserably to deliver and lost me forever.  We, as Christ-followers, must be more astute business people.  We’ve got to see the problems and troubled people we encounter daily as opportunities.  Opportunities to lend a hand, lift someone up, make someone’s day, give someone hope. We, like anyone in any customer service interaction, never know who we’re dealing with … what kind of trouble they may be in … how close to the edge they may be … how badly, despite their outward appearance or the size of their bank account, they need to know Jesus Christ.  If we handle it better than Regions did, enthusiastically answering the call when it comes in … we just might make a believer of someone.

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