Customer Service  Naomi TakeuchiI have seen many customer service situations, but I am still amazed at the indifference and lack of service I’ve seen from one bank and the extraordinary efforts taken by another bank.

Here’s the situation:  I belong to a nonprofit organization called “RTP Power Speakers” which is a club in the Toastmasters International organization.  We recently had a name change moving from the “Power NAAAPsters” to this new name.  We presented the following documents:

1) The addendum to the bylaws page which showed that a vote of the membership took place on February 4th and that our official name should be “RTP Power Speakers”

2) Our list of officers who are allowed to be on the signature card with the bank.

3) Our EIN number that has been assigned by the Federal government under the Toastmasters umbrella.

Even though we had an EXISTING BANK ACCOUNT with PNC Bank, when four of our officers arrived to close out the old account and create a new one, the bankers insisted that they could not open the account because we did not have an official document from the State of North Carolina with our new name.  We would need to file a document with the Secretary of State (which they were willing to print and notarize for us), and we would have to wait until the State had come back with a response and official registration of our new name.  Even though we explained to them that we are part of a larger International organization and that we are an unincorporated not-for-profit, it didn’t matter.

Rules were rules.  The banker said he would have to have a business banker help us.  Three business days later, we received no response, and even though I personally went into the bank, the banker then proceeded to argue with me about why they couldn’t open the account based on their rules.  One full week later, when I spoke first hand with the manager of the branch, I got the same response.  Now mind you, this an EXISTING account where we were asking for a Name Change.

Here’s the Bitstrip cartoon I created regarding this situation which received quite a few laughs from my friends:


They were also surprised by the indifference and complete lack of interest or value they placed in our organization.

Recommendation.  Then a friend of mine recommend BB&T Bank.  The experience was like night and day.  The banker at BB&T understood our situation as he had worked with Toastmasters clubs in the past.  I showed him our documents, and he said the only additional document he needed was our Charter Certificate with Toastmasters.  Thankfully, I had that at home in a frame, and I took a picture of it which he accepted.

When I met with him the FOLLOWING DAY, I showed him the original, and he said that the picture I had sent to him was sufficient.  Three out of the four officers arrived and were able to sign the paperwork.  The time between our initial contact and the follow-up meeting was only one day.  The PNC Bankers still to this day have not gotten back to me about anything they are willing to do to keep our business.  It’s a sad situation when  you are asking an existing customer to go somewhere else.

In response to our experience with BB&T, I posted the following Bitstrip cartoon:

cartoon_naomi_bbt Not only did BB&T make all of us feel valued, they made the process of opening a new account painless and easy.  They didn’t require us to jump through all the hoops that PNC Bank was putting in our way unnecessarily.

After speaking with a representative at our headquarters at Toastmasters International, it was clear that PNC Bank just didn’t understand the kind of organization we are as affiliates to the greater parent organization.  In the end, they lost one piece of business, but they will likely miss other opportunities since four club leaders were all experienced this lack of service at the same time.

Communication Powerhouse Tip of the Week: 
Treat your existing and new customers well and with respect.   Make them fans not enemies!

It has often been said that it is much harder to get new customers than to keep your existing customers and grow more services from your existing customer base.

In this case, PNC Bank did not take the time to do the proper research to see what was indeed required and also did not make an effort to keep an existing customer.  Because they told us we would have to close our account and open a new one, it opened our options for other banks, and we were lucky to find a good one through our network of Toastmasters clubs.

1000 Cranes, LLC  Naomi TakeuchiWe feel great about working with BB&T.  We are now evangelists and fans for the bank because of the great experience we had.   Needless to say, PNC Bank has not made an effort to win back our business, and as such, we will likely not recommend working with them in the future.  This is just one experience, but it shows that a simple act of a name change can impact real sales and goodwill.

If nothing else, I hope PNC Bank has learned from this experience and will work harder in the future before it loses more customers.

How About You?  Have you had an experience like this with great customer service?  I look forward to your comments below or contact Naomi here.