I was approached by my bank (we will call them BIG Bank) ten months ago and they said, “Gee we think you are great customer and we appreciate your business so here is what we would like to do—we would like to refinance your mortgage because the interest rate is a bit high.”
After much discussion and talking about the details I decided this was a swell idea because it would lower my monthly payment, lower the interest rate, while at the same time shortening the length of the loan. A simple no-brainer, right?
Now I think I must have had rocks in my head. Why? It has been a nightmare of bureaucratic bungling, miscommunication, massive paperwork, phone calls, emails, changes to changes to changes and broken promises, an exercise in frustration and huge drain on my time. A few examples:
The “processor” at BIG Bank of my new loan asked for the same information seven times.
“I need a letter about a property that you rented 16 years ago.”
“You have it already”
“No I don’t- please resend.”
“I have sent it three times.”
“I don’t have it please resend”
Lather. Rise. Repeat.
I have been told that I didn’t need to bring any money to the closing, that I need to bring $5,000 dollars to the closing, that I need to bring $2000 to the closing, that I need to bring $3,800 to the closing. The amount changed again today.
I was supposed to close last Friday at 11:30 am. They called me at 9:00 am and said there would NOT be a closing—they needed some “additional information.” I was asked to write a letter in response to multiple questions about my business P&L statements. (Even though it is a personal loan.) I spent an hour writing a detailed letter. A day later I was asked for bank statements from my savings account for the last three months. I feel like a performing seal waiting for the next trick they want me to do.
Note: As I am writing this article I just got a call from Big Bank asking me to scan some documents and then they are not satisfied with “page two” and need me to bring the actual physical statements to the branch. I just drove twenty minutes to the branch to drop it off. I can’t make this stuff up.
This is a column about leadership. So what lessons can we learn from my experience?
Process vs. Customer
Unfortunately with this big mega bank they are more caught up in the process than with the with the customer experience—no one thinks about the experience I am having. They don’t ask if I have time to get this or that information. They ask me to close with no notice. They keep asking me for more information, much of it redundant. They are just thinking about forms, processes, and procedures. They’re just concerned with making Fannie May, Freddie Mac and FHA happy. Mark my words, when the process becomes more important that the customer just watch your business fail. So as a leader I think you need to start looking at what the customer is experiencing. It not about you, it’s about me—or it should be anyway.
How can this Big Bank keep telling me that we are ready and saying we are going to close and pulling the rug out from under me? I believe it is because there is not a cultural mandate or mission or values which say “we are going to only make a promise if we can keep and it” and making sure that they keep those promises. Leaders need to enforce and incent people for saying what they will do and doing it. Holding people accountable for what they promise.
No one seems to own the process at Big Bank. I have a representative who is great, but she is always saying “they need this” or “they need that” and when I ask who “they are” she says her “organization.” The people in credit, processing, loans, etc. It’s all their fault. Not one person wants to own it, they want to pass it to the next department. As a leader we need to get people thinking as “we” not “they.” We are all “us” after all and have the same logos on our paychecks. The team should be a team overall not separate departments.
No one at Big Bank knows how to apologize. They famously say “I am really sorry about this but… It can’t be helped it’s our policy, blah blah blah.” If you apologize and add the “but” at the end it has no meaning. Leaders should teach all team members how to apologize so that it is an apology and not an excuse.
I have invested at least two hours of my time working on this and providing requested information. That’s just today. I have been waiting for my refinance for ten months. It is my time that has been taken and I can never get it back. No one at Big Bank thinks about my time, labor, or effort. As leaders we need to keep looking at how customers interact with us as an organization and how much time they invest to complete a transaction. If it is too long you will lose them.
So why haven’t I said “forget it I am done?” because I don’t want to start over and I have already invested ten months of my time and labor. I am “all in” as they say. I will be saving a good bit of money each month on my mortgage, but here is one thing Big Bank doesn’t know—as soon as all this is done, I am taking the rest of my banking somewhere else. The sad fact is they won’t even notice.
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