New Name. Same Great Service

I’m guessing you’ve heard that worn out slogan before. It is one of the assembly line messages that has infected banking ever since some big bank paid some big agency to come up with it.  In the last 25 years it has become a normal course of action in banking that the big fish gobble up the little fish.  As you have seen, and probably experienced, banks are constantly merging or buying one another.  Each time this happens, the surviving, or newly named bank has a message to send to its customer base about the new setup.  I guess some agency came up with the idea.  And the message is this……”New Name … Same Great Service.”

The problem is that the claim is never, ever, never, ever true.

When a bank is merged or bought or sold, there is all manner of turmoil.  Usually the first order of business is for the surviving bank to find expenses, or positions, or locations, or executives, or divisions that can be eliminated because a form of all those platforms already is present in the surviving bank.  That’s why businesses buy businesses.  Businesses don’t buy other businesses so they can increase expenses. They busy businesses so they can increase revenue and profit and shareholder value.

And the fastest and most effective way to do that is to reduce expenses every place that makes good business sense.  And you can bet, during the initial period of this painstaking process, service will take a hit.

You probably won’t be able to talk directly to Beth anymore. And you might not be able to get fast answers from Tony anymore or any of the other folks you got warm and fuzzy with over the past several years.  It is remarkable that in the first 12 months of a buyout or merger that the “Same Great Service” claim is the loudest.

In fact, that is the absolute worst time that claim can be made because that is when the bean counters and auditors and accountants and consulting lawyers are in full rut.  But they stick to the “Same Great Service” claim anyway because another bank before did it and another bank before that and another bank before that did the exact same thing the exact same way.  The agency must make lots of money on this campaign.  Just like an annuity.

Here’s what I don’t get:

Why tell the customers of the bank something that is going to be the exact opposite of what the customers are certain to experience?

Certain to experience the exact opposite until the blood and dust from the merger settles. Why can’t businesses, not just banks but all businesses, see the customer service effect,  of advising the customer of a little turbulence?  Your customers are not idiots so stop treating them like they are.

Stop painting a rosy picture of something that is not going to be rosy at all!  Why not separate your business from the competition by telling your customers the truth?  Or setting up a help line, to help existing, loyal customers with the inevitable problems and frustrations they will most likely endure? Or tell the loyal, existing customers the plan if the loyal, existing customer can stick with the bank through the next tough months?  Or offer a credit of some type when trouble arises.

Or just do something other than tell the customer a fairy tale?

It just isn’t that hard. It’s called treating the customer with respect and dignity.  And I am not just picking on banks because the loss of respect and dignity for the customer is also happening at the fast food store, the grocery, the department store, the hospital, the county clerk’s office and at the check-in desk at the hotel.

Man, WHAT an opportunity.

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