I've done business with a number of banks over the years. One of them is First Bank of Cherry Creek. They don't always have the best interest rates or easiest loan underwriting terms. Alpine Bank, in Western Colorado, is the hands down winner in Colorado for beautiful branch bank office architecture (and when I lived in Grand Junction, Colorado they also had awesome donuts on Saturday morning). But, one place that First Bank really excels is courtesy and customer service. Time and time again, even when I come to them cranky, the people who work there are friendly, stay cool, take the time to listen to my questions and concerns, and address them.
For example, yesterday, the ATM machine ate my First Bank ATM card. I had even taken a detour on the way to where I was going there to go to the ATM machine so that I could do my business before I started work. A day that starts like this is like the beginning of some mediocre independent film comedy. Needless to say, I was pretty cranky, and I was also more than a bit worried that some case of personalized identity theft had struck me - something I've seen more than enough of second hand representing clients trying to sort out resulting bad check prosecutions, inaccurate credit reports, and muddled bank balances.
But, when I got to my office, I had a letter on my desk from the previous day explaining that there had been a security breach at the bank, which I hadn't realized applied to me, and when I called a customer service representative (I spoke to "Rhonda," a real human being from Colorado!) for clarification, she calmly explained to me that indeed, someone had gotten my ATM card number making it necessary to replace it, reviewed my account to make sure that there wasn't anything else amiss, told me when to expect a new card (it arrived later the same day) and explained why I couldn't have received a replacement any sooner given the steps that the bank had to take first and the fact that the breach took place on a weekend. I wasn't exactly happy afterwards, but I was a lot less grumpy than I'd been when the ATM machine ate my ATM card, and I was comfortable that a criminal, rather than bad management at the bank, was responsible for my inconvenience.
In an ideal world, the letter I'd received telling me what was going on could have been more clear, and the ATM machine could have been more specific about the reason it was eating my card, rather than giving me an ominous "please contact your bank" message with no other explanation. But, a chance to speak to a human being who was nice and actually able to answer my questions and was able to explain what was going on made the difference between a mild "shit happens" annoyance and a fury that could easily have led me to change banks. Given how routine it is for customer service line service to be almost as bad as the events that inspired you to call in the first place, this is a real achievement. At least half the time, to get the help you need, even if you can get it, you need to ask for a manager. But, not this time.
I often tag instances of bad business management (the Burger King next door to its Cherry Creek branch office has earned at least couple of those for its parking nazi tactics, nasty bathrooms and notoriously slow front counter service), but excellence deserves recognition now and then as well.
Full disclosure: I am a First Bank of Cherry Creek customer, but receive no special deals and wasn't asked to prepare or compensated in any way for this blog post.