The Second Part To A Horrifying Epic
I just had to bang out this article while it was all still fresh in my mind.
The general consensus on sequels are that the original is always better. The sequel is never quite as good, and sometimes it’s not even wanted in the first place.
Well, I can safely say that I never wanted to write a sequel to my previous post, “Crazy Eights: Eight Crazy Customers In One Crazy Day”. And why would I? It was just a story of eight nasty customers that came into the bank in a single day.
And yet, here we are. Here I am. Writing the sequel.
So without further ado:
1) I need more training
Like Son Goku from Dragon Ball, I need more training. Apparently.
Okay, so as I was doing some, ugh, lobby greeting, when a customer asks me about opening a business account. No problem, we talk about it for a few minutes, and he says he’s going to come sit down with me once he’s done on the teller line.
This is Customer A.
So a couple minutes later, I take a quick trip to the back to go to the bathroom. When I come out, there’s two customers waiting for service. Customer A and Customer B.
“Can I help whoever’s next?” I ask.
“I’m next,” says Customer B.
“No, I was here first,” says Customer A.
“There was no one here when I was sat down,” replies Customer B.
“I was in the bank first. I already spoke to this gentleman,” says Customer A.
Now, both customers do have a valid claim to the coveted title of “Next”. Customer A was in the branch first, well before Customer B. Customer A had been on the teller line and did speak to me, again all before Customer B stepped into the building.
But Customer B was sitting down for the platform first.
So Customer B, determined to be my first problem of the day, decides to start getting snippy. He starts demanding why we don’t have a sign-in sheet. All other banks have a sign-in sheet, after all (not really, no)! Wouldn’t that be common sense to have a sign-in sheet?
We don’t have a sign-in sheet because, for some reason, we still naively expect our customers to behave like grown adults and not fight over who’s next.
Customer B eventually just stamps his foot like a child having a temper tantrum (fitting as I’m dealing with a child having a temper tantrum) and tells Customer A to go next, but keeps throwing his temper tantrum and telling me that he should be next.
So eventually I do the only thing I can do. I give up.
As diplomatically as I can, I tell them, “Look, guys, just decide among yourselves whoever’s gonna be next, and that person can come with me. I’m not going to be the authority on this one. It’s up to you guys.”
Customer A’s thoughts? Great idea! Remember, he has just as much claim to being next as Customer B, so he’s at no advantage. Customer B?
“Oh, don’t gimme that bulls***! I already told him to go first! You know what you need? You need some more training!”
I need more training? Training in what? How to deal with stunted manchildren? What to do when grown adults bicker over things that most actual children would consider beneath them?
Fine. Sure thing. I need more “training”.
The kicker? We’re about 45 minutes into the day!
2) Wah! I’ve been sitting in my air conditioned car for five whole minutes!
I go to the back to have a transaction done by the teller in the drive-thru. There are three cars. Well, two. The third came after I put my transaction down for the teller to do.
Now, the teller in the back was taking a long time. She’s still pretty new, and one of the other customers had complicated transactions. I don’t think we should allow many of these complicated transactions in the drive-thru (frankly, I don’t think banks should have drive-thrus), but whatever. It is what it is.
So the third guy wasn’t there too too long. Maybe ten minutes. I’ve waiting longer for buses in the rain, so forgive my complete lack of sympathy. Especially when he paged the teller to ask, “What’s the holdup back there!?”
“I’m sorry, sir,” the teller replied. “I’m just finishing up with this customer. They were here first. I’ll be working on your transaction momentarily. Thank you for your patience.”
“Don’t thank me for my patience! Just get my transaction done,” said the guy. “It’s because you only have one teller back here, that’s why it’s taking you so damn long!”
Now, I know this teller. She’s as nice as they come. She’s still new and young and eager to please. Customer service is still exciting to her. She still has the brainwashing of employee orientation in her, and she still views these supposed five reasons to consider a customer service job at face value rather than as reasons to avoid them (“Interaction with the public” is not a benefit of a customer service job, as you can plainly see).
So I can already recite what her response would have been:
“I’m so sorry about that, sir! Your transaction will be completed momentarily!”
Instead, we did things my way.
I walked up to the mic, shut it off, and told her, “Don’t respond to him. Don’t argue with him. Just take care of everything so we can get him out of here. Don’t even tell him goodbye, because that will give him an opportunity to b****.”
Lo and behold, I was right. I didn’t even look at the guy in the car, but he didn’t page the teller back. She did the transaction, sent him his receipt and cash, and he drove off.
Maybe the way I handled things isn’t the proper customer service-y way to go about things, but sometimes your mental health comes before customer satisfaction. And sometimes, just muting them and tuning them out is better than beating your head against a brick wall.
3) You know we don’t have a teller storage closet, right?
When I was going to the back for another transaction for my next customer, the manager was handing out snacks to the people waiting on the teller line.
For some reason, we had long lines all day today.
When things are as busy as they are, sometimes my manager will hand out snacks. And now we will get a firsthand glimpse on why “Lobby Leadership” is BS.
You see, part of it is supposed to be about engaging the customers and distracting them from the wait. It sometimes works, and it sometimes just provokes them instead.
So as I was going back there, this guy starts arguing with the manager, telling him that he would prefer “service over snacks”.
Hey, my friend, fair enough. We don’t like long lines either. We’d rather get you out of here than hand you an ice cream sandwich or a bag of chips, trust me.
But then a woman pipes in and asks, “Can’t you guys get more cashiers out here?”
Tellers. You mean tellers. Cashiers ring up your groceries. Tellers process your banking transactions.
But to answer the question, no. The answer is no. It will always be “no”.
Grumble at the “poor customer service” or whatever you want, but think about it logically. If we had more tellers available, then wouldn’t they be out there doing your transactions and knocking down that line? Why would we just have tellers not doing anything for the sake of not doing anything?
If tellers or other bank staff are not taking transactions, that means they are not available. They could be:
- finishing up a previous transaction
- doing vault
- on lunch
- balancing ATMs
- servicing some other issue
But I swear to you, none of them are sitting in the back drinking a bottle of scotch and laughing about how much you’re suffering by waiting on the line. If it sounds like I’m saying that “Can you bring more tellers out here?” is a stupid question, it’s because “Can you bring more tellers out here?” is a stupid question. If there were tellers that were available to take your transaction, they’d be doing so already. And if one comes out in five minutes, that means that they became ready and available during the course of those five minutes.
F***ing stupid-a** questions.
So that’s what’s going on as I walk into the back to have the drive-thru teller do two transactions for me. A guy arguing with the manager about the line and some woman setting back gender equality by a hundred years with one stupid-a** question.
When my transactions are finally done, that same guy is arguing with the teller about how long he had to wait! He’s still f***ing there!
Don’t you have somewhere to be, a**hole? If the wait in line is such a huge issue, why are you so determined to stay in the bank for as long as possible?
The woman is gone. Thank God, I get to keep part of my IQ today.
Guys, asking stupid questions and arguing with every employee you can about your alleged 25 minute wait (very possible with how busy it was today) won’t make things go any quicker.
Instead, why don’t you use ATMs to withdraw cash? Online banking to transfer money? Mobile banking to deposit checks? You know you don’t actually have to wait “25 minutes on this huge line”, right?
4) Chill out, Granny. You made it to the teller
Thankfully, no bank employees were involved in this one. Unfortunately, one of our regular customers was.
An older woman is sitting in the waiting area for the platform, so I approach her and see if she needs help with anything. She does not. Awesome.
So I send out a couple of docs that need sending out, and then I swing over to the lobby for some lobby greeting (did I mention “ugh” before?).
All of a sudden, I hear someone’s raised voice. I look up to see the woman from before at the teller window, but she’s looking behind her and getting all nasty with the next customer on line (one of our regulars and one of our really nice customers).
Apparently, she had been waiting for a teller when she was sitting down. She reserved her place on the line, but sat down because she couldn’t physically stand for too long.
That’s perfectly normal. We have elderly and disabled customers who do that all the time.
So when our regular customer went up to the teller window, the old customer lost what few marbles she had left and started getting rude with our regular customer, who I said before is one of our nicer customers.
I didn’t hear the whole exchange, but I heard our regular “angrily apologizing”. You know what I mean. “Geez, I’m sorry. How was I supposed to know you were next if you were sitting down over there looking through your pocketbook?”
And she’s completely in the right.
She didn’t fight the old woman, and I didn’t jump in because there’s no way I could do anything but make the situation way worse for the bank.
But seriously, this was an elderly woman. Fighting like a child over a place in line, which is exactly the sort of thing a child would fight over (mind you, this old woman was at the teller and still kept turning around to give our regular a piece of her mind). I’ve written about which generation is the most entitled before, but it’s really sad to watch a grown adult get that angry over a spot on the teller line in a bank.
Me and the regular customer were chatting later. She was saying she needs to get out of this city. I need to get out of customer service.
5) No, your non-proof of address isn’t proof of address
So two guys come in. One of them is doing the speaking because the other one speaks no English and just recently came to this country. They want to open an account for the recent immigrant.
This guy has for his ID and proof of address:
- An expired passport with a stamp on one of the pages that says “This passport is good until 2019”
- An expired US visa inside the passport
- A print out of a recent address change confirmation with another bank to an out of state address
So here’s what I explain to him:
- The passport is expired. Having a stamp that says otherwise is not good enough for us. I’ve never seen a passport go from expired to not expired with a stamp. He needs an actual valid passport. Of course, even if we could accept the stamp……
- ……his visa is expired. I don’t care what his immigration status is. The documents expired in 2016 (both the visa and the passport) and it’s 2017. We require two forms of ID if you’re using a foreign passport.
- Proof of address is a utility bill or a cable/Internet bill. It’s something that directly services the house. A piece of mail isn’t proof of address because anybody can route their mail anywhere. Plus, the bank requires the address to be within its “market area”, meaning that you have to open an account at a branch in at least the same city as you. Certainly not from one state over.
So, of course, the guy wants to fight me on this. “What does it matter that the address is out of state?”
Proper proof of address is important because criminals hone in on banks to create impostor accounts using fake addresses, and then redirect the mail to a place that they have full control over but doesn’t reflect where they actually live (or can be connected to). And having an out of state address makes no business sense. Why was this person in my branch if they just recently moved out of state?
This is an account opening that would make no sense. And so it wasn’t happening.
Plus, bank statements and the like aren’t proof of address. Half the address on a bank’s systems are outdated. How do I know? Hi, nice to meet you all. My name is ARB, the Angry Retail Banker.
The guy also wanted to fight me over the passport, but I wasn’t having it.
He demanded to speak to the manager. The manager had a customer, but I told them they could have a seat and he would be with them shortly.
The guy, being stupid, asked again why the address was such a big deal. So I started to explain to him again before he stood up and went, “Whatever, I don’t need you to explain all this to me. Just forget it.”
Apparently you do need me to explain it all to you. Multiple times since your defective brain is incapable of understanding this information. And don’t get your tampons twisted if I’m answering a question that you asked me.
Needless to say, no account was opened for anyone. They didn’t even sit down with the manager.
6) Somebody was wasting time, that’s true
Nearing the end of the day, this guy comes to my desk, looking for information about mortgages.
Most banks don’t have a Mortgage Loan Officer (MLO) who sits inside each branch. And MLO now covers a region. My bank is no different.
I tell the guy this, but let him know that I can try to answer any questions he has to the best of my ability. Ultimately, though, I’ll have to route him to an MLO.
So we talk for a few minutes about construction mortgages before I’m out of answers for him and have to refer him to the MLO.
Now, I can tell you that different banks have different referral policies when it comes to mortgage referrals, investment referrals, private banking referrals, payment services referrals, and whatever other referrals you can imagine. I know this as a potential mortgage borrower as well as from working at a bank.
Some banks will call the MLO on the spot. Some put something through the system so that it generates a request to call or email you. Some require you to sign a consent form. Some require the referring representative to read you a long list of contact-based disclosures. One bank that I went to when shopping around for a mortgage actually put me in a separate conference room where I had a video chat with the MLO.
The bank I work for requires customers to sign a consent form that we keep on file. And also, putting the referral in through the system (which generates the consent form) is the only way for us to get referral credit for it. Customers will conveniently forget the name of the representative who made the referral seconds after a lengthy conversation with that person.
That’s where this guy turned extremely unlikable.
“What do you mean I have to sign a form!? I don’t want you to run my credit. I just want to speak to the MLO,” he said, immediately after being told that he would have to sign a document called a “Consent To Call Form” (what do you think you’re signing, you idiot!?). “Just give me his number and I’ll call him.”
“Sir, we’re not running your credit. In order to do a referral, we have to have you sign a consent form,” I said.
“I don’t want to go through all that. Just get him on the phone now.”
“No, sir, we have our policies. We have to have a consent form on file. It takes two minutes. If you want, once that’s done and everything’s in the system, I can try to get him on the phone,” I offered.
He conceded, and two minutes later, I had the consent form printed out.
He takes one look at this form and says, “That’s too much for me. Never mind.”
Never mind? You mean, you didn’t know you were going to have to sign something after we just had a whole conversation and argument about it? You’re too young to have dementia, buddy.
He goes on again about how he’s not having his credit run, while I tell him again that we need to have a consent to call form signed in order for an MLO to call him. I show him that the form literally says “Mortgage Referral Consent To Call” at the top.
After having a snippy attitude throughout the conversation, he shoots up and goes, “Forget it. I’m not interested. I don’t want to deal with you if you’re going to waste my time.”
“Bye,” was my only response.
I wasn’t going to grace his stupidity with a response. That’s what this blog is for.
And so here we go!
I’m wasting his time? You sure it’s not the other way around? The fact that I needed him to sign a consent form was one of the first things I told him. He knew it, he agreed to it, he sat there for the 120 or seconds it took me to input his information and generate the form. Don’t argue bank policy with me because it’s just going to waste your time. I can’t imagine what would have happened if he actually spoke to an MLO. He could barely understand me when I was telling him that we needed a signed consent form.
Yes, I know that “it’s not like you’re asking us to run your credit or anything”, but I’m explaining to you what our policies and procedures are. I can’t imagine this guy going through the whole mortgage process. For a construction loan, too! I don’t envy the MLO that has to explain to this guy how construction loans work, nor can I imagine someone with such shoddy listening skills and even shoddier levels of patience making it through a construction project successfully.
And he’s gonna be mighty disappointed when he goes into other banks and can’t get a conversation with an MLO to happen on the spot as well.
What can I say? The general public sucks. Customer service sucks.
If you get a chance, take a look at the #customerservice on Twitter. Then go on Google and look up retail or customer service blogs. Then Youtube some customer service videos.
You’ll notice a trend.
The articles/videos/social media posts about the importance of good customer service, how to build good customer service skills, how to make an angry customer into a loyal fan, and all that other stuff are all retail consultants. Or division/regional heads. Or business analysts. So on and so forth.
The articles/videos/social media posts about how much customers and customer service sucks, about true customer service horror stories, about stories of employee abuse by a customer that was sanctioned or ignored by the company, come from retail workers.
It seems easy to love and cheer on customer service when you don’t see, hear, or deal with the customers.
Customers may “bring us the business”, but they are the number #1 obstacle in making it through the day and getting a paycheck for the retail employee. Seems ironic, seems weird, and yet it’s true.
I’m not saying one side is right and one side is wrong when it comes to customer service. All I’m saying is that it’s easier to dictate that someone else jump into “the trenches” and man “the front lines” than to do it yourself.
A retail consultant tells others how to maximize each customer interaction. A retail employee tells others how to survive each customer interaction.
Just something for all the “professional customer service experts” to keep in mind.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go help this customer. *dons bulletproof vest, checks first-aid kit, sends will to lawyer*
Readers–What do YOU think!? Is there a disconnect in customer service attitudes between those who deal with the public and those who don’t? Can either group be said to truly be in the “right” or “wrong”? What about the customers that came into the bank, and the ones I dealt with in my previous article? What’s YOUR worst customer service story? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!