Recently I went to my bank to open a new account. Toward the end of the process, my personal banker leaned over his desk and said in a low voice, “I’d like to tell you something.”
I wasn’t sure how to respond to that comment, but I do carry mace.
“It’s about the surveys they send out, because I can see you’re not happy. ”
Oooh, he can see I’m not happy, but he’s only concerned about what I might say on an anonymous survey? Interesting. Proceed.
“That last survey you completed …”
I knew the survey he meant, but how did he? It was anonymous.
“… I know it was you because of the details.”
Seriously? Someone shared details of my anonymous survey with him? Weird. Mostly because the survey wasn’t about him.
“I just want you to know that any answer that’s less than a 9 or higher is interpreted as a 0, and we have to get 10 surveys with scores of 9 or higher to make up for a low survey. Also, those negative reviews are used against us, to deny us promotions or raises.”
Most of the time I say only good things on surveys. I rarely have fact-to-face interactions with my bank. In fact, anything I can do to avoid speaking to a bank manager or a personal banker … I do. Part of the reason for this is, if I need to accomplish something even slightly complex or out of the ordinary, invariably they give me the wrong information, fail to give me a critical piece of information, or I get it in the neck because they fill their own forms out incorrectly!
He went on in the face of my silence. Brave soul.
“I know the survey scores didn’t apply to me, because you said so in the note.”
The survey was general. It didn’t name anyone. It just asked about my experience that day. Since I’d gone to the bank multiple times and spoken to multiple people, I explained on the survey note what the problem was, who caused it, why it happened, and how it could be prevented in future. I wanted to make sure the bank understood I was giving both the person and the bank the low scores.
My experience had been negative because the bank’s manager didn’t know a specific regulation. It was information he didn’t use on a regular basis. So he gave me the information wrong. I get that, but it caused me two days of grief. It was a problem the bank could have avoided — if they’d given mangers access to a database that walked them through little used regulations.
“Well, I was as clear as possible,” I explained. Still not quite understanding why he was so upset over his manager’s low survey score — from 4 months ago.
“I know, but the survey unit didn’t care. They had sent the survey out to review only my actions.”
“I wasn’t told that.” I said. I remembered his actions. They were helpful, sort of. He forgot to tell me a critical piece of information that day and — as I was sitting there with him — that oversight came back to bite me. Hence my “not happy”-ness.
“The manager even called the head office and asked them to reassign the low scores to him. But they wouldn’t do it.”
“Well, I’m sorry for that,” I replied. I meant it, too.
I looked down at the coaster on his desk. The one that said “Great Bankers Conference.” It gave the name of fabulous tourist destination several thousand miles away. Always one to engage in pleasantries, I had asked him about the conference when we sat down. He had been sent, for the entire week-long affair, and it had been wonderful.
I wondered how much the survey had actually held him back if the bank had paid to send him to a week-long conference for great bankers just the previous week? Also, I wondered why his choosing to work for such a hard-nosed institution was my fault, or why that meant I couldn’t have an honest, clearly stated opinion about another person on an anonymous survey.
If you’re thinking, it can’t get worse. It did.
“I just wanted you to know. Because I can see you aren’t happy.”
Yes, and you’re scared they’ll send me another survey. I get that. But the “not happy” factor is your fault. Because I’ve just found out the information you neglected to give me in January, and now I realize this new info means a whole bunch of new hassle for me.
He went on.
“I mean, I don’t have any hard feelings about what happened or I wouldn’t serve you.”
Oh, that’s lovely. My personal banker is telling me he would get someone else to serve me if he didn’t like what I had said on an anonymous survey about another person. How on earth am I supposed to respond to that?
I dug deep.
“Well, if that’s how the surveys are used, just punitive tools to deny workers raises and promotions and the bank doesn’t actually care about improving its service to me,” I replied calmly, “I just won’t fill out any surveys.”
Not the answer he expected. I could tell by his slightly stunned expression. But I hadn’t done anything wrong. I felt no need to apologize or promise to make it up to him by giving him a good score next time.
At that point, the conversation ended. I assumed I had completed all the necessary steps to opening the account because he stood up and wished me well. So I stood up, shook his hand, and left.
Not long after leaving the bank, I had a call from a number I didn’t recognize. I let it go, but no voice mail was left. It happened 3 more times. Finally, 3.5 hours later, as I sat down to dinner, there came another call from the same number and this time they left a message.
“Hi, Indra. Sorry to bother you. This is your personal banker. I forgot to ask you what you wanted printed on your checks. Can you give me a call by tomorrow morning and let me know?”
Sigh. Eye rolling. Frowny face.
I wasn’t even surprised. This is the level of service — from a top global bank — to which, sadly, I have grown accustomed.
Possibly, if he’d been less concerned about getting me to give him a good score on the next survey and more concerned about doing the job he was supposed to, this wouldn’t have happened.
I called him back and told him what to put on the checks.
I’m glad I don’t have to go back on my word to him and answer the survey invitation that’s just arrived.
I can’t imagine he would still have a job after I mentioned he breached my anonymity, confessed his bank doesn’t use my survey to improve service, blamed me for his employer’s abusive practices, accused me of thwarting his raise and promotion, tried to shame me into giving him a good review, and then told me service at his bank is apparently based on someone “liking” me.
But I have to say, I felt the fact that the previous bad review I had specifically aimed at someone else missed its mark and hit him was rather poetic justice.