Many years ago (mid 70s to early 90s) I worked for a large bank with nationwide branches in all major cities and most significant communities including Wawa, Ontario!  In those early days of my career bank branches and their staff were members of the community and they took care of the farmers, business people, and all members of their town. Bank staff tried to make things work for their customers. Customer centric before the words were de rigueur.

My experience yesterday at another large bank branch requires me to speak out (and vent) about customer service.  I have found over the last number of years that banks are making it harder and harder for individuals (especially seniors and those with limited time) to accomplish what they want at their bank in a short amount of time.  It seems banks want us to fit with their policies, technologies and efficiencies, whether it works for us customers or not. Well the last straw for me, yesterday, was when I went into my mother’s bank branch where she has been a customer for 60 years to cash a U. S. cheque as she has been doing for probably 30+ years.  “Sorry, we have no cash, we are only an advisory center now.  You can deposit the U. S. cheques in the banking machine at the door and take out Canadian cash.”  I want US cash.  Can you set up a U. S. account to which I can deposit and withdraw in U.S. cash? “Well, yes, but we will need to do a credit check (even tho’ my mum has $1000’s on deposit with them) if you don’t want 10 day holds on those cheques (who says digital is fast???)”  And they did but it took almost an hour!  Sigh, as I said customer service in banking is dead it seems to me, unless you want to do things their way.  However, I now have things set up so I never have to go to my mother’s branch again — so much for customer relationships!

This is so different from libraries, as I said in my last post about community hubs! In the 70’s many public libraries were not known for their customer service, they were often about rules and policies that were perhaps not customer centric.  Today the world has changed.  Public libraries (as well as other types of libraries) definitely engage all levels of their communities — from babies and youngsters (storytime) to teens (makerspaces, idea & innovation or media labs) to seniors (new tech, social discussions & lectures), civil dialogue sessions for adults and more!  Libraries are the hubs of their communities, they ARE customer centric (here’s an example of one library) , and they provide terrific customer service — they care, as once the banks and their staff did.  If your experience is different, or similar, let me know!