SCCU … Why I Need to Change Bank
Thinking of your need to change bank? You’re not alone. According to a J.D. Power and Associates survey released in February this year, 9.6 percent of customers had switched banks during the past 12 months. That figure is on the rise, up from 8.7 percent in 2011 and 7.7 percent in 2010, according to the survey.
My wife and I recently decided to downsize our home and purchase a smaller but newer home. Therefore, we needed to evaluate home financing and its source. We were never completely happy with our current mortgage provider and banking service, Space Coast Credit Union (SCCU).
This is a three part series. Here are the first two parts:
More to think about: Customer Service Tips … How to Take Charge with Basics
The clincher came when I called to talk about options and interest rates. I did my homework: I checked rates online, pulled my credit report, and ran a quick home valuation so I could approach them with solid numbers. Unfortunately, the rate they offered me was nowhere near their best.
Whether for your mortgage, your day-to-day banking, or your savings and retirements, banks are in the business of customer service. And, when your bank is no longer giving you what you need, it might be time to reconsider your relationship.
And while reasons for switching banks vary, experts warn that certain indicators mean you should leave your current bank, and do so quickly.
There are numerous reasons I have considered in evaluating whether to change my bank:
Change bank … bad customer service
Other than finding a new mortgage provider, bad customer service was the biggest driver for us finding a new banking service. SCCU offered perks and an adequate experience at first, but customer service has dwindled over the years. Whatever the reason, if you feel like your customer service experience is lacking, we certainly felt we could do better.
Some customer service features we put on our list:
- A wide range of customer service hours, both in-person and over the phone
- Positive face-to-face interactions with employees at the bank
- Quick resolution of potential issues (for example, canceling your card when you lose it and promptly sending a new one)
- Branch amenities, such as ATMs and branch hours, and a wide range of in-house services, such as ordering checks, making deposits, checking balances, transfers, and small business banking
- Raise your hand if you don’t have time to stay on hold on the phone for an hour to resolve a bank issue. Customer service like this often has you doing a #facepalm and asking yourself why?
When to move on
If bank personnel doesn’t seem interested in improving your experience, as in our case, we visited the physical branches of a couple of other banks in town and looked at online banks.
Do you find that every time you walk into your current bank, you get greeted (or ignored) by a stressed-out staff? Are you asked to repeat your account number three times in a 10-minute span? Do your questions on banking remain unanswered?
A banking relationship is much like any other relationship. If you are unhappy with the way you are being treated, you can do something about it. That is what SCCU doesn’t realize, or just doesn’t care.
Fees, fees, and more fees
Currently, larger banks seem to be making a push to increase fee revenue to offset the loss of credit card fees associated with regulatory changes.
Apparently, this is the case as we are seeing new charges popping up, such as maintenance fees on debit cards and checking accounts, ATM fees, online banking fees and transaction fees.
While banks vary, we found that local institutions have lower costs and are more hesitant to introduce such fees. Our study compared our long-term credit union (where we have banked for 40 years) with SCCU (where we have banked for 13+ years). It was amazing to us how many differences existed in both fee structure and little processes that influenced our customer experiences. I think I will document them all in a future blog.
Bank fees are pesky and downright unpleasant. Plus, checking fees, ATM fees, and overdraft charges can add up quickly. In fact, in 2016 big banks made a killing from such fees — $33 billion in overdraft fees alone. That was an amazing data point to us.
And, it’s not just the big banks that ding you with fees. You’ll need to be careful when you open an account with any financial institution. While we were a big proponent of credit unions, it turns out that SCCU included many fees that were not easily discoverable.
We were moving
Another reason that we wanted to consider changing banks is location. Some banks have more locations than others, and you want to choose a bank that is the most convenient for us. Even if they have cheaper fees, we may not be able to justify paying the gas to drive over to them every time that you need something. In our area, it seems there are banks on every corner. If you have to drive by several banks just to get to yours, it may not be in your best interest to continue working with them.
No love for long-time clients
Your bank nickels and dimes you to death. This wouldn’t be a problem if we were talking actual nickels and dimes, but banking fees can be onerous. A report by The Pew Charitable Trusts earlier this year concluded that the median overdraft penalty is currently $35, which means that if you buy, say, lemonade for $5, it could cost you $40. The one for SCCU is $30, and as we have previously noted, they charge if the withdrawal is 10 minutes ahead of the deposit on the same day. That fact annoyed me, as this could be fixed with a simple software change.
Your bank isn’t very personable. You probably don’t expect your bank manager to invite you to her birthday party, but you don’t want to be kicked when you’re down either. A friend of ours recalls when her bank began penalizing her by charging $5 per month for not having direct deposit.
At the time – it was 2012, the friend, then a librarian was between jobs.
She asked for them to waive the fee while job hunting, but the answer was no. That stung because she had been a customer for 12 years and had always used direct deposit. This wasn’t the only gripe she’d had about her bank, but it was the last straw.
But a few months later, she landed a new librarian job and could have set up direct deposit and avoided the fee. Instead, feeling unappreciated, she switched to a different bank.
I also get annoyed when I see a commercial for one of the banks I use that’s advertising perks for new customers only. I want to know, what do the long-time customers get for being so loyal over the years? That’s why I’m immediately suspicious of banks that constantly offer new bank customer perks – what does that say about how they treat their longstanding clients?
SCCU wasn’t willing to listen to my input and showed little love to a long-time customer. They didn’t value my 13 years of loyalty and showed they just didn’t care.
So don’t give your loyalty to a business that doesn’t show love/loyalty to you. Find a bank with better customer service. That is what we did, and we found some of those new customer benefits when we made the switch.
Already bank with another institution?
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with spreading your accounts around, it can get confusing when you’re managing multiples of the same type of account (such as a checking account) at different banks. Make things less complicated by finding your favorite bank and combining accounts. We compared our two credit unions and moved 99% of our business to the best one.
Change bank … when you just want more
Sometimes there doesn’t necessarily need to be something wrong with your bank. In the last few years, I opened new bank accounts because I was enticed by cool incentives and modern features online-only banks were offering.
More to learn: Stunning Customer Service Lessons and Their Examples
For instance, some banks offer easier ways to save money and early direct deposit features. These days there are plenty of banking options that are in step with your needs and help, not hinder your savings goals.
The bottom line
We all know that breaking up is hard to do, but when it comes to your money, your convenience and satisfaction should be a top priority. With so many options, from traditional banks to online institutions, there’s no reason to stick with an unsatisfactory bank. Either try to make it right or make a clean break – but do what’s best for you.
Have you ever had to break up with your bank? What was the reason?
Need some help in building better customer service for your customers? Have you noticed the growing importance of customer service you provide, especially for your marketing? Creative ideas to help enhance your word of mouth marketing?
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Call Mike at 607-725-8240.
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Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he writes about topics to help improve the performance of small business. Find him on G+, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
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