I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write this post because I didn’t want to come across as a total hypocrite. I’m always writing about the importance of kindness and how much I believe kindness can change the world, and now I’m about to complain about it. But not really, I guess. Judge for yourself.
There are a couple of establishments that go out of their way to be ‘nice’ to their customers. One of those establishments is my local bank that I have avoided for months due to their inquisitive customer service reps. Whenever I walk in I’m greeted by someone yelling, “Welcome to XYZ bank!” I’m usually not sure what to do so I end of smiling at the person who said it. In some cases I want to yell back, “THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YELLING ACROSS THE BANK TO WELCOME ME BUT IT’S NOT NECESSARY. IN FACT, IT MAKES ME A LITTLE UNCOMFORTABLE.”
I digress. Not only does the first incident happen, it usually gets better when I walk up to the teller. Customary standards say to swipe my card first so I usually have my card in hand when they tell me to go ahead and swipe. Then comes the fun part. It goes a little something like this:
Teller: How is your day going so far?
Me: Good so far. No complaints.
Teller (not going fast enough for my impatient self): Oh that’s good. What have you done so far today?
Me (thinking): WHAAAAT?
Me (really): Um, not much. I’m taking a break from work right now.
Teller: Oh, how nice. What do you do for work?
Me (thinking): I don’t want to tell you because you’re starting to creep me out.
Me (really): I work from home.
Teller: Got any plans for the weekend?
Me (thinking): Gosh, the next time I’m in here I need to place a secret note in the ‘management box’ telling them to cut the 24 questions.
Me (really): Not really. Thanks so much for your help.
To some degree this happens every time I’m in this particular bank. I think my favorite incident was after Christmas one year when I got a check from a relative. I decided to cash it and walked in the bank instead of going directly to the ATM. Big mistake. The teller pretty much went through the conversation above and then after cashing the check asked, “Was this a Christmas present?”
Okay, now is it just me or is this crossing some sort of line? What if the check was from an alimony payment or some other really personal matter?
I realize that to some degree this is my own stuff coming up. I am private in a lot of ways. I’ve talked about good service in the past and I think A LOT of people would classify this as ‘good’ service. The teller is engaged, social, connected. But to me it comes across as a selling technique rather than genuine interest. Especially when after they ask me a question they look at their monitor and try to figure out a way to ask me if I’d like to open a credit card.
I realize you can’t have it all when it comes to customer service. And I guess I should be thankful that ALL the tellers at this particular bank smile when I walk up to do my transaction. Now whether that smile is genuine is another subject, but at least their Sales Training Manager has taught them how to respect customers. I’ll give them that.
I’d like to end this post by telling you that today I had to go inside the bank for a transaction. I really don’t think I’ve been since last Christmas when things got a little too personal and awkward for my taste. I walked up to the teller dreading what questions I was going to be asked: “Where have you been?” “What are you doing after this?” “Who is your husband’s best friend?”
I was taken aback when she smiled, said hello, asked what she could help me with, ran through my transaction and told me to have a nice day. Ah, I couldn’t have asked for anything better.