Why I Rarely Visit My Bank

By Kevin Flanagan, Director of Marketing, Micronotes

I don’t recall having a really bad customer service experience at a bank. I’m not counting my time working as a teller during college when I faced my share of angry customers.

I do most of my banking digitally, but the one thing that brings me to a branch is when I have cash to deposit. My old-school instincts won’t let me deposit a large amount of cash in an ATM. I worry that something will go wrong and I won’t be credited for the deposit.

My wife and I each received some large bills as holiday gifts. Rather than leave a few $100 bills sitting on our bureaus (we never carry anything larger than a $20), we decided to deposit them and earn a bit of interest.

On New Year’s Eve, at about 2:00 p.m., I went to the branch in my town. I won’t name the bank because I generally have a positive experience there. There were no customers in the lobby, so I expected to be in and out quickly. I filled out my deposit slip, was greeted by the manager, and made my way to the teller window.

There was only one teller working, as is often the case, but rather than greet me with a smile and take my deposit, the teller was on the phone. It was obvious she was speaking with an unhappy customer. She was polite and kept her cool, even when I could tell the customer was asking the same question repeatedly. So, I stood at the window, looking around and trying to act as if I weren’t listening.

After a few minutes, the manager went behind the counter to the teller’s window and said she could help me. She immediately apologized for the delay while she processed my transaction.

I realize it’s not reasonable for suburban bank branches to have tellers at every window every day, particularly around the holidays. But it’s also not reasonable to make a customer wait at the teller window for several minutes while the only teller is also handling customer complaints.

This visit to the branch did remind me why I do about 99 percent of my banking through digital channels. And it also reminded me why it’s so vital for banks to use technology—such as artificial intelligence machine learning—to engage with customers who typically conduct about 60 digital banking sessions for every one visit to a branch.