Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Is there anything I can do to help?

Yesterday, after 45 years as a loyal customer, I closed my Bank of America account. NO “Thank you for so many years of loyalty and income,” no attempt to keep me—nothing. #Fail. Just one of many, I suspect. That’s what I tweeted in 140 characters yesterday. The response from an “official Bank of America Twitter rep” was as follows:

I work for Bank of America. What happened? Is there anything I can do to help?

Yes, there are things you could do to help and it was nice to hear from you, but let me tell you a story first. This is a story I tell of “people that impacted my career.”

Out of college in 1967, I interviewed for jobs at various corporations: IBM and Bank of America among others. Bank of America wanted me to work writing for their newsletter. I wanted a job as a programmer, tested well, and was hired as one of the first five women in Systems and Equipment Research. Not long after I was hired, there was a luncheon for all of the recently hired bank officers…and me (as they paid programmers comparably to bank officers back then). At the luncheon, presided over by Claire Giannini Hoffman (the daughter of the founder, A.P. Giannini), she asked each of us what we did. Most talked of the branch where they worked. I explained I was a programmer, using Cobol on their IBM 360 (the first outside of IBM at the time). Her response to me: “I know computers are important and the wave of the future, but never forget they serve people.

Simple comment. Over my career, it’s been an underlying theme for me that computers and automation need to be used to serve people.

So, yes , you—or more importantly, the people at the branch—could have looked me in the eye, instead of just at their computer screen, when I asked to close my account. They could have said, “Sorry to see you go after 45 years.” They could have said, “Is there anything we can do to keep you?” (and the money you’ve made for years as I keep my balance high enough to avoid charges). And they could’ve NOT charged me $10 to write a cashier’s check. Really? Really?!?

But then they would be serving people instead of their computers and rules.

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