I’m sitting in O’Hare Airport, on my way to Michigan’s beautiful upper-peninsula. My mission this week is to shop as many bank and credit union branches as I can in one day.

Here’s the catch, I already know what I’m going to experience. I’m going to walk into branches, tell them that I’m unhappy with my current checking account or bank and ask them what they have to offer.

Then, I’ll get…

The Brochure Handoff

At least 80% of the branches I walk into will do nothing to build a rapport or to start a conversation. They will mindlessly hear that I want info on a checking account and will hand me a brochure. The “best” of these may tell me about ALL of the products with no recommendation to meet my unique needs.  They will rush through the interaction, while I will likely be one of the only customers in the building.


At least one of the people “reading” the brochure to me, as if it was story time before my nap, will tell this 46-year-old man about their SENIOR checking account. I’ll get annoyed.

A Lesson in Operations

Some will tell me that they will need two forms of I.D. to open the account BEFORE they tell me about any accounts. Some credit unions will inform me that I will need to open a share account first. If I’m lucky, at least one person will tell me that I’ll be run through Chexsystems!

They’ll tell me about all of the hurdles but none of the benefits to opening this account.

Informed of All Their Fees

About half of those that actually have a conversation with me will tell me all about the fees that I’ll pay on the account. They will talk about what I need to do in order to avoid fees as if that was a true benefit.

Asked to Leave

I’ve come to their branch, through a predicted snowstorm. I have told them that I am unhappy with my current bank and motivated to change. I will have learned about their checking accounts. While I’m still standing there, showing interest, a handful of “sales people” will say,

“if you’d like to open an account, you can come back.”

In the rare instance that anyone tries to “close the sale,” this will be the most likely attempt.

Only the elite will ask me to open the account right now.

The Unicorn

Less than a handful will “make the cut.” They will ask me leading questions to learn why I am unhappy with my current bank and to better determine my needs. They will use that information to recommend ONE, maybe two product options. They will tell me how this account will benefit me and try to open the account immediately. They will treat me as if I’m a guest in their home and will lay the foundation of a lasting relationship. At best, they may even ask about what I do for a living, about my family or about my hobbies … then use that information to recommend products and services that I DIDN’T ask about.

Yep, I already know exactly what I’m going to get. The question is, which branches will give me each encounter and to what level is the good or bad experience. 

What experience will I get when I walk into YOUR branch?!?! Good or bad, the blame or credit falls on management. It all comes down to hiring, training and the tools provided. 

There is a reason that each experience happens, I’d be happy to share with you why.

Share this article with your frontline staff and see what service they think they’ll provide.

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