I think I just saw Mickey Mouse with his head off, smoking a cigarette and cussing like a sailor!


I think I just saw Mickey Mouse with his head off, smoking a cigarette and cussing like a sailor!


I am so disillusioned. But its a great lesson for banks and credit unions.

I’m a USAA member. They have had all of my insurance for decades and they’ve been flawless. I’ve even written about how they are the Disney of banking. But I, unfortunately, found the kink in their armor and its like seeing Mickey out of character.

My family is buying a new home. I’ve been working with USAA on the mortgage since we first put our current house on the market back in October. In the beginning, I shopped around for rates on websites, but I’m with USAA … who can beat them, right? I’m loyal and I trusted them and I was sure that I was getting the best deal. “Was” being past tense.


It’s clear that the insurance folks at USAA have some super, uber-amazing, too-good-to-be-true, Disney-like service training that apparently hasn’t filtered its way down to the mortgage department. With Mortgage, I only received inconsistent communication, unclear and misleading information and a feeling that I was bothersome to the mortgage processor as I tried to make the largest purchase that will ever make (I’m dying in this house!!!). It’s smoking Mickey.

In the end, when we FINALLY saw what we needed to bring to closing it was waaaaayyyy off-base from what we expected. I admit, that I made a huge mental error, but that error would have been fixed in communication had my mortgage processor LISTENED to our conversations.

Enough about me. Two lessons from USAA:
1) I work in banking. I’ve been a bank marketer for well over a decade. I understand mortgages better than most folks on the other side of your desk … And I screwed up. I misunderstood. I NEEDED to be talked to like a child – not like someone who’s been working in mortgages for 20 years.

If I can misunderstand after this long in the industry, your customers sure can too.

Whether we’re opening a checking account, helping someone plan for retirement or settling them into a 30-year loan, we need to LISTEN first. Understand their goals.

EVERY conversation that I had with USAA talked about closing on the loan using only the proceeds from the sale of my current house. Somewhere along the line, my mortgage “expert” should have stopped and mentioned that wasn’t going to work with their offer. Instead I found out a week before closing.

2) We have departments that often work in silos. Often times, its our investments, insurance and mortgage. Your brand is only “true” when it is consistent across EVERY touchpoint. And, in my eyes, the brand that USAA spent 20 years creating with me has been tarnished due to one of their silos.

Evaluate the service level and customer experience in all of your departments. Because one interaction can undo two decades worth of work and investment.

So, what happened? One week from closing on the loan, and I chose to switch mortgage companies. I found someone who would LISTEN and was able to offer exactly what I had asked USAA for 5 months ago. They also understood our timing predicament and are working hard to be ready to close in 3 weeks. If you’re in the Dayton, Ohio area and want a mortgage, call me, I have a GREAT guy now. You see, when you make this kind of a difference in a customer’s life, they’re willing to tell everyone about it!

If you find it fun and helpful, please share this blog with your colleagues. Also, check out our YouTube Channel for short video blogs about financial marketing.  
In addition to being a strategic consultant, MarketMatch is also a nationally and internationally requested speaker. Contact us to bring our marketing ideas to your next conference.
Follow me on Twitter @egagliano