Last evening, as is my customary Wednesday-night ritual, I was paying bills and tending to personal financial matters. Just like every time, I logged into my Bank of America account online to check the balance of a credit card. To my surprise, I had apparently traveled to Europe and racked up $5,000 in hotel and airfare purchases.

While this development was nothing overly-concerning to me (a similar situation had happened a few years ago), the way that Bank of America handled the situation was.

I trust that with a company like Bank of America, with millions of customers, they receive phone calls like the one I was about to place on a near 24-hour basis. And, while this is probably “business as usual” to them, it almost always IS NOT to the victim of the financial fraud.

After I spent 25 minutes on the phone being passed from department to department, I finally got a representative on the phone who was supposed to help me. He didn’t. He then told me that the department that I really needed to speak with wouldn’t be back open until Monday at 9am.

So what were the big mistakes? Where do we begin?

First, never once did any B of A rep express regret for this happening or re-assure me that everything would be alright. For many, a financial snafu like this can be a terrifying situation. I can hear Suzy homemaker now… holy sh*t, some crook just ran up $5,000 on my credit card, am I going to be responsible for this? What am I going to do? Everyone associated with the credit fraud department should be aptly trained to reassure and calm customers. Empathy can go a LONG way when helping customers with problems.

Secondly, perhaps B of A might consider making their credit fraud department a 7-day per week operation? When someone discovers $5,000 in fraudulent purchases on a Sunday afternoon, do you think they really want to have to wait until Monday to be told they won’t be responsible for this? Just imagine if it was a debit card where the money is automatically deducted from your account? My contention is that if they can sell me a credit card 7 days per week, they should be able to serve existing customers 7 days per week. No?

Finally, as has become customary with most big companies, I was passed along from department to department pressing “2”, “5” or “1” without ever being able to talk with a live human being. Many of the new automated systems no longer allow you to press “0” to get a live operator.

So how did I respond? Simple, I let my money do the talking. I am in the process of closing my Bank of America credit card, and opening an account with American Express.

Bank of America’s top brass might want to spend just a little bit more time monitoring and improving how well his company serves customers and a little less time politicking in Washington, DC. In the new emerging economy, service will become even more important. Those that neglect this fact will do so at their own peril.

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