“Above and Beyond” service often comes down to the management of a particular location, rather than an individual employee, no matter how big or otherwise problematic a company may be. Fred had such an experience with Venkatesh, the overseas customer service rep he reached when he called to cancel his ancient Citibank account. Venkatesh not only talked him out of canceling the account, but was so competent and nice in the process that Fred felt compelled to speak to his supervisor and write to Consumerist.
Banks get a bad rap these days, and many deserve the criticism. Today, however, Citibank saved me as a customer by gracefully and reasonably dealing with my issue. The back story is what makes this interesting.
I clearly remember opening my account in 1977 at the age of 14 with my first $200. Back then it was called First National City Bank and was the only institution with ATM devices. Because I was under 18, my account was flagged as a minor and service charges were waived. Well, that setting lasted until this month when I finally got hit with checking account fees! Can you believe that I got away with service fees for 32 years! The nerve of some people :)
Since this has become my secondary account, I called them to cancel. Venkatesh, the outsourced, overseas CSR noticed that my account was from the dark ages. In fact, it was configured as close to a passbook account as you can get these days. He quickly suggested another checking account option that will work just fine for avoiding fees and does not require changing my account number, (which is much shorter than what they give out these days). I’m not kidding when I say that Venkatesh was really excited to save a long term customer. I could hear the inflections in his voice. He did such a good job that I asked to speak with his supervisor to personally extend my thanks and compliments for such a good job.
So, chalk one up for Citibank in this age of impersonal banking and customer service.
Hire the right people, train them well, and you’ll have satisfied customers who don’t want to leave. Simple enough in theory, but hard to do in practice. Evidently.
Not that everyone can get personal satisfaction from their work as a bank customer service rep. Maybe Venkatesh is an aspiring actor.