How to Lose Opportunities

Posted: October 27, 2011 in Uncategorized
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I was called by a survey company agent yesterday on behalf of my business bank, Bank of Montreal. They did the same thing about two years, and nothing changed in my responses in those two years. Essentially, while I’m happy with the service I get when I ask for it, the bank doesn’t know I exist otherwise.

One of the questions I was asked: “Why do you say you’re not fully satisfied with Bank of Montreal’s service?” (or words to that effect) Well, for starters, no one ever contacts me, other than this campy survey every two years. If they had investigated my previous responses, they would have contacted me and asked for more details.

I have no concerns for myself, because I have a good team of advisors and I’ve educated myself to find the best financial products and services. But, for the bank, you have to ask how many opportunities they’re letting flit by. What if someone were to call me on a quarterly basis to know how things were going, to ask me if all my needs were being met? Perhaps I need business or personal insurance? Perhaps I need a different type of business credit card, or travel coverage, or a line of credit instead of a higher limit on my card? How would they know if they don’t call me up, or ask me to come and visit them so we can talk about my wants and–more importantly–my needs?

If they’re basically ignoring me, then that means they are ignoring thousands of other small business owners, consultants, professional service firms, and self-employed workers. How many opportunities are they leaving to competitors? It’s not my concern, but the fact that no bank seems to be truly interested in accompanying small business owners is indicative of what one author in the 80s called the syndrome of “towers of gold, feet of clay.” Banks are like deer in the headlamps. They are risk averse, they are slow to react, and when they do, it usually means an overreaction, such as freezing credit, even though most businesses are still good risks.

Personally, I don’t care if the Bank of Montreal gets my business or someone else’s. I chose them as a business bank when I was starting out over 5 years ago simply because they answered the phone and seemed to be genuinely interested in my business (as compared to the ridiculous hoops CIBC wanted me to jump through, for instance). They have done nothing since then to build my loyalty or to generate additional revenue by offering additional services or products. I keep my accounts there because of habit, and because they haven’t compelled me to vote with my feet.

But if someone else came a-courting, I may be tempted.

Richard Martin brings to bear his military and business leadership experience to help executives and organizations exploit change, maximize opportunities, and minimize risks.

© 2011 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes permitted with full and proper

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