As a customer of any business, you expect a certain level of service when you encounter a problem or have a question. At banks, quality customer service is especially important to consumers because financial institutions are in the business of handling your hard-earned money.
Trying to reach a customer service representative through the labyrinth that is a bank's telephone menu can be an arduous process. To make matters worse, after sitting on hold for 20 minutes, you may not reach a satisfactory resolution when you connect with a customer service representative.
Fortunately, there are alternative ways to getting through to a bank's customer support team. Consider these means of communication.
Contact your local branch. More often than not, when you call a branch directly, a branch associate will answer the phone. However, branch bankers may not be able to address the issue.
For example, a branch associate may be able to refund an erroneous fee on your checking account, but he or she may not be able to provide assistance if you're asking for a credit limit increase or an interest rate reduction on your credit card.
Use social networks. Given the popularity of social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter, businesses are using them to expand and enhance their customer service operations. In fact, many banks have created social media teams to address concerns from customers.
In 2011, consumer advocate Kristen Christianthe founded Bank Transfer Day campaign on Facebook when Bank of America announced its plans to charge a $5 monthly debit card fee. The Facebook page garnered 40,000 "Likes," and a number of Bank of America debit card customers pledged to withdraw their money from the financial institution.
Since social networks serve as a public stage for customers to share their unpleasant experiences, it's within a bank's best interest to resolve such problems and protect its image.
Post a review. Online reviews are go-to resources for savvy shoppers interested in reviewing the experiences of a bank's customers before they purchase a product or service. As such, banks often reach out to negative reviewers in an effort to improve customer satisfaction.
MyBankTracker.com is home to more than 7,000 consumer bank reviews that encompass a wide range of experiences. Companies including U.S. Bank, BBVA Compass and PerkStreet Financial address problems that customers cite in negative online reviews. The initiative shows prospective customers the bank strives to deliver quality customer service.
Take your issue to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB, a federal agency that provides oversight of financial products and services, collects consumer complaints on financial companies. When a complaint is submitted, the bureau forwards it to the company for explanation or resolution.
With a federal agency breathing down their necks, banks are addressing complaints in a noteworthy fashion. Of the 75,400 complaints sent to companies by the CFPB in 2012,the CFPB reports companies have responded to roughly 95 percent of them and reported having closed 90 percent of them.
Simon Zhen is a columnist and staff writer for MyBankTracker.com, where he covers banking, financial technology and savings rates.