Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Broken Systems...Broken Truck

Broken Systems...Loss of Customer Focus/Fees...Wells Fargo...
The Wells Fargo CEO is going to forego $41,000,000 in stock options.  Under his direction employees opened false accounts for customers to meet their sales goals. They fire 1% of their employees every years.  Jack Welsh, the over-rated former CEO of GE, encouraged the replacement of 1/3 of GE's employees every year.  Some of the Wells Fargo employees fired for being 'honest' are moving for a class action suit.  I wish them well.

Recently we changed the credit card processing service for our small business.  We were working one day a month just for that cost (from Wells Fargo).  After changing credit card processors our costs dropped in half.  When I called Wells Fargo to terminate that service they asked "why did you change?"  When I said 'cost,' they followed with "did you ask for an account review to see if we could lower costs?"  

In this increasingly software-driven world it would have been simple to index or change our fees to the competition, lower it because we were a good client, or just remain competitive.  

It seems that large companies get on this income stream of regular customers.  I'm sure 90% of us don't shop prices on things we should.  

More Broken Systems...Wells Fargo/Customer Service...
Yesterday I logged on to transfer money from Wells Fargo for a 100 year old relative to pay a few of her bills.  Wells Fargo recently updated their web sites.  They're very mobile friendly now but certainly not a functional improvement.  I was unable to access the account.  After an hour on the phone with three people I could not understand they said they'd call back.  When they did I had my phone on speaker so I could talk and type at the same time.  There were some background conversations going on and the Wells Fargo person said they could not continue talking with me if I was on a speaker phone.  "You asked me to log in and stay on the phone.  How would you suggest I do that?"  "I cannot speak if you are on speakerphone."  It was at that point that I decided I am closing my relative's Wells Fargo account.  I was able to finally see the account and said "This problem only started after the new web site deployment.  Was that part of the problem?"  "Sir, if you can see the account now you may make your transaction."  "You did not answer my question!"  "Sir, if you can see the account now you may make your transaction."  Long pause.  "Sir, can Wells Fargo do anything else for you today."  Duh, not likely. Click.

Broken Systems...MetLife/Underwriting/Claims/Customer Portal/Customer Service...
Our personal insurance on cars, property, dwellings, etc., was through MetLife for more than two decades.  It's possible that our only claim history was for a couple of windshields.  A few years ago hail damaged all the roofs in our neighborhood.  As the houses around me received nice new roofs I had to take MetLife to a mediation process which cost $500...and they denied the claim even though they acknowledged hail damage on a vehicle parked ten feet from the roof.

I shopped insurance and ended up with Liberty Mutual.  The cost is at least 1/3 less, they have a fantastic online presence (MetLife was in the internet dark ages) and the employees are considerate, helpful and a pleasure, focused on what's good for me, the customer.

After a couple of decades, probably $100,000+ in premiums with MetLife and the same agent, I switched.  There was a small refund from MetLife.  No one from MetLife or the agency followed up or asked why I'd left.

A 'Broken Arrow' Opportunity...
There was a time that I was critical of companies that focused on low prices all the time.  There is an issue with their employees making a living wage but the reality is that wages are being challenged in all types of organizations.  The low-price providers might be primarily focused on profits but they do focus on customer options and services, as well.  In my lean process improvement days I used to start each Kaizen with a discussion on waste (the biggest being a loss of a customer) and the 'CEO' focus.  'C' the customer comes first.  'E' the employee comes second.  'O' the owner comes last.  In my examples today the 'O' people, like the Wells Fargo CEO, did come in last, but not last enough.  We'd also have to consider 'O' to be Wall Street, to which most public companies are beholding.

The Wells Fargo CEO appears uninformed under review.  We seem to be moving in a direction where the C-level people make big bucks and are not customer focused, workers are struggling to stay employed at a living wage and 'systems' are replacing decent customer management.  

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