Dear Banks: Money Isn’t Funny

I never opened an account with E*Trade. But I have one, because my mortgage lender sold my home-equity credit line to the online brokerage company.

Fortunately, I’ve never had to tap into that money. But I still had a frustrating argument with an E*Trade customer service rep the other night over an annual fee dispute. 

As the conversation got more heated, I realized two things: 1) being a customer service rep for a financial institution must be a really lousy job these days; and 2) money isn’t funny anymore.

Euro RSCG London’s Russ Lidstone makes that latter argument eloquently in this Adweek article, “Actions Speak Louder Than Jingles.” You should read the entire piece, but here are a few excerpts if you’re too busy arguing with your own bank today:

“Many retail banks are still trying to build affective emotional trust—being warm and fuzzy—rather than smelling the coffee and taking concrete steps to rebuild cognitive trust. The pre-crash, happy-go-lucky jokes, songs (or even jingles), gushing employees and extraordinarily smiley customers still dominate.

“[They] need to wake up and stop pretending nothing much happened. To put this crisis behind them, banks should act and communicate differently by building cognitive, rational trust with actions that back up their words.

“In brand communication, they need to stop laughing and realize the situation is simply not funny. Many banks should change the conversation and the nature of their communications so that customers talk about what their bank does for them, rather than what they did to them.”