Just when I was thinking I needed to write something for this blog, it falls right into my lap. The world works in mysterious ways…or does it.

I’m a customer of the Rabobank here in the Netherlands. I’m generally satisfied with them but have observed that I am the most satisfied when I haven’t had any contact with them for awhile. Inverse loyalty relationship theory? Anyway, I visited the Rabobank again this afternoon to take care of some personal business and was reminded once again of this phenomenon.

Once or twice a year I receive a mandated disbursement of funds from a US investment account. Long story about why and not really relevant. What is relevant is that this disbursement comes in the form of a good old-fashioned check. I then take my checks to the Rabobank and deposit them and some weeks later, I have money deposited into my Dutch account. It’s that time of year again and I went to the Rabobank today to deposit my checks. Here’s what happened…

Rabobank logo
I walk into the newly renovated Rabobank. There is no counter and no people, only a couple of couches and an internet terminal. Very chic…but where the hell are the people who are supposed to help me? Behind a waist-high barrier are two desks…they are empty. This seems strange and my mind starts wandering and making up all sorts of way more interesting scenario’s about what is going on. Are the people who work here being held hostage in the back? Should I get involved…no, definitely not. I’m going to leave…if it’s worth knowing I can read about it in the paper. Oh, wait here comes someone now. She sits down at one of the desks and starts to type.

I have, over the past few years, discovered that I have the power to make myself invisible. At least this is what I like to think as it gives me the illusion that I have control over these situations. My invisibility cloak has apparently turned itself on again without my knowing it. Otherwise, I’m sure this woman would have said something like ‘hello’. Or even, ‘how may I help you?’ My invisibility cloak allows me to entertain myself as I go about my daily business. It’s this or be really pissed off all the time.

Finally a second woman comes in and sits at the second desk. She, also, is unable to sense my presence. I decide it’s time for action. I manually turn my invisibility cloak off and ask whether anyone can help me. ‘What do you want?’. Uh, I have these checks to be deposited. ‘Have you done this before?’ Uh huh. ‘We have to fill in a lot of forms’. OK. ‘Can’t you have them deposited electronically?’. I could, but with all the new terrorism laws, it’s too much of a hassle. Silence.

She proceeds to fill in all three of the forms required to deposit my checks. I sit silently listening to the telephone conversation of the second woman. A customer has called asking about the status of a credit card application. The woman informs this customer (using his name! – I think I know this person!) that his application has been denied. She explains that they can’t offer a credit card because of a history of ‘rood staan’ (overdrafts) and that, unfortunately, she couldn’t do anything for him.

I’m now wondering if my invisibility cloak is on again. Surely it’s not acceptable to publicly discuss confidential customer information in front of other customers? As I make a mental note to never, ever call this branch to discuss any of my financial needs, the woman who is being forced to help me finally says, ‘sign these’. I’m relieved that I’m not invisible again and comply. I request to have the checks back so that I can sign them as well and then we are done. The conversation ends with ‘good-bye’. I intentionally make myself invisible now and leave without responding. No chance for a cross-sell here!

Why am I a Rabobank customer you ask? Answer: because I’m too lazy to do anything about it and it’s too much work to change banks. My strategy is truly to minimize the contact that I have in order to maximize my satisfaction with my bank relationship. It works most of the time but not when I have to deposit checks or other incidental exceptions to my banking needs.

Some advice for the Rabobank:
The new lounge concept? Huge mistake. Here’s why:
• Lovely living room decoration but I had no clue where I was supposed to go to take care of my business? Was I supposed to walk behind the barrier to the desks or to the back? It was confusing and I don’t go to my bank to lounge around on a couch. I want to be in and out as fast as I can.
• Privacy? You won’t find me calling this location to discuss anything…ever. This is a great big NO NO that these women would discuss personal and confidential information in the presence of other customers.

Your brand values Dichtbij (nearby), Betrokken (involved), Toonaangevend (leader), Ondernemend (professional) and Deskundig (knowledgable) are nowhere to be found in this branch. I felt ignored. I make fun of the fact that I have an invisibility cloak. You should be very worried about this. Your saving grace is that I am much too busy and lazy to do anything about this…yet. In this way, I have become typically Dutch.

You need to look at how your branches can be set up from the customers’ perspective. It’s not about the look and feel in the visual sense, it’s about the look and feel in the functional and emotional sense. There’s work to do…

Ironically, Rabobank placed second in the national customer experience monitor conducted by Integron. I guess I should be happy that I’m not a customer of the other banks!

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