Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Change without Tears

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Change without Tears

Article excerpt

Change without tears

Banks have always experienced change about as often as any other business. Until recently, bankers have managed to keep changes invisible to their customers. While customers might see a glimmer of change in the face of a new manager or when confronted with a new procedure, they usually have thought of their banks as steady and stable.

These days, the types of changes banks tend to go through are much more visible to customers. Branches are redesigned to emphasize retail services. New technology has customers dealing with machines instead of people. Smaller banks get acquired by larger banks.

Such visible changes can be very unsettling to a customer. Heart or head? In his head, the customer knows that a bank is a business that needs to make a profit for its shareholders. But in his heart, somehow he believes that the bank's purpose should be to look after his interests. "That's my money in there," he says to himself.

Many customers feel the changes going on in banking today are not for their benefit. Closing or relocating branches, for example, may increase profitability, but such steps can also alienate customers. After all, one of the main reasons people choose a bank is because of its location.

Customers also don't like changes that seem to them to be a waste of money. When they see new couches in the lobby or new computers at platform officers' desks they sometimes think, "Why don't they pass some of this money on to me in higher rates?"

Another change that customers view negatively is the purchase of their bank by another. They tend to dislike having to deal with a bank they did not choose. They may think, "You sold my bank out from under me!" or "They were bought out, so they must be in trouble!" Making it easier. …

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