Saturday, April 11, 2015

Do you hate us?

I paid bills this morning.  It's not a task I enjoy.  Mostly because I think the credit card companies are really not our friends.

Ok, what am I thinking? Credit card companies have been accused of trying to trick and rip-off customers since the beginning of time, or at least the beginning of credit cards.

But these new tactics seem to be designed to infuriate, frustrate or cause late payments...

Sunday Due Dates - I'm pretty sure that they're not receiving or processing mail on Sunday  This may have no impact on people who pay the credit card company's website, but I use my bank's bill payment system and they don't allow weekend payments, even if the payments are electronic. At the end of the day, it's a minor thing, an error message and a little frustration on my part when I try to choose the payment date, but it still feels designed to be annoying.  If I had a credit card company, payments would be due on Wednesdays and if they were received by Friday, they'd be considered on time.

Obscure, Generic, Easy-to-Overlook emails - I would almost accuse Discover of sending me too many emails... email when a bill's due, email a few days before the due date, an email when the payment is received, except that all of Discover's emails are helpful, easy-to-read and informative. Chase, on the other hand, has moved to generic, text-only emails that are really easy to overlook. They give you no specifics (you have sign-in to their website to actually learn any useful information).

Disconnection from Payment Systems - Chase recently eliminated the online connection to bill payment services (or at least mine).  I can still pay my credit card from my bill pay service, but I can no longer see due dates, the minimum and full amounts due and I no longer get emails from my bank when a new payment is due.  I actually ended up with a late payment.  At the end of the day, I had a bill due and I didn't pay it by the due date, I will accept responsibility, that's on me.  But I can still lament the helpful tool that's been taken away and wonder why on earth it was taken away, why a credit card company would want to eliminate helpful reminders that bills are due.

These types of abuses make me think it's time to turn paper bills back on. Although I wouldn't be surprised if they want to charge me for them.

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So... what about you? Take a few minutes, close your eyes, and think about your customers. (If you don't have a business, think about your constituents, congregants, family.. the people you interact with, the people who you rely on, the people who rely on you.)

What do you see? Do you see nameless voids to carelessly and ruthlessly extract money (or whatever) from, to discard without concern because there are plenty more? Or do you see individuals, people like yourself? People who you want to have a relationship with for the long-haul?

You can build a business being crummy. People will still do business with you in droves if you're just a tiny bit better than the competition, or you're a monopoly, or you try to fill your ranks with people who don't know any better. Do that and you'll get the bottom of the barrel, people will leave as soon as they can, people who will do the bare minimum, people who won't appreciate you, won't spend more with you, won't encourage their friends to do business with you.

Or you can build something spectacular, something that will last, a "take my money!" business with people who love you, who aspire to own or use your products, people who (even if they could never afford your product) will wear a shirt with your logo on it.

Your call. Do you love us, or do you hate us?
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