Is Wells Fargo regaining its customer culture?

customer focused banks

We all have a love-hate relationship with our banks. We see this in the annual customer satisfaction ratings that are far from stellar for all banks.

Wells Fargo slipped to second-place behind JPMorgan Chase in customer satisfaction among big banks in the American Customer Satisfaction Index released in December 2012. Wells Fargo received a score of 71 on a scale of 100, down three points from 2011. Chase scored a 74, gaining six points in 2012. Citi dropped four points for a score of 70. It marks the first time in a decade Wells or predecessor Wachovia has not been ranked No. 1. Charlotte-based Wachovia had long enjoyed the top spot in the rankings, and its momentum lifted Wells Fargo to that spot after the banks merged in 2008.

But Wells Fargo is trying to increase the “love” side of the equation by actively working to offer meaningful services that will help its cash-strapped customers.

Wells Fargo, like many banks have a large number of customers that are unable to meet their mortgage payments and are struggling to hold on to their houses. In this situation Wells Fargo could take the view that it is the customer’s problem if they can’t make the repayments. But a customer-centric view would be to fully understand the customer’s problem, then look for alternate ways to enable customers to meet their commitments and help them understand the options and advise on the most realistic and acceptable plan to meet the need.

Recently Wells Fargo started offering workshops for consumers that are having difficulty paying their mortgages and who are in danger of foreclosure. Customers can learn about options that may help them overcome payment challenges, understand how they may be able to avoid foreclosure and connect with resources like housing counselors and online tools.

Another initiative is helping small businesses understand alternative financing arrangements and develop a strong proposal for borrowing to finance their growth. “As America’s leading small business lender, we have an important responsibility to provide small business owners both access to capital, and access to the financial guidance they need before and after obtaining credit,” said Lisa Stevens, Wells Fargo lead executive for Small Business and West Coast Regional Banking president. “The new Business Credit Center is another way we support small business owners. It offers straightforward, relevant information business owners can use to better understand financing options for their businesses.”

Are these signs that Wells Fargo is acting to strengthen its customer focus by seeking to really understand customer needs and provide valuable services for cash strapped customers?

What are you doing for customers that have difficulty paying for your products or services? Do you regard it as the customer’s problem or your problem?

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