For the past ten days, former Commerce Bank customers have been experiencing — and documenting — epic levels of frustration over the bank’s badly-botched changeover to Metro Bank (Central PA). What has happened is a painful lesson in why every business needs to not only employ talented PR professionals, but remain in a constant two-way dialogue with its employees. Comments from employees and/or alleged employees posted here run the gamut from the apologetic to the obscene, with most leaning towards the latter.
And I’m not the only one who noticed.
Since the first post ten days ago, the Metro Bank reviews have been read just over 12,000 times and clocked in just shy of 200 comments. Search engine terms like “Metro Bank Harrisburg” and “Metro Bank complaints” (and my personal favorite, “Metro Bank sucks”) brought in just under 800 views. Referrals from media outlets such as PennLive and The Consumerist brought in 2715 views. While it is impossible to say exactly how many unique individuals viewed the site, those numbers alone are staggering.
Metro Bank remained silent on the matter up until the Patriot News ran their front-page article detailing the frustrations customers were having. To many frustrated customers like myself, that paints a clear picture of Metro Bank burying its head in the sand and hoping nobody would notice. It appears that they had no interest in admitting problems until the bad publicity began piling up.
But was it too little, too late? Judging by the response from the general public, the answer seems to be “oh hell yes”. Consider the following comments, all from people who claim to be Metro Bank employees (except for Shannon, whom I’ve been able to confirm as a Metro Bank employee):
Shannon: Everyone ”F” off!!! I am sure they still have all of their GOOD customers!!!
another employee: I will tell yuo right now. We have no clue what is going on with our own bank. I can’t even explain how much it hurts going into work. We all want to leave.
Tammy: I am a metro bank employee … Everybody runs into some issues sometimes but that does not mean that the bank is bad.
empl: The reason you are being asked to reset is … the site being hacked all sites are prone to this within the first 48 hrs and is the exact reason as to why you need to reset your password.
Sarah: I, myself, am incredibly disappointed that Metro chose not to inform it’s customers about these various changes, as it made my job as a teller increasingly frustrating.
Gary Nalbandian: For its scale, the project went well. However, there were some glitches. (NOTE: This quote, taken directly from Metro Bank’s website, was later deleted and replaced with a slightly more apologetic message stating that their computer upgrade had “caused some service interruptions.”)
Anonymous: I would like to thank every single customer for their business, patience, and attitude. You all have expressed extreme disappointment which we as not only employees but also customers understand.
Nate: Most of these comments are about 1 or 2 issues that lasted at the most 4 or 5 days. Seriously, do you have anything else in your life?
Harry: Today it seems if you run a good business and grow it from nothing, they investigate till they pin something on you and you are forced to resign.
employee: I understand everyone is upset.. but imagine being on our end. Our accounts are as screwed up as everyone else’s plus we get to deal with every single customer and their mother screaming at us for ten hours a day… at nine dollars an hour.. in a tacky blue vest.
Anonymous: Make an attempt to not be so condescending and disrespectful. If you had these so called problems continuing I would like to believe you would go into your branch and solve them.
Anonymous: the narrowmindedness and simple nature of shaundra is obtuse. get the blog ready for those genious’ at wachovia that have that company -350 billion. i know you’ve never made a mistake right
A. Teller: Don’t be too hard on “Shannon.” Do you have any idea what it’s like to drive to work and know that you are going to be yelled at constantly and not have any definite answers for customers?
METROCSR: Any of you people that say “I have gone in time and time and time again” HAVE YOU? Because I know for the last 10 days I have helped every single person that has needed it if they let me.
There may be more scattered in there, but you get the point. With two or three exceptions, the response from the employees has been staggeringly inappropriate. Most of the blame rests with upper management for failing to engage the employees on any meaningful level. I’m willing to bet money that the employees heard a lot of phrases like “opportunity for development” and “growth investment” and “challenging potential”. But did they hear anything on how to take care of the customers? Were they told? Did they listen? Because one of two things is absolutely, positively, unconditionally true:
Either someone chose not to tell them, or they chose not to listen.
I don’t expect Metro Bank’s CEO to kowtow and grovel. And I really don’t expect any more than a basic level of efficiency when I visit a branch or speak to an employee. Keep an accurate record of my account and you can count me as a satisfied customer. But the way this mess was handled speaks volume after volume about the inner workings of Metro Bank.
First the problem happened. Then they chose to keep quiet.
Then some guy with a blog posted his frustrations online. Two newspapers, two TV stations, and a national consumer advocacy blog picked up the story. Then they posted a statement saying the upgrade went “well”.
Then the comments from angry, frustrated customers flooded in. The Pennsylvania Department of Banking got involved. Then Metro Bank replaced their statement with an apology (but kept the June 19th date).
Then their employees showed up and told us all to “go ahead and leave” and “F off”. Then we did.
Goodbye, Metro Bank.