You know that term "fair weather friend?" No? Let us introduce you to Bank of America, the nation's largest lender, instigator of the Financial Crisis and newfound believers in customer service.
Things are looking up for Bank of America. This month, the financial institution finally found some middle ground with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to whom it will pay some $10 billion in damages for selling them bad mortgages. That's a lot of money, but it's also a big load of Bank of America's back -- especially the part about how none of the executives have to go to jail. Meanwhile the economy is on the up and up; the housing market is rebounding with force; and the unemployment rate is steadily declining. Things haven't been this good for the American consumer in years. And according to a letter recently sent to employees and acquired by Reuters, chief executive Brian Moynihan wants to introduce a new focus on the customer, including something called the "problem solving approach." In other words, Bank of America wants to be your friend again, America. And let us be the first to tell you: Bank of America is a fair weather friend.
Case and point: Bank of America's customer service has been going down the drain for years. At the end of 2012, before the good news about the reasonable settlement and latest positive signs of economic recover, Bank of America ranked dead last in the American Customer Satisfaction Index. With a score of 66 out of 100, it slipped 3 percent from the year before and is now nearly 11 percent lower than its peak score in 2003. That represents the largest loss of customer satisfaction of any of the banks included in the index in the past ten years.
So no wonder Moynihan and pals want to work on building better relationships with their consumers. Do you have money? Then prepare for a multifront marketing assault from Bank of America asking you to sign up for their services. Keep recent historical events in mind, however. We're not out of the woods yet, and Bank of America could be the very institution to push us back into the darkness.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.