When getting a student line of credit, you can find yourself jumping through a few hoops. Of course, they’re very necessary hoops to better understand your financial picture and what your plans are for the future (aka can you pay it back).
My girlfriend has decided to go to Queen’s University, who is actually being quite supportive in helping her with her first year’s financial cost. Woohoo! But a girl has to eat…and live somewhere…and generally survive…so a student loan was necessary. Her obvious tactic was to go to the institution she has spent the last decade or more with: CIBC.
Unfortunately, her application for a student loan didn’t go through. I wasn’t in the room when she applied, nor was I on the other line when she was informed they were “sorry, it didn’t go through” and she “needed a family member, preferably with a big house as collateral” to get a loan. The CIBC rep did say he really liked working with her and if there’s anything else she need, just let him know. (sidenote: the first thing she asked you for, you couldn’t help with and then provided terrible reasons as to why she was rejected. Why would she ask for you again, exactly?)
This didn’t add up to me. Hey, I don’t know anything about load applications but knowing her financial situation and her kick-ass credit score, I was dumb-founded that this was the reason they gave. Really? CIBC doesn’t give out student loans unless mommy/daddy/brother/sister/second cousin helps? Just weird.
At the very least, it was worth some follow up questions so I decided to help out by trying to get some answers. I tried online first.
ONLINE – Rotating Door of Service
— Russel Lolacher (@RussLoL) August 28, 2013
@RussLoL What happened? I want to get to the bottom of this. Send us a DM & let's chat. ^JA
— CIBC (@cibc) August 28, 2013
Woohoo! Thanks initials “JA” (Jann Arden?), this is great. You show sympathy and the desire to “get to the bottom of it”. Yes! Let’s “chat”. So I sent a couple of DMs immediately. One sent to explain that the information I was looking for was probably longer than 140 characters and to ask for their email address. So I waited for my chat with JA…and waited…and waited.
12 hours later…
Hi Russ, e-mail is not a secure method of communication, pls sign onto Online Banking & send us a secure msg addressing ur concerns. ^RS
Hello…”RS”? New day, new customer service rep. I guess “JA” didn’t really want to chat. OK, RS. Apparently, since you called me Russ, we must be on a nickname basis so we’re nice and comfortable with each other. How can you help me? From your tweet, you are assuming my request needs a secure method of communication. OK. My DM response: “I’m not a member of your bank and I’m just looking for an email address to ask a question…”
Hi Russell. Thank you for your clarification. For your inquiry, please send your e-mail to email@example.com. ^MK
Great…but who the heck is “MK” now? Nice that we’re back to using formal names…but you spelled mine wrong. Sigh.
— Russel Lolacher (@RussLoL) August 28, 2013
Time to talk to a person, face to face…
I did enquire as to the numerous staff I was dealing with. Their response: “Hi, Russel. Social Media is handled by a team of representatives. It is normal to receive responses from different members of the team. ^FN” (note the fourth person that has now responded to me)
I kind of figured the “team of representatives” thing out all by myself. The challenge I have is customer service should be about building a rapport with your customer, human to human, regardless of the technology. People want to know that someone on the other line cares. It’s hard to build a relationship with a rotating CIBC door of customer service reps. I understand resource allocation can be challenging but I was shuffled on to multiple people multiple times within the same business day. I’d feel like they cared about me more, and I’d wait a little bit longer for it, if there was a more intimate interaction.
But I do like that “FN” finally got my name right. 🙂
OFFLINE – Defensive is in the Details
My in-store experience at CIBC brought me in contact with two separate staff. First was the front desk to make the appointment, the second was CIBC’s subject matter expert on student loans.
1) Front Desk Clerk – perfectly fine. I had a request (an appointment that day) and she fulfilled it. She was friendly, smiled and had a great attitude. The only hiccup was after I had mentioned the less than stellar engagement of the CIBC Twitter account. Her response, “I don’t run it.” Yes, I know that. But it does represent your organization.
2) The lady that helped us better understand the loan application process was really helpful. It actually wasn’t due to a family member (thanks, first guy) but for two other reasons that can easily be addressed. Unfortunately, I wasn’t thrilled with one of the reasons. I understood it but I didn’t like it (sorry, I’m not going to go into the details) and said so…something along the witty and charming lines of “that’s stupid. I get it but I don’t think it’s realistic.” Her response was a louder explanation of what I should know. Don’t get me wrong, I’m an idiot when it comes to student loans (as mentioned above) but raising your voice won’t make me agree with you.
In customer service, being defensive isn’t the best response. As a representative of your company, when a customer challenges you, they are usually taking issue with the organization, not you personally.
In the end, this CIBC experience had its ups and downs. Did we finally get to the information we needed? Absolutely. Did those I come in contact with provide a service and direct me necessarily? For sure. It was just the customer service bumps along the road to our destination that could have been paved a little better.