I recently became an officer on our local non-profit board and thus was required to visit four area financial institutions to be added as a signatory. While I sought to complete the same task at the different places, I was amazed at the variance in their procedures to do so.

I was at one place for 45 grueling minutes while a manager and clerk tried to figure out the “new federal regulations.” They required not only my license and paperwork but the driver’s license, social security number and signatures of someone who was already on the account. More disturbing, they took two former officers off the account based on my word alone – no verification or review of the minutes required.

Institution #2 required one of the current signers to call in and verify a security question before they allowed me to access the paperwork. They gave me an envelope for the current person to re-sign but required nothing else from him. I was in and out in 10 minutes.

The clerk at my third stop looked at the Minutes listing me as an officer – a Word document that anyone could have forged – and added me to the account without further question. I left there as well with paperwork and an envelope to gather signatures from those currently on the account.

At institution #4, they wouldn’t even entertain talking to me unless someone currently on the account could come in person to re-sign and add me. I left the account to stand as it was.

It is rare that someone attempts to do the same task in a condensed timeframe at four different institutions, but it was incredibly telling. I know which bank places a higher value on “policy and regulations”, which takes security more seriously and which institution places service at a premium.

If you truly want to get a read on how your customers feel, have someone act as a secret shopper. There is nothing like actually trying to do something to learn how a process really works – and, mostly, how it feels to be in your customer’s shoes.


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