…in a showdown of customer service.

People talk about empowerment. And I was surprised to see that a Taco Bell franchise in Bloomington, MN is actually empowering their employees. After eating my meal there, I was still hungry and noticed on the menu: “Caramel Apple Empanada”. I went back to the counter and asked, “What is that?”. The employee explained that its kind of like an apple pie. I said I would like one, he told me it would be a dollar, and I was going to pay, and then he said, “I’ll let you try one, and if you like it, you can get it again sometime.” Wow! This is Taco Bell! Can he do that? Not charge me? Only mom-and-pop stores have that kind of authority, right? He actually is thinking about future business and customer service. Incredible.

So, the antithesis in my realm of experience is US Bank. Granted, I’m going to describe my only encounter with US Bank, and probably countless people have positive experiences with them, but mine was an example of a non-empowered employee to make a decision that might impact someone’s impression of US Bank and the potential for future business.

So I was in West St. Paul, MN and needed my car washed. I did not have any cash, and needed cash (and of course, quarters) to wash my car. So I went to the cash machine at a US Bank a block from the car wash. I got $20, which of course was in the form of a twenty dollar bill. The quarter-changer at the car wash only took $5-bills or smaller, so now I needed smaller denominations. I pulled forward about 30 feet from the US Bank cash machine to the US Bank drive through teller. I explained I just wanted to change my twenty-dollar bill for some fives. The teller said, “OK, just a minute.” A moment later she returned at the window and said, “Are you a customer with US Bank?” I said no. She said she could not make change unless I was a US Bank customer. I told her I just got the cash from their cash machine (where I paid a $2 service fee to US Bank) and just wanted change. She said she couldn’t do it. Now that is first of all, a poor policy in my mind, and also an extreme lack of empowerment for the employee to be able to make a decision about assisting a non-US Bank customer, who will probably now never become one.

I proceeded to pull in NEXT DOOR to the TCF Bank drive through teller, who proceeded to give me the change I wanted. Can you believe that he did that? I wasn’t even a TCF customer and he gave me change? Notice also that I did not even pay a TCF ATM charge. He just gave me change. Amazing!