Eliminating Customer Anxiety during a Crisis

Posted Wednesday, October 31, 2012 in Customer Experience by Ronni Marshak

I believe it is important to pay attention to customers’ emotions as they do business with you. I received an excellent example of how one financial provider thought about customers in a crisis situation and made a strategic decision to take one burden off of them as they face the storm—literally.

As a Chase credit card customer, I received the following email on Monday, 10/29/2012 at 7:14 PM, shortly after Hurricane Sandy violent hitting theMassachusettsshore.

We hope you, your families and your customers are safe. Natural disasters are very stressful and we want to help where we can.

This week, we are expanding our efforts to help you and all of our customers inMassachusetts andRhode Island as you manage through the storm.

  • We are waiving the following Chase fees through Wednesday, October 31st for customers in Massachusettsand Rhode Island. Please know that you'll have until the end of business on Thursday to make a deposit or a payment to bring your account current and avoid the fees.

    º Overdraft Protection Transfer, Extended Overdraft, Returned Item and Insufficient Funds Fees for deposit accounts.

    º Late fees on credit cards, business and consumer loans, including mortgages, home-equity, auto and student loans.
  • Please visit chase.com frequently and check our branch locator for details on the branches near you.

Please call us at 1-888-356-0023 or your personal banker if you are unable to access your funds or need help with other services. For example, we will generally waive the early withdrawal fees on CDs to help customers with their cash flow.

If you have more specific problems, please call your Financial Advisor, Business Banker, Loan Officer or simply come into your nearest open Chase branch. Although markets are closed, if you want to place an order or have questions regarding your investment account, please call 1-800-392-5749. Our branch and telephone bankers are empowered to go the extra mile for customers with storm-related problems or concerns. We will be calling many of our customers in the hardest hit areas to see if there are other ways we can help.

We hope these efforts can play a small part in easing some of your worries following the storm. We are committed to doing what we can for our customers who have been impacted. If you need help, please call us at 1-888-356-0023, tweet @ChaseSupport or visit any of our open branches.


Ryan McInerney
Chief Executive Officer
Chase Consumer Banking

What a terrific email! Although I didn’t have a payment due this week, it was so reassuring to know that Chase was going to be there for fellow New Englanders who weren’t as fortunate as I was (I didn’t even lose power!).

The next morning, Tuesday 10/30/2012 at 6:04 AM, I received a similar email from Citibank, with whom I also have a credit card relationship.

Dear Ronni Marshak,

We hope that you and your family are safe. The impact of natural disasters we know can be difficult, and we want you to know we are here if you need us.

If you have been impacted by the storm, we are ready to assist with access to cash, fee waivers, and more that you may require. Bottom line, we are here to serve you each and every day, but in particular, during this challenging time. If you need assistance, please contact customer service and we will work to help with your individual needs


Matt Jenkins
Head of Service Delivery – Citi Cards

Again, nice message to receive. But it felt a bit like “too little, too late” for two reasons:

  1. Chase’s message came duringthe natural disaster, while customers’ anxiety levels were at their pinnacle. Citi’s message came the next morning, when we already knew the worst and were starting to deal with it. It didn’t allay the fears that customers were feeling as they watched their homes get flooded and were evacuated to unfamiliar surroundings. By the morning, they were in recovery mode. So the message was welcome, but not as impactful.
  2. Chase proactively waived fees and provided a phone number with which to reach someone even outside of banking hours. Citi, on the other hand, said that they would assist with things like fee waivers if you called. Again, this is nice, but requires that the customer incrisisdo something. Chase took the burden away by assuring customers that it would automatically be done.

So what can we learn from this?

  • It’s good to reach out to your customers in a crisis, but timing is important. When would receiving a message from you do the most to help relieve customer anxiety?
  • Make things happen automagically. I’m sure Citi would offer all the same assistance as Chase offered, but it wasn’t automatic. The customer has the responsibility to take the initiative rather than relying on the provider to just fix things that needed to be fixed without even asking.
  • Any outreach is good. I’m still waiting to hear from my other financial providers. I’m waiting…still waiting…



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