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Hey, bankers…curb your enthusiasm!

I’m a big fan of Larry David and Curb Your Enthusiasm, his hilarious series on HBO. While I don’t typically socialize with the celebrity crowd like Larry does on his show (ok, never), he and I are kindred spirits. When something doesn’t go right in an interaction, I’m not happy, and I’ve got very specific ideas on what should have happened…especially when it comes to digital engagement. Since I don’t have my own TV show to share these, this blog will have to do.

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Larry David made his name as the co-creator, head writer and executive producer of Seinfeld but he is well on his way to eclipsing that fame with his hilarious HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm. He plays himself in the show which consists of him interacting with his celebrity friends, family and the public in a wide variety of settings, during which he invariably becomes agitated by something he perceives as a sub-optimal experience. What makes this funny is his over-the-top reactions – there is no slight he is willing to let go, no minor glitch that doesn’t warrant his ire. He is the quintessential grumpy old man.

In this way, he and I are kindred spirits.

When something doesn’t go right in an interaction, I’m not happy, and I’ve got very specific ideas on what should have happened…especially when it comes to digital banking. Here are a few of my gripes and what I think should happen instead.

 

Requiring a minimum eight-character password consisting of at least one upper case letter, one character…

…and the list of password requirements to log in goes on from there. I might be able to remember my home phone number from when I was a kid, but there is no way I can remember the complex passwords required to access my various online bank accounts. And why should I? It’s not like these are providing any real security, what with data breaches, social engineering and malware threatening to steal my digital identity. And don’t get me started about password hints or knowledge-based authentication. I’m sorry, but sometimes I think my favorite pet is my lab Zoe; other days it’s my poodle Abbie…how am I to know which one it was the day I set up my account? Please!

What I want is for my banks to use biometrics – something I am, not something I know – to authenticate me. I’m not particular about the mode. I’ll gladly use my voice, my face or my fingerprint to prove I’m me, just so long as I don’t have to enter a ridiculous password ever again.

 

Telling me the menu options have changed. Again.

When I decide to call my bank, I don’t need the voice response system to announce a litany of the things I could do. I already know why I’m calling and the sooner I get that done the better. That’s how it worked when I used to visit my bank in person. I’d walk up to a teller window, explain what I was there to do, and they would get it done without first listing all the various things they could do for me. Listening to a telephone banking menu makes we wish for these old days.

What I really want is for the voice response system to be like the teller, and simply ask “how can I help you?” I would then explain in plain conversational English what I wanted to do, and the system would understand and get it done. Is that too much to ask (he asks in plain conversational English)?

 

Waiting for me to figure out something has gone wrong.

Stuff happens. I understand that. Sometimes it’s your fault…a transaction is posted incorrectly, or a new account application is lost. Sometimes it’s my fault…I forget to make a loan payment, or I let my account balance fall dangerously low. Regardless of the cause, as soon as you know something is wrong, I expect you to let me know. Before something really bad happens, like I start bouncing checks, or get a late fee.

I’m not particular about how you communicate this, as long as it’s in time to prevent further damage. Call me, text me, email me, or do all three. Just don’t wait for me to call you.

Remember…I too am a grumpy old man.

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