A Plea For Help In Finding A New Bank

One disgruntled bank customer turns to a listserv for guidance in choosing a new bank and finds no shortage of member referrals.


One subject line in our Chevy Chase community listserv recently caught my attention. It said, “Need a new bank."

My neighbor apparently had a dispute with one of the Big Banks about her frustration over fees and was driven to leave. She explained in detail about the problem and said she was reaching out to us for help in finding a new institution. She ended her message with this:

Sorry for the vent. I would love to hear if your bank actually cares about customer service. Online banking options are essential, and local ATMs would be helpful as well. I hope I'm not being naive to think that this actually still exists somewhere. Many, many thanks.

The message caused a splash. More than 15 neighbors weighed in with their recommendations for new banks, offering reasons why their institution would be much better. While no credit unions were mentioned, the variety and depth of responses was interesting and would give credit unions pause to consider what their members might be saying about them.

Much has been written about referrals from friends and family, but this episode underscores how member referral can be taken to another level. Here, my neighbor was asking for recommendations from people who may not even know. And, you have to really like your bank or credit union to reply to a listserv in their favor as this customer did:

[My bank] is locally owned and managed — they bring the personal touch back to the process.

He even copied the bank’s mission statement from their website into the post:

"Our mission is for our customers to experience the true meaning of a community bank. Locally owned. Locally run. Locally involved.”

Another person said he knew his branch manager by name and gave a glowing personal referral:

[My bank] is fabulous! The staff will know you and if you maintain a certain balance they don't charge a fee for using other ATMs. …Talk to [the branch manager] at the branch on 44th Street, NW.

Others mentioned ownership as a driving consideration:

I recommend [my bank] the only union-owned bank in the U.S. and the only one there will ever be. Customer service is their watchword.

I like [my bank]. They are locally owned and highly rated (found ratings of local banks on Huffington Post) and I have had very good experiences with them.

All of the response hit at the heart of what credit unions consider to be their competitive advantage: local focus and customer service. It’s a nice reminder of what credit union members could be saying about the services they receive.


July 25, 2011


  • This is exactly what we heard in our focus groups a couple weeks ago!
  • I just took part in a discussion on facebook where a friend was looking for a new bank. Well over 75% of the positive recommendations were from people who use the credit union where I work.