Her timing was great since I had been a bit upset with my current bank. Not only had my bank changed their fee structure without a clear notification, but they seemed to be looking for new ways to generate fees for actions I had become accustomed to not paying for. Sure, I could avoid the fees as I had in the past by maintaining a steady balance in my account, but even that had been raised to a level that really didn't correspond to the value I felt I was receiving from the bank.
You made it so easy for me to respond to Rachel's email since she even provided her email address (firstname.lastname@example.org). And, as opposed to feeling like my response would end up in some black hole of customer service or would be responded to by a person not even named Rachel, it was easy to see that my new pen pal had been hired just a week earlier as the first of two customer service representatives to provide 'brilliant customer service'.
I was definitely impressed that almost immediately after a wrote my email to Rachel late at night, she responded within 10 minutes! I was falling in love with your bank even though it hadn't opened yet. I was so impressed that I immediately tweeted about my experience, spoke about my dialogue with Rachel at conferences, and posted a blog entry about my new friend from your bank on this site (A Little Note From Bank Simple, January 18, 2011). That blog post generated by far more traffic than any post I have done before or after. Talk about word of mouth marketing (WOMM)!
As with any new relationship, there were some of my friends (Ron Shevlin) who were naysayers. They said it I was getting my hopes up that the communication between Rachel and I would continue. They said that the proof of a good relationship is in the long term communication and caring, and not just a single series of emails. They said I was getting my hopes up that I had found a new bank and that I might be setting myself up for being disappointed.
I am starting to believe they were right. Not only has Rachel seemed to move on to other friends as your team has grown, but the promises of a great, new banking experience that she spoke of remain just a promise. Maybe my optimistic personality got the best of me again. Sure, your leader Josh Reich tells me about the fact that you have received a lot of new funding and that you have found new corporate partners in Visa, some banks and even TXVia. You even got my hopes up when you hired Alex Payne from Twitter. but it has been 6 months since Rachel last wrote and the only time I hear about BankSimple now is through traditional press releases and trade publication interviews.
Much like in the movie Jerry Maguire, where Renee Zellweger says that Tom Cruise 'had her at hello', you really had me at 'simple'. But now, there are other banks that are starting to look a lot like how you once looked. You have competition in existing banks like Ally, and ING where there are no fees, easy access and even interest on my accounts. You also have a new competitor coming down the road that is compared to you every time they talk to industry insiders. Brett King's MoveNBank seems to be looking for friends also, allowing me to be part of their beta group in 2012. There are some of my friends like Jim Bruene from NetBanker who wonder if MoveNBank may even 'outsimplify BankSimple.
So when is Rachel, Josh, Alex and the rest of your team going to let me see more than promises? I know you have moved to a new headquarters, but to say I am ready is an understatement. Since January, my old bank (yes, I switched once already) has raised fees and cut back the value they provide again, with many of the other large banks following suit thanks to Durbin and other pressures.
If you are not quite ready to let me kick the tires or take your bank for a ride around the block, the least you could do is have Rachel write me again and assume me that our potential relationship is still alive. Otherwise, I will consider the great communication 6 months ago a nice experience, but also another lesson that all banks are alike when it comes to customer service and promises. They love to tease you, but when it comes to delivering on a promise, they fall short.
If not you, maybe some of my blog followers can either assure me that I should remain patient or that I should move on.