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A Shocking Tale of Extraordinary Customer Service


A Shocking Tale of Extraordinary Customer Service

A friend called me a few months ago to tell me that he was recently injured and had to go on temporary disability. He said he was having a hard time financially and the doctor didn’t want him to return to work right away. He has a teenage daughter and is a single parent. He asked for my advice, and I suggested he apply for a mortgage modification, which he did.

Last week he called me again to tell me that he was back at work, but was still trying to catch up with his bills. Unfortunately, his bank, Wells Fargo had turned him down for the mortgage modification and he was worried he wouldn’t be able to make future payments. Wells Fargo had suggested he reapply in person during the three-day workshops they were holding at the Oakland Convention Center. He had made an appointment and asked me to accompany him for moral support.

His appointment was today at 3:00 PM. At 2:30 he called and said he didn’t see the point, but I said some encouraging words and he decided to go.

I didn’t know what to expect. Wells Fargo is huge, and he had already been turned down, because his debt to income ratio and his expenses were too high.

As soon as we entered the convention center, there were people to greet us. They smiled, welcomed us, and let us know they were there to help, as they accompanied him to registration. From the first smile, I could feel his tension lesson. 

His first step was to meet with Adela, a representative who reviewed his financials. She spoke with him about his bills, and he told her that he had cut way back on expenses since he had first applied. She was encouraging, and told him that he had several options. She let him know that there were a lot of other people in the same situation, and she wanted him to be able to keep his house. There were no lectures, no judgment, just kindness and empathy.


He began to feel hopeful as she walked him over to the next person, Ernesto, who was going to run the numbers and possibly give him the verdict. Ernesto offered him a cookie, which he accepted. He told me that as soon as he ate the cookie, he knew that he would be ok. Ernesto smiled, looked him in the eye asked him about his situation. He was comfortable opening up and talking. My friend told me that he had been embarrassed about his situation since he had never had to ask for financial help before, but when he spoke with Ernesto, he was treated like a peer, and with great respect.


All of a sudden I saw my friends’ face light up, he sat up a little straighter, with a big smile on his face.  I knew he had gotten the help he wanted but had been too afraid to hope for. “I can’t believe it, they lowered my interest rate three points, and I don’t have to make a payment for another five weeks,” he said as walked over to where I was waiting. His step was lighter, and he told me, “Wells Fargo has a customer for life, and I’m going to let everyone know about the care I got.”

With Twitter, Facebook, Linked-in, etc. reports of bad customer service can go viral, but it’s important that examples of extraordinary empathy, and problem solving get posted and go viral in the clouds and blogosphere.

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Simma Lieberman Associates


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