I'm still amazed at the short-term, unimaginative strategies dreamed up by most executives these days.
Here's one scenario: Banks see a revenue delcline coming because Congress cuts the amount of fees they can charge when they use ATM cards. Damn, we can't charge merchants when customers use their ATM instead of cash? No problem, we'll charge the customers to get their cash back from us instead.
The result? Customers get pissed off, activists announce a national Bank Transfer Day, encouraging people to move to credit unions. A PR disaster, banks have to back off the plan. But now the idea is out there. Why use banks, whose only concern about customers is how much money they can collect from them through any means their botton-line focused minds can dream up?
Here's another scenario: Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos wakes up in early 2000 to find that stock prices for unprofitable dot-com companies have been devastated by a tech stock crash. What to do? Raising prices would be the knee-jerk reactino from most executives. No, Bezos decides to keep prices low, cutting costs instead and turning Amazon into a hugely profitable company.
Then, in 2011, Bezos decides to invest in new Kindle products and in distribution centers to better serve customers. Profits drop dramatically for the quarter, the stock drops 13 percent in one day. Bezos shrugs. He'll get it back in the long run.
Nobody announces Amazon Transfer Day.
Most companies -- and financial institutions, who seem to see customers only as wallets -- are happy to punish their customers in order to try and raise revenues and profits. Even Netflix decided to raise prices without any increase in service, even though potential competitors, including Amazon, are looming on the horizon.
The smart companies deicde -- gasp! -- that customers come first. Serve your customers well, and they'll reward you in the long run.
Is that idea really so hard to comprehend?
Not to me. I switched from Citibank to a credit union months ago. I held off for years because I needed access to ATMs that wouldn't charge me a fee to get my money. Citibank has a deal with an ATM network prominent in 7-Eleven stores. Guess what? So does my credit union (Redwood Credit Union.) Think I'll ever go back? Let's see, that would be a no.
To the rest of you, stop being banking sheep, a group to which I belonged for years. Look into a credit union. Your bank is simply betting that inertia will keep you there and they'll use that to milk you for everything they can.
But I see no reason to stop using Amazon.