An ACM Anecdote from the Finance Sector

A conversation on Adam Deane’s blog on “Adaptive Case Management, or ACM for short” got me thinking about banking processes and whether or not they are structured (not just processes done by banks – for example we have good success at board decision tracking for banks – clearly an unstructured process).

A while back we had some checks stolen, along with the rest of the contents of my wife’s purse. We immediately went to the police where we were met with a certain amount of disinterest – they told us to  go take care of our important documents at the relevant official offices (e.g. driver’s license)  , notify the bank about credit card and checks. No need to file report, since it almost certainly won’t lead to anything – and the police officer in charge of reports was out that day.

So immediately we went and cancelled all the checks for the account.  It was a simple procedure of filling out a form and paying a fee. Or so I thought. A few weeks ago a check was drawn from our account and not rejected. I didn’t see it until about a week later. Calling the bank – I reminded them that we had cancelled all the checks. “OK” they said “just get us a copy of the police report, give us power of attorney to prosecute, come in sign some more documents and you’ll get a refund.”  I had thought that it must be a misunderstanding since we had already cancelled all our checks, but no they wouldn’t agree to anything less. It turns out they had a process to follow for cancelling issued checks that was tuned for cases where the client didn’t notify the bank of the stolen checks – and there was no way around the system. Even though that clearly wasn’t the case here, the clerk had little or no leeway in decision making. So wanting my money back I filed a report at the local police station, trouped up the bank to sign the papers. A very polite clerk took a copy of the report, and gave me papers to sign. To top it off he read me a paragraph that the “process” required him to say – “As a benefit to you we will cancel your check, and return your money. Please understand we are doing this in order to provide good service to a valued customer, but are under no obligation to do so.”  

“but you didn’t follow the instructions I specifically gave (and paid for) so how can this be a benefit? You shouldn’t have cashed the check at all” I said.

“Sorry” said the clerk “just process related boilerplate. Doesn’t really apply in your case, just sign these papers and I’ll credit your account”

Of course the papers had the same wording. I protested, but if I didn’t sign he couldn’t continue the process and credit my acoount. I had the feeling of working with the Mob – they take something of yours inappropriately, and then ransom it back. I really started to get mad, so we got a bank attorney and they agreed for the clerk to erase that line from the document. I signed and asked to see the manager.

Waited for a while and went in to see the manager. She opens our meeting (after having glanced at the screen) – “I am happy that as a benefit to you we returned your money. Please understand we are doing this in order to provide good service to a valued customer….”  Well you can imagine what happened next…

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