Bank Job

The first (and worst) real job I ever had was working as a busboy for a wedding caterer. Although it was a high-end operation (we wore tuxedos and white gloves), the work itself was boring, low-paying and pretty miserable.

My tasks involved serving side dishes during the event, cleaning up after the event and then, after most of the other workers had left, setting all the tables for the next day. About the only good thing I can remember – and believe me, I had to think long and hard to come up with anything – was that because I didn’t leave until four in the morning, there was never any traffic on the drive home.

That’s why I’m so happy to see my 18-year-old son Evan making money by giving guitar lessons.

Not only does he earn three or four times as much per hour as his grocery-bagging peers, he does it on his own terms, on his own schedule and in his own house. Playing guitar doesn’t seem to hurt with the ladies either, if you know what I mean. (Note to self: If you’re ever 18 and single again, learn how to sing.)

Sometimes Evan gets paid in cash but mostly it’s checks. He gets several each week and since I’m at the bank fairly regularly (visiting my money) I do the deposits for him.

And that’s where the problem begins, at the bank. (In the interest of good taste, I’d rather not specify which bank, but I will tell you that its name sort of rhymes with “Bank of America.”)

Here’s what I mean. Until recently, I would total up Evan’s checks, stuff them in a deposit envelope and drop it in the ATM machine. Last month, however, everything changed … they put in new machines. Now, instead of using envelopes, you just stick the pile of checks in and, like magic, the machine reads the amounts and adds it all up for you.

Except when it doesn’t. Then you have to look at the image on the screen and key in the amount yourself. For each check. Sometimes it rejects a check outright (don’t ask, I don’t know why) and you have to go visit a teller. Even when it does work, the machine takes about 15 seconds per check to do its thing.

The net result of all this is that my one-minute Evan deposit now runs at least five. Sometimes much more.

But wait, it gets worse.

Because as annoyed as I am at the bank for moving the check-handling process out of its back office and onto my list of responsibilities (what next, am I supposed to empty the trash before I leave?), they’ve posted a cheery little sign on the machine that reads: “No envelope. Making deposits has never been easier.”

Apparently, all the extra time and effort on my end is some kind of benefit of which I was not aware. Sort of like if I ran over your foot with my car and instead of apologizing, said, “You lucky dog, I bet that ride in the ambulance is going to be pretty cool.”

Here’s my point (and I do have one). There’s no long term advantage in trying to fool your own customers. The bank knows as well as I do that the new machines help them, not me. Trying to put a smiley face on it only makes me like them less.

The way I look at it, the way people feel about you and your company is as important as the actual work you do. Maybe more, since for most companies, the work itself is not materially different than that of the competition.

One of your jobs as marketer is to communicate authentically; that begins with telling people the straight story. And yes, you can take that to the bank.

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