Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) isn't known for its spectacular customer service, and its poor reputation in the mortgage lending business has alienated many customers – some, no doubt, permanently.
But, every now and then, I come across something that makes Bank of America stand out – in a positive way -- where customer relations are concerned, and I just can't help writing about it. After all, if a company is to be criticized for bad behavior, I believe that it should also be commended when it does something right.
When it comes to helping customers manage and save their money, B of A really stands out. Here are a few ways the bank goes the extra mile to help educate consumers about financial management – as well as a specialized product that can truly help customers save money.
Money management tips
Bank of America dedicates quite a lot of space on its website to advising consumers about financial management. Although other big banks also offer money management advice, B of A's layout is, I think, the most user-friendly. For instance, this page gives 8 simple ways to save money – with succinct, actionable language that doesn't require a lot of confusing clicking in order to get the whole story.
The Managing Your Money page also has three distinct areas of discussion, beginning with basic budgeting techniques – which includes a downloadable spreadsheet to make the process as easy as possible.
The second section, "Understanding Your Finances", offers specific strategies for personal finance issues, such as how to deal with common financial problems. The third area is especially interesting: how to avoid banking fees, including those levied by Bank of America.
Keep the Change
If you have trouble putting away even a dollar or two per week for a rainy day, the Keep the Change program might be just what you need to get that savings account started. By rounding "up" your everyday debit card purchases to the nearest dollar amount, B of A creates a cushion that can be transferred from your checking account to savings. Under this program, a $5.25 purchase gets registered as a $6.00 transaction – with the difference transferred directly into savings.
Naturally, customers have to sign up for both a B of A debit card, as well as the Keep the Change program. One caveat: Customers should make certain that they have enough money in their checking account, since even one overdraft fee could wipe out the entire month's savings – or more.
These tips and programs may seem like no-brainers, things that customers could do on their own without scrutinizing a website or signing up for programs that trick them into saving money.
While that is true, the problem is that people don't always have the wherewithal to take these steps on their own. Financial literacy is fairly low in this country, and Bank of America deserves credit for trying to educate consumers about managing their personal finances, as well as making that information as accessible as possible. In this one corner of customer relations, Bank of America definitely outshines its peers.