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Relationship Marketing | Wells Fargo Review

Relationship Marketing | Wells Fargo ReviewOne of the fastest ways to lose customers is to let them know that you don’t care about them.  Make it clear that you are in business for yourself, not for them.  When they question you, assert your authority, cite policy and turn a deaf ear to their concerns.

Now what blogger, internet marketer or entrepreneur would build their business around those practices?

Very few, to be sure.

That’s because most bloggers and internet marketers have learned to be humble enough to listen to the concerns of their clients.  Beyond that, they actually seek the feedback of their customers so they can make their businesses even more relevant and valuable.

Beyond humility and responsiveness, the wisest entrepreneurs have even developed a deep sense of gratitude.  They are grateful for a great many things, but there are few things they are more grateful for than their clients and customers.  And in their wisdom, they make a regular practice of developing ways for expressing this humility and gratefulness to their clients.

Relationship Marketing: How To Screw It Up

The power of relationship marketing is rooted in your ability to be humble in your business, responsive to your clients’ needs, and ever grateful for their following and support.

So, here’s how one brick and mortar business I recently had dealings with, that screwed all that up.

My Wells Fargo Review

I was recently involved in a real estate transaction in which I was the seller.  The buyer of the property was approved for a mortgage from Wells Fargo.

First, things don’t always go smoothly in real estate transactions.

Second, I was not Wells Fargo’s client, the buyer was.

Nonetheless, from my perspective, Wells Fargo seemed to go way beyond the call of duty in making it clear that they either didn’t care about, or knew nothing about relationship marketing.

The closing for the property was delayed numerous times because Wells Fargo was “not ready” to close.

I asked my attorney for an approximate closing date because so many arrangements hinged on it.  I was told that Wells Fargo would not communicate with them, only with their client, the buyers of the property.  I spoke with the buyers.  They couldn’t get any target date.  I tried calling Wells Fargo, but had no success.

I found a Wells Fargo Facebook page and voiced my concern there.  I found a customer service email address and wrote to them there.  Eventually, I did receive a phone call from someone at Facebook.  I don’t remember if it was in response to my Facebook query or my email.  But a representative did call me.  

I explained to her how many things were dependent on having some “ballpark” idea of when the closing might occur.  Her response was typical of the runaround I had been getting so far:

She told me she couldn’t give me any information because I was not Wells Fargo’s client.  I asked if she could let the buyer’s attorney know something. She said no, Wells Fargo would only communicate with their client, the buyer.  I asked if they would then please communicate to the buyer when the property might be ready to close… just a rough idea.  

She told me she could not tell me whether or not Wells Fargo would communicate that to the buyer.  When I asked her why she couldn’t tell me if they would communicate the matter to the buyer, she told me she couldn’t tell me why because I was not Wells Fargo’s client, the buyer was.

Ok.  Enough already.

I get it.  

They won’t tell me what’s going on, they won’t tell their client, they’ll pretend to care about people by setting up Facebook pages and customer service departments, and they’ll even… after a great deal of arm-twisting… call me to let me know they care but won’t give me any information that might be helpful in any way at all.

I guess you could say that this is an example of relationship marketing… an example of how to do everything you can to avoid it, that is.

Who Cares?

It seems to me that Wells Fargo doesn’t care one way or another if I ever become a client of theirs.  Otherwise, they’d be far more courteous and helpful.  I mean really helpful, not fake helpful.

At the very least, they’d be more helpful to their actual clients, which, I was clearly led to believe, they were not.

So, maybe they didn’t even care about having their existing client’s repeat business.  Or, so it would seem.

And, certainly, as a marketer yourself, you probably don’t care about Wells Fargo’s business practices and customer service.

I don’t really care, either, except to repeat that I’ll not be likely to ever do business with them again in any manner, either as a customer or party to a transaction involving them.

But I do care about avoiding the appearance of arrogance and simply not caring about my customers.

And I’d even venture a guess that you care about this, too.

Thank You, Wells Fargo

So, I think you and I might be truly grateful to Wells Fargo for a lesson in how NOT to build good relationships with people… customers, clients, and prospects.

This way, we can see clearly how to avoid these boorish business practices, and remind our clients of how grateful we are for their business, and how we will humbly serve their needs because of their confidence in us.

So, for this important lesson to bloggers, internet marketers and entrepreneurs of every stripe, I say, “Thank You, Wells Fargo.”

Quick Self-Assessment Quiz

Do you humble yourself when dealing with your customers and clients, or do you remind them that you’re too important to be concerned with their petty issues, or customer support?  

Are you truly grateful for their business, or do you take it for granted, and expect even more because you are so good at what you do?  

And, finally, are you truly responsive to your clients’ needs? Do you ask them regularly (maybe with surveys, for instance) how you can serve their needs better?  If so, do you actually take steps to serving their needs better?

I’d love to hear your responses in the comments section below.

And don’t forget to share this article on your social sites.  I appreciate it!

David Merrill 101
I'm an Internet Marketer and Online Marketing Coach. My students learn no-nonsense, power strategies and techniques to build solid blogging and internet businesses. David Merrill+

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22 Responses to Relationship Marketing | Wells Fargo Review

  1. Silviu September 9, 2013 at 2:46 pm #

    Hi David,

    The answer is easy: you need to humble yourself a little bit when you deal with your customers and clients. You need to show them respect, be helpful even when you are not in the mood or don’t like that client etc.

    In my opinion, this is an art that must be learnt. It takes time, exercise and the willing to forget all the failures.

    I don’t deal with customers, yet. However, I did almost all the mistakes you mentioned in the post. Now I try to be more careful. I think this is what happens in the beginning, no matter who you are.

    On the other hand it is a good thing that a part of the competition is arrogant. This gives other people who are not so “big” a chance to apply relationship marketing principles and take their clients.

    Now, because the clients are not satisfied it is very …. moral to take them and this cannot be called stealing.

    This post is an excellent description of relationship marketing with an example from real life. I will gladly share for other people to know, too.

    Thank you.

    Have a wonderful day
    Silviu´s last blog post ..What is your Favorite Online Community?

    • David Merrill 101 September 11, 2013 at 9:42 pm #

      Thanks for your comments, Silviu.

      You make a really excellent point… the fact that so many of our high-visibility online competitors act like big companies… impersonal, unresponsive and arrogant… certainly gives us an opportunity to build our businesses by applying true relationship marketing strategies.

  2. nick catricala September 14, 2013 at 8:23 pm #

    wow, I am not in the USA… so not certain how in the world things are on that side of the world… but one thing is certain, you clearly shared what this Well Fargo PR suck 🙂

    I feel for you and Donna for going through all this ordeal when you both done such a great job to prepare the home and happily sold it to a nice family.

    Now I know what to do if I even buy a property in the USA and for certain Wells Fargo will not be the bank I will deal with haha 🙂

    Thanks so much for sharing your not so great experience and hope now all is well in your new home and new town.
    nick catricala´s last blog post ..A picture is worth 100 words…

    • David Merrill 101 September 14, 2013 at 9:18 pm #

      I guess most big banks act in this high-minded manner, Nick.

      If I were to recommend a bank to someone, I’d probably suggest small, local Savings and Loans, or even credit unions. They seem more personal and responsive to me.

      The bigger point here, though, is to recognize the pitfalls of this remote attitude, and to avoid it in our own online businesses.

      Online business is all about relationship building, and making ourselves lofty and unapproachable is a fast track to failure for the entrepreneur, even if not for huge corporations that may feel unaccountable to their public.

      • nick catricala September 20, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

        thanks for your reply to my early comment.. you are correct, the point here was to understand what we need to do online while we work with customers or anyone who happen to come on our site for help, support or just to give us their time in any manner.. it is always great to be respectful and interact with them so we both can be clear for what we do, or what we say or what we want to convey.

        Actually, I wanted to add something else last time I was here and that was in regard to how many people use the same manners as the big banks as “Well Fargo” and I am certain you noticed that as well.

        You go to a store and the owner is sitting somewhere out back or front.. and you are there for 5 minutes looking around and he/she will not get up to greet you or ask if you need support or what ever…

        I am amazed of all that and sometime I interact with them for the purpose to chat about anything and then point out (politely) that it would make me feel much better if they would offer support when I just come in because I may look for something but cannot find and they could help me right away.

        Well, not every time, but sometime I get a rude response and so I just say thank you and move on.. when outside, I say to my self… wow, this person sure teach me what NOT to do in case I ever get in his position…

        And so, that is what I do online… if anyone contact me, I always, always reply or contact them back and let them know I am for real.

        But I must admit, sometime I overlook it or for some reason I am busy doing other projects and I miss them, but anytime I find them, right away connect and explain what have happened.

        I am certain you are the same and probably have better way to connect with people.. and that is wonderful.
        nick catricala´s last blog post ..Authors Page

        • David Merrill 101 September 20, 2013 at 8:58 pm #

          Every experience is a learning opportunity, and a challenge to improve the way we do business ourselves.

          Thanks for pointing that out, Nick.

          We never need to regret the way we’ve been mistreated if we focus instead on learning how not to behave in our business.

  3. Jupiter Jim September 18, 2013 at 11:32 pm #


    Great story. Thanks for sharing. So how soon after the phone call did the buyer finally close the deal?

    What a horror story! I would have been sooooo pissed off! On the other hand, getting angry won’t help any more than being ‘nice’ didn’t help.

    I am stating the obvious here but I guess it’s the corporate culture at Wells Fargo. The employees are Never taught that happy clients refer other happy clients to grow the business. The employees are never taught about being part of a team or about helping people (like the paying clients, for instance!).

    The employees are simply keeping the chair warm so that they can get their check every two weeks. And Wells Fuggo obviously fosters that crappy behavior.

    When I go to Winn Dixie supermarket, I asked an employee where the coffee was. The employee Never Stopped to look at me. After had passed me, they just said “Isle 9” and kept walking… What a joke! That would NEVER happen at Publix supermarkets, which is why Publix crushes Winn Dixie every time. Hardly anyone shops at Winn Dixie if there’s a Publix nearby.

    Sounds like Wells Fuggo has the same crappy culture from the head down. They say the fish rots from the head down. I don’t really know about fish, but sounds like Wells Fuggo is definitely rotting!

    So sad! Employees would rather work in a place where there is corporate pride in the teamwork and job performance.

    ~ Jupiter Jim
    Jupiter Jim´s last blog post ..WordPress 3.6 is Here — Features and Installation Video.

    • David Merrill 101 September 20, 2013 at 8:48 pm #

      As you say, Jim… “keeping the chair warm”…

      That seems to be the main function of far too many people who sit in positions of authority in corporations, or in government, too, for that matter. While many people think there’s a big difference between the two, government employees far too often act just like their corporate counterparts in their seemingly stubborn lack of humility and accountability.

      In either case, “chair warmers” typically have only their own interests in mind when they do their jobs. As entrepreneurs, our customers’ interest must be foremost, or we probably won’t be in business for long. After all, we aren’t being funded by tax payers or shareholders.

  4. William Amis September 20, 2013 at 1:26 am #

    David it always goes back to the fundamentals of customer service. We all should re-evaluate our practices of customer service and go the extra mile to really remember active listing when dealing with people. You never know who the next amazing contact may be.

    You have shown us that we all have to adjust the way we treat each other and be honest with saying I must take time to look into this matter vs. making up thing and all together avoiding the real truth.

    David you are a visionary in our industry and do so much to help us all. You can never give more than you have yet you manage to do so. Thank you from this loyal reader.
    William Amis´s last blog post ..Take Your Time!

    • David Merrill 101 September 20, 2013 at 8:53 pm #

      You’ve chosen a very appropriate term, William… “avoid”…

      Avoidance of responsibility and lack of sincere concern seem to be the essential cornerstones of the worst customer service practices that can be devised.

      Thanks for your kind words, William. I appreciate it.

  5. Rick Lelchuk September 21, 2013 at 5:33 pm #


    I was caught in a Wells Fargo deal where both sides of the transaction were Wells Fargo customers. Made no difference. I’ve since pulled all of my accounts from them and will never have another.

    You never know who you’re talking to, their reach and influence. How, being in business, could you possibly take the chance of being arrogant to anyone? It’s gonna come back to bite you. Is the customer always right? Not so sure about it and there are ways to handle situations that leave all parties taken care of and empowered.

    You are so right to find the lesson in your experience, because there always is something to be learned, either what you want to apply to your business, or what you’d never consider doing. Good lesson!!

    Rick Lelchuk´s last blog post ..The Quick Fix vs. Mother Nature

    • David Merrill 101 October 2, 2013 at 7:46 pm #

      True, true, Rick.

      You never do know who you’re talking to, and so the best policy is to always, always assume you are talking to the most important customer/client in the world. Because you know what, they ALL are!

      Our customer/client base is not comprised of tiers of members, but a conglomerate base in which each and every member is as important as the other.

      If we treat our customers like that, we will never have to worry about being successful. It will just happen.

  6. Willena Flewelling September 22, 2013 at 1:59 am #

    It is all about relationships, isn’t it. Relationship building is easier for some than for others, but no one says we all have to it the same way. The important thing is that our clients and team members KNOW we care for them and they are important to us. Thank you for the great reminder.

    Willena Flewelling´s last blog post ..The Ebb and Flow of Life

    • David Merrill 101 October 2, 2013 at 7:48 pm #

      If we can make “our clients and team members KNOW we care for them”… we have forged the single most important linchpin in our business.

      Thanks for the insight, Willena.

  7. Shelley Alexander September 22, 2013 at 5:33 pm #


    I’m sorry to hear about your bad experience with Wells Fargo. As a business owner myself, I know the importance of going above and beyond to make sure your clients are happy with your services. By doing all you can to make sure you meet their needs, they will continue to do business with you and spread the word to help bring new clients to you.
    Shelley Alexander´s last blog post ..Pumpkin Coconut Butter

    • David Merrill 101 October 2, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

      You make 2 critical observations, Shelley.

      Make your customers/clients happy, and they will continue doing business with you AND they will tell others about you, too.

      You just can’t buy that kind of loyalty… you must earn it.

  8. Alan Jenkin September 23, 2013 at 11:22 am #

    What a perfect example of how NOT to do it, David! I have had similar experiences with three different banks/credit card companies in the past. Arrogance, unhelpfulness, you name it!
    Every month or two I get unsolicited offers of credit cards from each of them, and every month or two those offers go straight in the trash without opening. None of those companies will ever have my business again.
    Thanks for the reminder – I don’t believe I behave that way, but I’ll certainly take more care in future!
    Alan Jenkin´s last blog post ..Why Don’t People Say TGIM More?

    • David Merrill 101 October 2, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

      Even if no arrogance is intended, Alan, business owners can’t afford even the mis-perception of it.

      It’s just so much easier to treat folks right than to always be explaining away your arrogance.

      I don’t know, maybe banks don’t play by the same rules that we entrepreneurs do.

      Maybe the really don’t care!

  9. Silviu September 25, 2013 at 4:33 am #

    Hi David,

    The phrase “corporate culture” from the comments sparked my interest. I used to have a great opinion about international, multinational companies and their “corporate culture”. Whole countries in Europe and worldwide were mesmerized by this “thing” and wanted to learn it. Many people constantly praise this corporate culture.

    In reality, it seems only a few big companies have a real, advanced culture. I wonder why? Maybe because this means to invest a lot of time and money in your employees. With the economic crisis and the desperate need to cut the costs, many companies decided to stop investing in training and keep the old ways of doing business. They decided it still works so why walking an extra mile?

    Also, it seems a clash between two business mindsets. One (still a minority) values the client and focuses on relationships. The other one focuses on products and advertising. Probably the future belongs to the first one. But it will take a lot of time.

    Have a wonderful day
    Silviu´s last blog post ..Social Media Tools for Content Syndication: Friendsplus.me

    • David Merrill 101 October 2, 2013 at 7:56 pm #

      Well you make a good pint, Silviu.

      The “corporate culture” image doesn’t need to be a negative, although it seems like most people jump to that conclusion just by the fact that a business is a “corporation”.

      Isn’t it funny how everyone seems to hate big corporations, but they love big governments. Maybe because they’re not shareholders of big corporations, but they are of big governments. It makes a difference who’s on the “in” and who’s on the “out” I suppose.

  10. Julieanne van Zyl November 1, 2013 at 11:39 pm #

    Hi David, I would’ve loved to hear the end of the story:-) I know you have moved into your new home, so they must have told the client the date in the end? I’ve bought and sold 2 houses in my lifetime, and had a VERY pleasant experience both times, so I’ve been lucky. The agent who sold our house was the opposite from your story, he was right into building relationships. He even put flowers in our house to welcome the buyer, and he followed up with us 3 or 4 times afterwards, to make sure we’d settled interstate and found another home (he had no interest in that whatsoever because we were interstate).

    If we ever buy another house in that state, we’ll definitely deal with him!
    Julieanne van Zyl´s last blog post ..On The Bus

    • David Merrill 101 November 4, 2013 at 11:03 pm #

      Well, yea, the story ended with everyone getting to the closing table, Julieanne.

      But it wasn’t really easy.

      We had quite a struggle and only the buyer’s initiative in pressuring the bank finally made things happen within the necessary time frame.

      Too bad that big companies like Wells Fargo don’t seem to care about the customers as much as their own procedures and convenience.

      I can’t imagine trying to run an online entrepreneurial enterprise that way.

      But, yes. We got “the deal” done, though it was no small effort.

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