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I had a good bank – or so I thought. For many years I would call what I received as “acceptable service,” meaning that it was good enough for me not to ever think twice about, but never too good to have me overly satisfied. This came to an end yesterday when I had two issues back-to-back.

Both issues ended up being errors made by separate employees at the bank.

However, when I called for answers and solutions, the response I received back was that they acknowledged that someone at the bank made the errors; but there was nothing they could do to fix it.

This not only baffled me, it damaged my view of the credibility and ability of this establishment.

After being told (by several people) over the phone that they can’t help me (off a script they were reading to avoid litigation) they asked me a question.

“Is there anything else we can help with you today?”

My first inclination was to shoot back “well you didn’t help me with my first two problems, I’m honestly afraid to ask for anything else.” But after a brief pause I then asked to be connected to the complaints department.

Coincidentally as they were transferring me over I was “accidentally” disconnected from the call – but I did call back and I did go through with a filing of a formal complaint.

N0w this entire process took up more than an hour of my time and at the end of it all, neither of my problems were resolved. So why did I do it? To answer that question. I have another short and true story for you.

It was about eight years ago I was working for a local features magazine that, at the time, was the biggest client I had. One afternoon I was sent out on assignment and after the shoot was done, I knew that I did not do a great job on it. Whether it was ego or a young-foolish decision – I turned the project in anyway. Shortly after I received a call from the photo editor of the magazine and I will never forget what she said to me.

“I’m very perplexed as to the quality of these images.”

Those words become permanently tattooed into my brain, as did the feeling that came along with it.

Not only did I immediately reshoot the project; I made it better than I could have imagined. The photo editor was happy, the magazine was happy and I continued to get lots of work through the client… until they went out of business a year or so later. It took that one critique to shift how I took on projects from then on.

It was the right of that photo editor to complain, just as it was my right as a member of the bank to complain.

Business providers are responsible for providing us with a professional service or product – but we as consumers are also responsible for our satisfaction on the purchases we make.

We are also responsible to other consumers who are “like us.” That is why we review on our online purchases and share our experiences with others. We are a society of armchair critics as we want others to share in the great products and services we know about as well as to protect them form the negative ones.

This is why, as a business owner, I debrief with my clients after many of our projects. It is great to know what went well on the project, but it is even more useful to know what could be improved upon for the next project.

Your complaints or your critiques of those you hire may or may not fix your situation; but being open about it can protect others from the same results. Just look at what Jeff Jarvis was able to achieve through a blog he posted called “Dell Hell.”

Perhaps sometime between now and the end of time, an executive at the bank will decide to look through the stack of formal complaints for a chuckle, but instead see mine and has a moment of sheer brilliance and mental clarity when he thinks “hey, this is actually a very easy fix – let’s fix it so others don’t have to deal with this.”

We can hope at least.

James Patrick
Instagram @jpatrickphoto
Twitter @jpphotography