with Mir Kamin
I'm a freelance writer and mother of two working from home, which theoretically means I can set my own schedule so as to best accommodate my family. In reality, "flexible hours" often equals "working too much." Yes, I'm my own boss; no, that doesn't mean life is easy. It's hard to leave the office when you live there. But I love what I do and feel very lucky. And not just because I get paid to work in my pajamas.
To learn more about Mir, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! or visit her blog at http://www.wouldashoulda.com/
Perhaps the lesson most firmly driven home to me since beginning my life as a business entity is that I am my business and I need to conduct myself accordingly. My behavior and my work are inseparable, in the eyes of the public. That’s the blessing and the curse of being a freelancer, I guess.
The corollary to this realization is that corporations don’t seem to feel any such similar obligation to provide top-notch service and behavior. Is it because there’s no regulating a business entity to that level once you have more employees? Is it because they just don’t care? Is it because they can’t help it? I don’t know. But I do know that since going into business for myself I have a lot less patience for the business snafus of companies that should do better.
Which brings us to my business banking. Unfortunately.
Years ago, when I first moved down to Georgia, I went through more-than-necessary problems and issues in getting my business banking set up in my new town. At the time, I thought that because I’d carried my accounts with a national bank, the switchover would be seamless, but it turned out that the national bank in question manages all their banks in different states differently, and after multiple problems I finally gave up and went to a small, local bank. Where I was treated well and have happily banked for over three years, now.
Small, local businesses are more like solopreneurs, I’ve found. The people working there are more likely to take pride in their work, feel personal responsibility for their services and products, and just generally care.
So. Years of happy banking! And then about a month ago I started receiving letters from my bank, explaining that their online banking for business accounts was being switched over to a new system. And it would be better! Smarter! Faster! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! Okay, maybe not that last one. But I would love it, they assured me, and they would make it all very simple, not to worry. I’d say that on average I received two communications a week about the switch, which was slated to happen yesterday.
Eventually I received a new userid in the mail. Later, a new temporary password.
Now, a lot of my clients pay me via direct deposit. So the truth of the matter is that my bookkeeping depends heavily on the online banking interface, so that I can check on payments received. Yesterday was busy and I didn’t attempt to log on, but this morning it was the first thing I went to do.
And what do you suppose happened? If you guessed that my new userid and password didn’t work, you are correct!
My little bank is part of a larger corporation. I know the switchover is something that comes from the Big Office. I know I will get used to it and it will be fine. But I also know that this morning I lost an hour of my time—an hour for which I can’t bill anyone—trying to log on, calling the help line, waiting on hold, and eventually getting it all straightened out. After which I discovered that the “new, improved” interface is virtually indecipherable, and finding actual transaction logs was like a bizarre scavenger hunt through the Land of Frustration.
Major crisis? No. Annoying as all heck? Yeah. That.
They send me no less than eight separate communications about how seamless the switchover was going to be. How freaking hard is it to assign a password that works, the first time? Oh, well, I guess when you have thousands of clients, a few mistakes will happen, right?
But had I done something similar in my professional dealings, I would’ve looked terrible, and possibly lost a client. In today’s world of corporate giants, though, when a bank does something like this, we’re all supposed to just shrug and say, “It happens.”
It does happen. And I can’t get my hour back, and maybe it’s not a big deal. But I do think it’s a shame.
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