How OCBC missed a golden opportunity to win me & many customers over

In Nov 2018, I walked past an OCBC ATM machine in Fortune Centre, Singapore and heard an alarm bell go off & realised that it was coming from the machine. I saw a bunch of notes lying on the open tray but nobody was paying any attention to it. I made the quick decision to keep the cash to prevent theft but with the intention to return it to the rightful owner.

A week later I walk into the doors of an OCBC branch to return the money, but made it clear to the bank that I wanted to be informed when the money is returned to the rightful owner, and what they would do if this owner did not come forward. The bank officer thanked me and agreed to my requests.

I don’t hear from them for a few weeks but finally get a reply (see pic) after I email them a chaser. They found the owner but did not update me.

The bank was sloppy here but has done no wrong – professionally – but as a PR practitioner I believe OCBC missed out on a great opportunity to capitalise on this simple act of civic mindedness to win customers.

Banks already spend thousands on creative agencies to roll out glitzy campaigns and manufacture stories for social media to tug at heartstrings, but sitting under their nose was an authentic, honest-to-god story of a civic-minded citizen who is not an OCBC customer but wants the best for another. Perhaps OCBC could have easily contacted the rightful owner and me to film a simple video or/and write a Facebook post of this real-life exchange. What a wonderfully authentic but cost-effective way to win marketshare! If this is deemed too bothersome or time-consuming, I wonder why the lovely bank manager Florence did not offer to perhaps give me a $10 gift voucher or get a senior staff to write me a letter of appreciation? Any simple gesture of acknowledgement would have won me over and many more after my sharing with friends, family and colleagues is done.

In this age of corporate distrust, dismal bank interest rates and fierce competition, any chance to demonstrate authenticity and honesty is gold.

As a counsellor, this episode makes me question the emotional state of our workforce the country is producing. We are trained and equipped with the hardware to achieve optimum growth and healthy GDP figures, but where is our heartware and sense of creativity? Would things have been different if Florence loved and cared for her job so much so that she would want the best for her employer and think out of the box? Or are our workers so stressed and unhappy that when they witness a random act of “kindness” they offer the customary “thank you” and get on with their day?



3 thoughts on “How OCBC missed a golden opportunity to win me & many customers over”

  1. Definitely agree with you that while Singapore regularly churns out first-class academic results, we are not producing first-class thinkers & innovators. It could be there’s no Standard Operating Procedure at OCBC for people returning lost money, so they didn’t follow up. I can totally see an OCBC ad working superbly if they had a compilation of re-enactments of true stories of kindness done by their customers, and ending with a tag-line like “At OCBC, we strive to do our best, because we have the best customers.”

    1. First class thinkers and innovators are nice to have but EQ is good, too, and there’s no SOP needed for that. I think our workers just simply hate their jobs.

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