Bank of America has seen a lot of bad press lately.
Their reputation for greed has been amplified by their plans to charge some debit-card users (those with the lowest monthly balances) a $5 monthly fee. The charge is the company's attempt to recoup revenue lost by the governmental crackdown on fees targeting consumers. The fee was announced during the Occupy Wall Street protests designed to point out such anti-consumer practices. In response to BofA's fee hikes, there have been calls for customers to withdraw their deposits in protest.
Additionally, the bank ranked lowest in a 24-bank survey of small business customer satisfaction from J.D. Power and Associates this month.
In response to the bad press, Bank of Americas CEO Brian T. Moynihan is quoted as being “incensed” by public criticism of his company and is pushing back by reminding local leaders of its contributions to their economies.
He's told employees that the “place to win the battle” over the bank’s battered public image is at the state and municipal level.
“I, like you, get a little incensed when you think about how much good all of you do, whether it’s volunteer hours, charitable giving we do, serving clients and customers well,” Moynihan said during the Oct. 18 gathering. To the bank’s critics, he said, “You ought to think a little about that before you start yelling at us.”
As part of the campaign, executives are making phone calls and visits to local officials and community leaders, and sending lettes explaining how much the bank lends to area businesses and how many employees it has across the country (at the same time it announced a reduction of 30,000 employees from its workforce).
The company has bought print advertising in 27 markets and television ads in 15 markets as part of this campaign.
But the question remains, can Bank of America continue policies (such as the debit-card fees) that hurt their customer's pocket books, and expect to improve its reputation by approaching local government leaders instead of being focused on their customers? Few companies survive when they forget who their customers are.