In most cases, I find the customer service in America to be way behind China. Many stores here are understaffed; which means customers have to depend on themselves. While I was frustrated about whom to ask for help at Macy’s, I got marvelous service at American banks.

As soon as I walk into a branch, the receptionist and the security guard both greet me. A simple “How’re you doing today” recognizes and respects my presence. If I have questions about banking, I’ll be able to talk to a salesperson individually within a second. We’d sit down in a cubicle and discuss financial matters as if we were friends.

How can I get such private service without charge in China? If I were not a big customer, say an investor or a representative of a firm, I don’t have the opportunity to sit down and talk to a salesperson in a Chinese bank.

The American bank salespersons are usually patient, informative and friendly. I can tell they are well-trained and value customers first. I can trust them immediately because of their sincerity.

Due to cultural differences, Chinese tend to save money in their banks whether or not they are paid interest. But in America, I might be considered dumb if I only save money but do not invest it. More Americans tell me that American banks give low interest for deposits. I know. That’s why American banks often introduce customers to their various financial programs.

One difference from China is that American society accepts checks and credit cards and many other types of payments other than cash. It’s really a free market. Online banking is popular. In China, checks are not accepted and payment by credit cards and online banking has just started.

Frankly, a majority of Chinese are still used to using only cash. Weak security has defeated Chinese people’s confidence about Do-It-Yourself banking. As a result, lots of older Chinese and migrant workers would rather do banking in person over the counter. My mom was one of them. For years, she refused to learn how to use an ATM machine.

That explains why Chinese banks are always filled with people. A long queue is formed an hour before the bank opens. On the contrary, it always surprises me how fast the on-counter service is in an American bank. The lines are shorter and fewer than those in Chinese banks. And drive-in banking is a new thing to me. A visit to a major Chinese bank may take at least two hours if you are lucky. I used to bring a thick novel to kill time in the bank. In the US, however, waiting is no more than fifteen minutes.

Just as my feet step out of the doors of the bank, the security guard and the receptionist greet me again, “Have a nice day!”

In China, on the other hand, no one in the bank cares whether you are there.


Filed under: Prose, Songyi Zhang's America