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For the longtime readers (hi mom!) out there, you know that my "Steal this idea" series is where I give away innovation ideas that I've had - they're free for the taking by any industry, existing company, or entrepreneur. I'll gladly accept board positions or stock grants from appreciative organizations that I've inspired, but my ideas are free for the taking.


This week, let's look at a way to improve the personal banking experience.


Situation: Frequently, some component of our personal security is compromised and our banks find it necessary to send us a new credit or debit card. The old number gets canceled. The new card arrives. No big deal, right? Wrong. Anyone that has been in this situation knows that they likely have at least 5 or 10 companies hitting that old card number automatically. Who can even remember who is billing what card and when anymore?


My wife and a friend were both victims of this in the last couple days, so it's top of mind as an area ripe for innovation. This is a classic example of an area where the customer ends up carrying the burden, when it should be the company.




Many ways to solve this one, I think, but here are a few ways that could result in a huge uplift in customer satisfaction.


1.) Lightweight idea: When they notify me of the breach in my card, or send me an updated card, provide me a report of vendors that appear to have recurring transactions hitting the old card. This prevents the surprise element of a declined transaction or a vendor calling my cell phone in the middle of a business meeting to tell me my card is coming back as invalid.


2.) Heavier weight idea: Selectively approve transactions based on purchasing history

This adds a very nominal amount of risk to the bank, but not much at all if they build the logic properly. In a nutshell, once your new card is activated, an approval request using your OLD number would trigger a query across your transaction history to look for identical transactions over a time period. If, for example, I pay my cable company 60 bucks a month on my bank Visa and they try to hit my old credit card number because I forgot to provide them the new one, my bank would automatically approve a new transaction (or queue it for my final approval) based on my documented history of a recurring transaction with that company over a sustained period of time in a consistent dollar amount.


Building on #2 above, it would be really awesome to just get a notice that a new transaction is pending on the old number, and allow me to log in to my online banking system and review a queue of transactions submitted for approval. I know this gets more into the gateway / interchange process and adds complexity, but there is too much competition for the entire financial services industry to not look at ways to move the needle.


3.) Heaviest weight idea: I was thinking about how even the USPS has had mail forwarding and "change of address" notifications for as long as I can remember, and quite possibly much longer. A few innovative startups have tried to centralize the process of updating tons of bulk mail houses and catalog companies when you move. But what about a change of credit card notification service? I'd like to enter my credit card number ONCE with a SINGLE VENDOR and then let them know which vendors they are allowed to communicate my information to. When my card changes, I update the information once, and the vendors systems are updated as well. Clearly, lots of security and trust involved here - but that's not going to change.


And yes, I think (daily) about ways to improve the customer experience at BMC, not just in other industry's. I would LOVE comments from readers on improvements they would love to see on, or in any other component of your experience with our company. We're listening.