Wells Fargo has been embroiled in a scandal for weeks and is finally communicating directly with customers. In an email, the company didn't quite apologize, but it did acknowledge mistakes. An FAQ on the company's website says little more.
The message may be too little, too late. Oddly, the email was sent within a day of CEO John Stumpf's resignation, but we see no mention of leadership changes. This may be a missed opportunity. In addition, these types of messages typically take a more personal approach: we would expect to see a signature at the bottom—an indication of someone taking responsibility for making things better, as the company promises. In addition, Wells Fargo has taken out full-page newspaper ads with the same four points as in the customer email.
In the meantime, the news is getting worse. More employees are coming forward saying they had complained about company practices but were ignored. Employees report extreme pressure to sell, and more news is surfacing about which customers were targeted, for example, immigrants with little English and older people.
A New Republic article, "Corporations Ignore Whistleblowers at Their Peril," includes the subtitle, "Wells Fargo could have saved itself some trouble by listening to employees." Employees report worse than being ignored: they suffered retaliation.
- Assess the email to customers. How could the message be improved?
- What hope do you see for Wells Fargo? If you were the new CEO, what would you do now?