JPMorgan will ditch customers who racially abuse its workers

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JPMorgan Chase is cracking down on racism by its customers. The bank is revamping a policy for dealing with abusive clients to include racism toward call-center employees as behavior that could warrant cutting ties with the customers.

"We are specifically calling out race to remind specialists that we will exit customer relationships when warranted regardless of how much money the customer has with us," Tom Horne, chief operating officer for card services at the bank, said in an interview Friday. "These are customers we don't need or want."

The bank cut ties with at least four clients who were racially abusive to call-center representatives in a two-week span after the video of George Floyd's killing by Minneapolis police went viral and led to protests nationwide, said Kisha Porch, who leads JPMorgan's call center in Tempe, Ariz.

"We've had examples where our customers have been inappropriate calling specialists names, using terms that are derogatory as it relates to race," said Porch, who said she has experienced racism from customers herself. "If those are escalated to me and if need to be, we will end a relationship with a customer."

JPMorgan's leaders have been working to adjust policies and procedures to help root out racism after a New York Times article in December described discrimination by its workers at an Arizona branch. Banks, which are increasingly being singled out for a legacy of systemic racism, are among companies addressing the issue across corporate America following public outcry after the killings of African Americans including Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.

The bank isn't alone in getting rid of clients over racism. Earlier this month, Amazon.com Inc. CEO Jeff Bezos posted on Instagram a screen shot of a profane, racist email he said he received from someone threatening to stop shopping with the retailer because of his support for Black Lives Matter, telling the person that "you're the kind of customer I'm happy to lose."

JPMorgan has long had a procedure for dealing with abusive, threatening or distressed clients, but it didn't explicitly include racial slurs as a form of abuse or specifically address how to handle racism, according to people with knowledge of the matter. If a customer is acting out, call-center workers are trained to ask them to stop and hang up if they don't.

The adjusted policy is meant to remind workers that the bank doesn't tolerate racism of any kind and that they should escalate instances where a client is racially abusive or insensitive to staff. A team of senior managers is empowered to make a case for JPMorgan ending its relationship with a customer if, after reviewing phone interactions, they find the client's behavior doesn't align with the firm's values.

"We know many people internalize those kinds of attacks," Horne said. "We do not want them doing that."

Bloomberg News
Customer experience Diversity and equality JPMorgan Chase
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