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Photo of Wells Fargo customer Ed Reynolds with Personal Banker Vicky Thompson at the Wells Fargo branch in Lubbock, Texas, where she helped him convert rewards points to cash and sparked a family reunion.
Ed and Evelyn Reynolds on their Lubbock, Texas, farm with Vicky Thompson, the Wells Fargo banker who helped bring their family together.

How one phone call from the bank led to a family reunion

When Wells Fargo banker Vicky Thompson called Ed Reynolds in Lubbock, Texas, she never imagined her call would help bring a family together.

October 2, 2018

Farm Road 40 in Lubbock, Texas, runs straight past Ed Reynolds’ home, splitting field after field of green cotton plants glistening in the sun.

Caring for his more than 640-acre piece of the world’s largest cotton patch is a full day’s work for the 81-year-old cotton farmer and former crop-dusting pilot who does it all with the help of just one paid hand.

According to the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce, the city is home to the largest contiguous cotton-growing region in the world. High Plains growers like Reynolds produce an average of 4 million bales of cotton annually. That’s enough cotton to make almost a billion pairs of jeans and 1.7 billion men’s sports shirts — each year.

“I just like to see stuff grow and love farming because of the challenge,” Reynolds said of the cotton fields that appear to stretch for miles behind his ranch-style house.

“I moved around a lot, but this is home,” he said. “I love everything about Lubbock but the sand storms.”

Reynolds was home on the farm when the phone rang one morning after he and his wife Evelyn enjoyed their morning coffee.

It was Wells Fargo Personal Banker Vicky Thompson, calling to thank Reynolds for being a customer for 23 years and to remind him that he had unused credit card reward points — 64,000 points to be exact.

“That’s $640 if the customer wants to cash those in, so I thanked him for his service first and then noted the points,” Thompson said.

“I use the credit card to pay my seed bill and chemical bill and herbicides,” Reynolds said of how he accumulated so many points. “I remember when I first started cotton farming, a bag of cottonseed cost about $12 or $14. Now it’s $420.”

Thompson’s call was possible because of Customer Relationship View, or CRV, a new customer relationship platform developed by Wells Fargo and Salesforce. Introduced first to Wells Fargo branches in March, but coming soon to call centers, lending, and other consumer businesses, CRV is like an electronic customer journal and address book. It gives the company a more holistic view of its customers and saves customers from rehashing interactions they’ve had with others at the bank.

“He was surprised that we were calling just to thank him and not sell anything, and appreciated my bringing up the rewards points since he didn’t know how to redeem them at the ATM,” she said. “I invited him into the branch to show him how, and he came in the very next day. I feel by making these calls that I am building lasting relationships with my customers.”

Selfie photo of Ed and Evelyn Reynolds and family at the reunion made possible in part by converting Ed's credit card rewards points to cash.
Reunited: Ed and Evelyn Reynolds, back right, with her son Russell, back left, grandson Will, front right, and other family members.

‘I was just thankful that we could get him here’

While helping Reynolds redeem his reward points at the ATM, Thompson learned what Reynolds planned to do with the money: fly his stepson and grandson to Lubbock to spend time with his wife as she battled breast cancer.

Diagnosed in January 2018, Evelyn Reynolds had already undergone surgery and chemotherapy and was preparing to start the first of 28 radiation treatments at the Joe Arrington Cancer Research and Treatment Center in Lubbock.

“At the time, we didn’t know how bad it was going to be,” he said of his wife’s cancer. “I lost my first wife to cancer, and my son at the time was living in New York and got here a little bit before she passed.

“I knew Evelyn would enjoy seeing her son, Russell, and grandson, and so I used the money from the points to help them get here,” Reynolds said. “It was comforting for us, and I was just thankful that we could get them here.”

The gesture meant the world to Evelyn Reynolds.

“We picked him up at the airport, and the first thing he said was, ‘I love you, mom,’ and he hugged me,” she said. “He always tells me how much he loves me. I was weak from the treatments but so glad to see them.”

More than 850,000 customer connections

Mary Mack, head of Consumer Banking, said satisfaction scores are up across the company’s bank branches as team members become better connected with their customers and shift the focus from products to people and their needs.

“The new Customer Relationship View platform, and calls like the one Vicky made to Ed that it supports, are all about making sure our customers know all the value they have in their Wells Fargo relationship,” Mack said. “What motivates me every day is to stay connected to the mission of what we do: to make a difference in the lives of our customers.”

Since the system was introduced in March 2018, bankers like Thompson have made more than 850,000 calls to customers. Along with recognizing anniversaries, the calls have allowed bankers to respond to questions from customers — including how to renew safe deposit boxes, roll over 401ks, finance weddings and college, consolidate debt, purchase a home, and more — and set follow-up face-to-face meetings in branches.

“Whether it’s letting customers know they have benefits or points they didn’t know about or how to use,” said Mack, “or if it’s to help people learn how to save for retirement, or send a kid to college, or buy their first car, or buy their first home, our mission is to make a difference in the lives of our customers. 

“It starts with a relationship, and we now have the tools to really understand the whole relationship for our customers across Wells Fargo.”

Contributors: Christopher Frers