Banks; Service so Bad it’s Good

I know it’s open season on banks at the moment and writing a blog post on how bad banks are at customer service is like taking sweets from a baby. It’s definitely not the most original topic but hey I can’t help it and I’ll explain why later.

Two banking related problems stumbled into view this week.

First of all this week the RBS in the UK suffered a SW upgrade fault that caused problems for millions of their customers. Thousands of customers failed to have money transferred into or out of their accounts leading to significant problems. Now we all know every company makes mistakes, what differentiates leading customer service organizations however is how they respond when problems occur.

So how did RBs respond? Well here’s one example where they left a customer stranded at a Spanish airport for 4 days and wouldn’t increase his credit limit to allow him to proceed with his holiday plans.

It’s not as though this problem was completely unexpected either. They had a similar glitch last year as well.

The second banking event of the week concerns the ongoing problems I’m having with my own bank. In my white paper on how organizations can use Case Management to transform ustomer service I describe how last year it took them over 3 months to process a name change on my account. This year it’s taken them 4 months to process my car loan application. Some of the classic customer service issues I experienced were:

  • Repeatedly having to submit proof of identity information.
  • Failing to update me on the status of my application.
  • Failure to meet any SLAs.
  • Having to interact with multiple poorly connected departments
  • Failure to have any coherent complaints management process

Both these events are clear examples of poor customer service processes. In the first case an inability to quickly adapt business process in response to unpredictable events and in the second an inability to manage processes that cross multiple departments and involve multiple participants.

So I hear you say, well if the service is so bad with your bank why don’t you leave? To explain why I don’t leave I’m going to quote Alvy Singer. Alvy Singer is the hero from Woody Allen’s Annie Hall movie and towards the end of the movie he uses a joke to explain why he keeps putting himself through the wringer of his bad relationship with Annie.

Alvy Singer [narrating] this guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, “Doc, uh, my brother’s crazy; he thinks he’s a chicken.” And, uh, the doctor says, “Well, why don’t you turn him in?” The guy says, “I would, but I need the eggs.” Well, I guess that’s pretty much now how I feel about relationships; y’know, they’re totally irrational, and crazy, and absurd, and… but, uh, I guess we keep goin’ through it because, uh, most of us… need the eggs. 

I guess I’m the customer service equivalent of Alvy singer. I need my bank because I need their eggs. I need them to continue to show me how bad customer service can be and give me the motivation to try and improve things.Their service is so bad that it’s good.


2 thoughts on “Banks; Service so Bad it’s Good

  1. I am a bank official, in retail banking. I too am appalled at the level of customer care afforded to everybody theses days. Could I just say that at the moment, in retail banking, the focus is on cuts in spending. FULL STOP…. i wish to remain anonymous to protect my job, but up until a few years ago, when employees were on holidays, sick leave, maternity leave, etc, there was a team of ‘relief staff’ on hand to cover for them and every summer, due to busy season, a temporary employee was taken on to cope with the extra work load and ensure that the queues moved quickly and adequate staff were on hand to cater for customers needs. The motto was without our customers, we would not have our jobs, and rightly so. Today, the focus is on coping with as little staff as possible. Feck the customers, let them use ATMs, online banking, LATM’s, anything but call in personally to the branch so that cashiers and customer service officials can be disposed of. And huge savings made in the salary situation..

    I have become very disillusioned with the service offered to customers across the entire banking network. I believe that the customer and his/her needs come first. And if they want to come into the branch and get their cash from a teller, or process their lodgements with a teller, then they have a right to do so. They also have a right to use paper transactions, many do not trust cards and pin numbers. They have a right to speak personally to a lender if they do not wish to apply for loans on-line. After all, it is they who are entrusting their money to the banks, so that the banks in turn, can provide loans, mortgages, etc back to the public. If these people did not invest with our banks, well, it would be a different story.

    I would like to point out that I embrace technology, its brilliant, but it’s only brilliant for those who wish to avail of it, there has to be the alternative for those who do not…at this present time. I would assume in another 20 years, everybody will be more technology friendly, but let us be there and have patience for those who are not…

    Those of us in the banking sector must remember that it is our customers who ‘butter our bread’ every day. Without them, we are all standing in a dole queue. We have to be there for all of them.

  2. Pingback: Is Customer Experience Really Business Process Excellence? | The Computer Says How?

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