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**PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS AN OPINION UNDER THE CUSTOMER SERVICE CATEGORY AND THEREFORE WILL NOT CONTAIN DETAILS ON THE PRODUCTS OFFERED**
Those of you who have read my rants about the poor service I received for my business banking with Barclays will remember I was in the process of moving my account elsewhere. The difficulty in this was trying to work out which banks would live up to their promises. In reality they all offer a similar service, free banking for twelve months etc, but trying to judge which one would deliver is near impossible. Even talking to other business owners it became apparent that even those with the same banks had very different experiences. In the end I chose NatWest, purely on the basis they had appeared reliable to most people I had spoken with and that when Iíd spoken to a representative a year or so ago, I was very impressed with what they had to offer.
**Opening the account**
This level of customer service was again evident from the first phone call I made to them in trying to move my business account. When I rang my local branch the receptionist was very knowledgeable and arranged for a business manager to call me. She asked relevant questions and through her professionalism instilled a certain degree of confidence in me early on in the exchanges, something Barclays didnít always achieve.
Within half an hour the relevant business manager had called me back and after a few general questions regarding the status of my business arranged a meeting for two days time, which I thought was excellent.
On the day of the meeting I was impressed with the whole set up, from the dťcor to the fact that I was offered a drink. These might some small things but they all help in building confidence with the bank. But what impressed me most was the business bank manger that I met. Not only was her knowledge spot on but also her organisation, professionalism and general friendly nature were exceptional. All these factors made me comfortable and, already knowing the terms of the account, I was more than happy to open one with NatWest.
Helped immensely by the managerís organisation and preparation, the whole process was fairly quick and smooth. Plenty of paper work as expected but what could have turned into a couple of hours slog was all done and dusted within forty-five minutes. In that time I was given all the details I needed, including several leaflets, and wasnít pressured into purchasing any other financially related products. Of course they were mentioned but I felt at ease to decline them without feeling that our relationship would be affected.
When I left the meeting I was informed that they would have to do a credit check and then my account details would be sent out in a few days. I received these three days later, along with a welcome letter, closely followed over the next couple of days by my chequebook and charge card. All in all, the customer service on opening the account had been much better than I ever anticipated.
**General Customer Service**
Due to the fact that my business wasnít a start-up I was offered one of two accounts; the Business Account or The Direct Banking Account. Both are self explanatory with the second offering the same service but online. I chose the Business Account, as personally I prefer the one-to-one contact that this offers between the business manager and myself. Straight away you are given a direct line to both them and their secretary, as well as their mobile numbers if they use have one. Not only does this give me more interaction with them but also helps them build up a better picture of my business, which ultimately can only be beneficial for both parties. This is something I feel that is important to the business and was not evident when I banked with Barclays. The relationship there was in no way as professional and the manager was both unorganised and not knowledgeable enough within her position.
At NatWest they also let you get on with running the business. If you want to contact them then you can as much as you want, with all advice being free. At the same time they donít contact me unless itís really necessary, other than twice a year just to check that Iím happy with the way my account is being handled. This has continued through out the first few months of my account and I am confident they will stay this way. If I ever leave a message for my manager they always reply very quickly and nearly always their knowledge is sufficient to deal with the matter, rarely having to refer to someone in a higher position.
The level of customer service has been excellent from the very first contact I made with the bank. Not only has it exceeded my expectations but also put Barclays to shame and proved just how poor their service was.
What most impresses me about NatWest is that the same high standards seem to be kept throughout the whole company, from receptionists and cashiers to phone banking operators and managers. This instils a level of confidence in me and at the same time makes me comfortable in contacting them regarding any issue. I feel like a valued customer where as at Barclays I just felt like another customer.
A point I have made in other opinions that I feel I should also make now is that I have found that often the customer service levels at all different banks are changeable on a local level, hence the varying opinions of many on the same bank. Maybe if I had opened my original account at a different branch of Barclays or been given a different business manager things may have been different, similar with NatWest.
Through my experiences though I would urge anyone setting up a business to talk to NatWest and I hope you receive the high levels of customer satisfaction that I do.