Advantages On balance, service received has been adequate
Disadvantages mindless bureaucracy when it counted
|Efficiency of service|
|Competitiveness of charges/rates|
|Promptness of service||Average|
|Online - Content/organization of site||Not Applicable|
|Online - Reliability/speed of site||Not Applicable|
|Online - Ease of applying for products||Not Applicable|
Customer Service is a strange thing isn’t it. The thing is, we expect excellent customer service and therefore usually don’t even think twice when we receive it. In the case of a credit card, if you don’t have to ever contact them, then that must be a sign that all is going right. I have worked in contact Centre Management for a long time, in insurance, TV and Telephone sectors and you can generally expect that when you get an increase of calls into the call centre, something has gone very wrong.I am passionate about customer service and I just cannot stand it when mindless bureaucracy gets in the way of simple common sense service. I have always instilled in my teams that supervisors and managers should always be ready and able to take over a telephone call when a customer requests it, there is no demand on them which is more important. That’s why I thought I would share my little experience of the Royal Bank of Scotland MasterCard service, which came to its crescendo last week.
Now I have had the Royal Bank of Scotland card for years and years. Eight or nine I guess. Customer service in all that time has been fine. It must have been because I cannot remember anything to tell you. My statements arrived on time; I never had any issues with missing payments, strange debits, the call centre, or the ever increasing card limit which I was rewarded with along the way.I had one little issue in 2001. I opened a more competitive card and I accidentally “transferred” a couple of hundred pounds more debt to my new card (Goldfish), than I actually owed the Royal Bank of Scotland. This left me £200 in credit with RBS. I phoned and asked for a refund on at least three or four occasions over several weeks before this was resolved. It was especially frustrating as I had just taken redundancy and was trying to balance my income and expenses.
Anyway, my latest customer service experience with the RBS has left me no longer a customer at the Royal Bank of Scotland. I moved house you see. So, I painstakingly compiled a Word merge file of all the various people I needed to write to, informing them of my new address. There were 100 in total. Most of them received a letter from me. However my mistake with the RBS was to simply scribble my new address on to my statement and sent this to the bank with my payment that month. Unfortunately the statements I receive do not have the nice little section on the back for notifying them of these types of changes.Anyway, all was well. The bank received my letter two weeks before I moved, and wrote to me immediately at the New Address (which I wasn’t in yet), asking me to sign my correspondence. I signed it as soon as I received this correspondence and then sent it back.
Three weeks later, I get another letter, to the Old address this time (and I had moved by this time). This letter said they could not read my writing! Strange, as they had already written to me at the new address once! I was frustrated, as this was one of the few organisations that I corresponded with that had not confirmed this change. Furthermore, my statements were still going to the old address. I decided to phone the Contact Centre and clarify exactly what the address was. Easy.I navigated my way through the IVR (Interactive Voice Response), and found my way to a person. I explained what I wanted to do and she advised she would have to ask me some more security questions. Fine. Only I failed the first one because I could not remember what mobile number they had on file. Well I did take this card out eight years ago, when mobile phones were the size of a house brick, and I have probably had four or five mobile numbers since then. I failed the second question, simply because I did not have a statement in front of me to confirm some specific reference or other.
Now I am not advocating that banks shouldn’t ask these types of questions, indeed they should. However I asked to speak to a supervisor, because my simple brain told me that they had a piece of paper, with my signature on it, in their possession, and they were having a little bit of difficulty translating my scrawl (which can be bad at time, but they had interpreted it and written to me once!!!). As a manager in this field of business, I thought this would have been a simple problem to resolve. However the supervisor refused to come to the phone, she told the operator to tell me if I can use a computer, I could type a letter, sign that and send it in. How patronising is that, I thought!I asked the operator if I could cancel my card based on the security questions I had answered so far. She said yes, so I paid off my balance by switch and she cancelled my card. She told me that there would be a residual interest balance which would show up on my next statement (which I am not going to receive as I don’t live at that house anymore!!).
Anyway, I penned a letter to their complaints departments expressing my real frustration was that they were prepared to cancel a customer rather than have a supervisor come to the telephone when requested. I waited a week, and received a typical letter back. It apologised profusely for me having to communicate with them on four occasions for a simple change of address, thanked me for my valued custom, assured me that the matter would be investigated, and their records were now updated with my New Address.And the punch line – THEY SENT THE LETTER TO THE WRONG ADDRESS!!
So to summarise, in general my customer service experiences have been neutral over a sustained period, and this unfortunate incident which caused them to lose a customer seems like a simple case of bungled bureaucracy, which unfortunately is where all organisations let themselves down at some stage.Note, I haven’t gone into APR details and the like, (although the card is a couple of percentage points lower than most of the big names), as this category is specifically about the service experience and not the product itself. Hope this makes sense.
Helen BradshawFebruary 2003
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