THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

More bad service from HSBC

I amaze even myself sometimes, in that I am still banking with HSBC after 10 years – and yet their customer service has all but dissapeared in that time. I used to have a great bank manager in their Warrangton branch – a lady who I met with periodically, took an interest in my business, chastised me when I broke the rules and spent money I didn’t have, lent me money when I needed it, congratulated me on my business successes. She felt like a member of my extended team – one of my “Personal Board of Directors” as Ernest Oriente would describe it. That was 10 years ago. Nowadays I don’t even know who my manager is. Or if there is one?

Do bank managers really exist mummy? No dear – they used to in the old days.

Two days ago I tried calling the bank to update some information – and spent 30 minutes trying to understand the very poor English of somebody who sounded from the Phillipines and could only work from the script that was clearly pinned to their work station. I eventually gave up as my blood pressure increased and the arteries around my heart began to atrophy. Today I spoke with Emma in Malta (very nice lady with great English – told me how it was cold and raining in the Med today) – 40 minutes to be told that she could not trace the answer I was looking for and would ask sombody (from where?)to call my mobile phone with an answer, sometime. I did actually ask her “will they email, write or call me?” – and she admitted that she hadn’t any idea. I don’t sit in call waiting systems any more – I delegate and outsource – but this was one of those rare occasions when I got caught in the machine. 40 minutes on a mobile phone – Emma had to re-set my internet banking security number twice because the system screwed up, she had to leave the call three times to get information from other parts of the HSBC global empire. The individual people are trying their best to use a system that is purely designed to reduce HSBC’s operating costs – and gives no value to relationships whatsoever. Does anybody know of a bank which still employs local people who can look after me? I’ve so had enough. But it remains fascinating that I’ve tolerated this lack of service for probably 5 years now – customer inertia is a powerful force indeed. I lecture on customer service and tolerate its absence – because I normally delegate the hassle to my support team. Now that I’m back on the receiving end I don’t like it. Dare I say that a treatment co-ordinator/care nurse in a dental practice or a customer relationship manager in a coaching practice would deliver the service I’m looking for from a bank? It does make me think about who looks after my clients – and how much I value the fact that the whole team do.

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