Customer Service Counts - The Marketing ShopToday I found myself at a local bank branch, technically at this point in time owned by the Irish taxpayer and to be honest it was quite probably one of the worst examples of customer service I’ve encountered yet.  I’ve decided to blog about it as no matter how much money you spend on marketing your business if you can’t deliver the service to match, it’s a total waste of your cash – or in this case, a waste of yet more Irish taxpayers cash!!

Here’s what I experienced in the 20 minutes I queued at a branch of one of Ireland’s biggest banks;

  • Cashiers reduced to two from four – in a branch where you frequently battle in the door to get in line in the first place at a busy time.
  • Kiosks replacing the above mentioned cashiers, with an “advisor” on hand to tell you how to use them – these advisors apparently don’t have a lot to do, today’s wasn’t the first I noted at this particular company with more time standing smiling at customers than actually “doing”.
  • NINE – I don’t exaggerate 9 personnel behind the counter at various stages, with 2 teller places and 2 desks at Customer Service.  4 of these appeared in the background at various points, 2 returned from their lunch – one of them delivering her shopping across the customer service desk as she did so!
  • A system that appears to be badly broken; you wait for a lengthy time to lodge cash or a cheque and it goes into your account immediately.  If however you opt for the “convenience” of the kiosk to avoid the queue the advisor informs it will be at least 7pm (several hours after closing!) before the payment hits your account and 3 days for cheques.  Hardly convenient if your plan was to pay a bill that day?
  • Another customer greeted loudly on her arrival as to the nature of her visit which was to arrange a new bank card.  The advisor put her on the phone to speak to somebody for the whole queue to hear only to spend ten minutes or so waiting and listening and be told to join the queue anyway.
  • An exceptionally poor and slow process, to be honest given the number of people who seemed to intervene on a couple of customers I was expecting to hear that this particular bank was experiencing an IT issue!
  • When I queried it with the young teller on the desk I was told “it’s a bit slow because we’re just taking over at lunch” – does that mean they’re this slow every day?  Or more worryingly is the bank in question allowing people who are not properly trained to take over the lunchtime shift?

The bank in question as I’ve stated above are owned by the Irish taxpayer and although I don’t generally blog on customer service here at The Marketing Shop I felt it appropriate to highlight that as a customer this bank has many serious flaws, in addition to the billions it’s cost us due to poor policy and management over the years.

Their marketing tells us they’re open for business, their in-branch performance tell us they don’t actually want business – not from this branch anyway.  When I asked why I counted 9 staff (and they’re just the ones I saw, nobody was going to volunteer if there were others!) I was told that my complaint would be logged against my account number – why I wonder as I seriously don’t expect any follow-up, although if that miracle occurs I will update accordingly!

I’m also a customer of Ulster Bank (Malahide Road, Dublin 5) who as we all know encountered a major IT systems problem which lasted a number of weeks and created a lot of unhappy customers and bad feeling.  However, in spite of the difficulties they were working through their staff at a branch within a few minutes drive of the bank I encountered today were fantastic.  Their employees were plentiful and helpful, something which their competitors would do well to learn from.

It’s wonderful to see great customer service and Ulster Bank deserve credit for this.  In contrast it would be preferable for our Irish banks to stop spending our money and get their systems right and people trained before they spend more of our money on marketing that they’re open for business when quite clearly they’re barely capable of doing the minimum of work required to keep their current customers satisfied.

What can businesses learn from the above when it comes to marketing?  Small businesses don’t necessarily have the luxury of a marketing department, possibly not even a designated person within the company.  A large organisation however has these luxuries and can still get it badly wrong.  Learn to appreciate the people you have working for you, ensure the processes are working and be certain that if you do opt to promote your willingness to do business that your sales or front of house staff deliver the same message.

Don’t use valuable resources on marketing a business if the basics are not in place, would you like your customers to walk away feeling the same as I did today?


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