Tag Archives: bad service

“Old school” Customer Service

Well, following my last post I’m pleased to say that NatWest came good. I confess I adopted a ‘belt and braces’ approach and sent a letter to my branch with a copy of my blog post attached (old school).

Now maybe the snail mail chain will catch up and enlighten me as to who/how/when this was picked up but at least the issue is now resolved.

 

Do Customer Charters drive great Customer Service?

At the end of my last post, I suggested that Veolia Water should give NatWest Bank a lesson or two in Customer Service. It was meant to be a tongue-in-cheek sign-off, but it turns out I was right…

I’ve been a NatWest customer for many years and, until recently, have been very happy with the service they gave me.

I won’t bore you with the details here, but it’s that all-too-common sorry tale of:

• Bank takes charge for something they shouldn’t

• Customer notices, and contacts Bank (17th December 2010)

• Bank says they’ll get straight onto it, so the charge won’t hit my account

• Charge hits customer’s account (29th December)

• Customer contacts bank on 31st December. Is told refund will be in account by 12th January 2011.

• Nothing happens. Customer calls Bank and is told that Bank has escalated it to their Card Services team, but they will ‘monitor daily’, whatever that means.

• As at today (30th January) still no refund, and still no sign of it…

Now I know that this isn’t exactly headline-grabbing stuff here. Most people reading this will have their own (and probably far worse) version of this chain of events. Having spent the last ten years working in banks, I have seen first hand how internal systems and broken processes can sometimes stop the good people in branches and service centres from delivering great service.

So, I turned to the NatWest Customer Charter (http://tinyurl.com/6a2anbz) to find out more about their mission to become “Britain’s most helpful bank”.

It tells us in committment 14…” We will actively seek your thoughts and suggestions on how we can become more helpful. We will launch a new Customer Listening Programme to ensure our staff, including Executives, can hear first hand about the needs and frustrations of our customers.”

All to often, there is a huge gap between the promises of Customer Charters and the reality of day to day service delivery. I have two suggestions that would help avoid the tale of woe above for many customers like me:

1) Give your people the tools and systems to break down internal barriers to great customer service. In my experience with Veolia Water, every single person I spoke to had a record of my previous conversation and actions arising. I have spoken to three different people in NatWest and still my problem isn’t resolved.

2) Empower local office and call centre staff to resolve complaints at the first point of call. Whether NatWest Card Services or NatWest Bank gives me back my £48 isn’t that important to me. Sort it out, refund me and do the internal paperwork afterwards.

I’m not sure if NatWest will reach its goal to become “Britain’s most Helpful Bank”, or how it’ll even know if it does. I just hope that someone, somewhere really is listening.

Excellent customer service alive and well in….Utilities?!

If you’re anything like me, when you need to contact a utilities company, your heart sinks. Expectations are low from the outset. You need to prepare…

  • You take deep breaths as your eyes search for the customer services number
  • “Flashbacks” to previous encounters of a hold queue that took 37 hours to escape still haunt you as you pick up the phone
  • Your fingers shaking now, you try to remember the combination of buttons you need to press to speak to a human being within 23 minutes (normally 1,3,4,4,3,2,3,3,#,@,5,5,3,6)

Ahem, maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, Veolia Water have gobsmacked me over the last few weeks with their proactivity, efficiency and service (3 words you don’t normally associate with Utilities):

Proactivity: Upon noticing our water usage was rising, and had been for the last year or so, they phoned us to ask if we’d been using more water, or if there was any more people living in the house as (it turned out our toilet was sporadically leaking water like a running tap).

Efficiency: They suggested we could apply to be considered for a Leak Allowance, as our bill was HUGE. They explained the process and sent the forms which arrived next day. Every subsequent contact was painless, with well trained people on the end of the line who had access to up to the minute information about who I last spoke to, and the status of our enquiry.

Service: The people I dealt with were friendly, competent and gave me reassurance that our discussions would be acted upon. I had confidence. In a utilities company! The happy ending is that we got a refund on some of the lost water and the money was in my bank account the day after I received the letter!

Well done Veolia Water. You have one extremely satisfied customer. Any chance you can speak to my Bank now and show them how it’s supposed to be done?