Monday, 14 May 2007

Wasps in a jam jar

I was speaking at the Cards Middle East event yesterday, telling a small audience of bankers why it's not a smart idea to shake up your customers like wasps in a jam jar every time you talk to them or deal with them. How ironic, then, to get home and find that our Visa card hadn't been debited for the airline tickets that will transport us magically to the UK this summer. Well, at least we couldn't see it on the statement. But then two of our statements are missing and the bank has been failing to send us a fax of them for the past two weeks. So it might be in one of those. Or in the new one that hasn't come yet. Or somewhere.

So I call the call centre and get the usual buffoon. This time he starts the call by asking me security questions. I answer three of them, but by the fourth question it's all become too much for me.

"Hang on, pally. I've just entered my unique and hardly memorable ten digit personal banking number and my six digit personal banking security PIN code number identifier to get through here, so why are you asking me security questions?"
"What is your card limit sir?"
"I've told you my PO Box number, my date of birth and the name of the company that I work for. So why don't you answer my question?"
"What is your card limit sir?"
"I don't know. I don't care. Why are you asking me?"
"What is your card limit sir?"
"Are you seriously telling me you're going to deny me service if I don't answer you?"
"What is your card limit sir?"

I swear it's true.

We eventually get beyond this to the point where I get to ask about the missing transaction. Give him the date and value. Nope, he says. Absolutely not. Not there. No such transaction. Nothing for Emirates, nothing for that amount, nothing for that date.

Puzzled, I call Emirates who are, as usual, great. The woman explains (patiently, given that she's obviously talking to a twit) that you can't issue an e-ticket without the Visa transaction being validated and that yes, I hold two valid tickets to fly. I understand that, it's just that the bank swears the money hasn't come out. She's patient but insistent. Perhaps I might like to talk to my bank again?

Perhaps I might. I call them back. A long conversation. I point out that I hold the tickets so the transaction must have gone through. Besides, Sarah's reconciled the Visa card by now. The money must have been debited, although it's hard to be precise as there are so many missing transactions because of the statements we haven't got.

We're about an hour into the investigation by now and I'm reasonably wound up, teetering on the verge of an act of physical violence. The new drooling idiot in the call centre is still insisting that there is no transaction. I make him go over it time after time and then: "There's nothing there for that amount, Sir. Just two transactions on that day with Emirates each of which is for half the amount you have mentioned."
A pause, then I clearly hear him say, in a quiet voice, "Oh."

There's a long, murderous silence which I eventually broke. I shall spare you the rest, but it went something like this...

I've got a new idea for an advertisement for my bank to use. It's a picture of a customer, a picture of a call centre operator, a picture of a call centre operator and a picture of a customer, all side by side. Across them are the words 'Annoyed, Annoying, Annoying, Annoyed'.

I thought of some others, too, but they all use rude words. I'd be happy to share them if someone from the bank would like to give me a ring.


Banmks on roller skates said...

Another Dubai bank, of a not very good Standard, agreed a loan to a colleague for his rent.

Then they decided to charge him for insurance without asking him.

So his cheque for the rent bounced.

So they charged him for bouncing the cheque.

Jack said...

I once had a flight from UK to Cyprus return absolutely free because it was never charged to my credit card account.

Never one to miss a PR opportunity, see this customer research about call centres:

Global Consumer Study Reveals that Customer Service
Remains Critical to Profitability
UAE leads in Middle East Contact Centre growth at 16.3%
8 May 2007; Dubai, UAE:
A recent worldwide survey revealed that customer service is a critical driver of profitability and satisfaction, with more than 75 per cent of consumers saying they would give more business to a company based on a great contact centre experience. The reverse is also true with over 63 per cent of consumers saying the last time they stopped doing business with a company was partly or wholly due to a poor customer service experience.
The survey, commissioned by Genesys, the world’s leading provider of contact centre software, found that long hold times, poor automation and having to repeat information were the major causes of consumer frustration.
“The Middle East is a still in a growth phase as far as contact centres are concerned, so it is important for companies to realize how the consumer experience translates into increase market share or reduced market share,” said Lincoln Payne, Genesys Regional Manager for the Middle East.
A recent Datamonitor survey predicted the UAE would lead growth in the region with an average expansion up to 2009 of 16.3 per cent per annum in the number of service agents. Saudi Arabia followed with 11.2 per cent, 10.5 per cent in Oman, 7.1 per cent in Egypt and 6.1 % in Kuwait.
Lincoln Payne added that consumers increasingly want better multi-channel services, through SMS, email, and instant messaging, rather than just the phone. “The phone-only call centre is a thing of the past; customers want to use the multi-media channels of true contact centres.”
Email was favoured by 86 per cent of consumers with more than 45 per cent saying they would like it to become their primary communication vehicle. Speed of communication is critical, however, with 21 per cent expecting a one hour response time – up from 6 per cent in comparison to the survey’s findings in 2003. An additional 17 per cent of consumers expect an email response within 4 hours, and 47 per cent within 24 hours. In addition, 19 per cent would like web chat (instant messaging) and 17 per cent want SMS text messages.
Surprisingly, over 89 per cent of consumers would like to receive proactive communications from companies, by phone or text, to keep them informed about service delivery and/or other products and services that may be of interest to them. Proactive communications offer a way of creating a positive image with customers. According to the survey, 87 per cent of customers would have a more positive opinion of a supplier after receiving a courtesy call to thank them for their business or to ask about their satisfaction; however, only 43 percent have received such a call.

Is customer service getting better or worse? Despite the conventional wisdom of customer “no-service” as the norm, over 60 per cent of consumers see call centres as doing a better job than three years ago. An international survey of more than 4,300 consumers found that, despite some continued pockets of frustration, nearly a quarter of all consumers found their experience “significantly better,” and an additional 38 per cent felt it was “somewhat better” while only 12 per cent thought it was worse.
The Genesys solution range has been successful across the region with customers such as Emirates Airlines, Mobinil, National Bank of Dubai, Mashreqbank, Mobilecom Jordan and Al Rajhi Bank Saudi Arabia.


alexander said...

I can't believe Jack pasted a bloody press release into my blog.

The irony, the irony!!!!

Samer Marzouq said...

lol, it seems that HSBC sucks anywhere, it is so frustrating to deal with it.

And who is that guy who submitted a press release into a comment :D

alexander said...

LOL - That's the Evil Jack Pearce, Samer: Dubai's Grandfather of PR and someone who a) should know not to post press releases into blog comments - but then also b) knows that if there's a blog you could get away with doing it on then it would be...


...mine!!! :)

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