Thursday, 26 January 2012

How To Upset Your Customers

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I'm not sure I am aware of any organisation that is quite so skilled at ineptitude of the highest order as my bank, HSBC Middle East. As I have had reason to remark before, I cannot think of one aspect of personal banking that has not at some stage caused me problems, been mishandled or generally failed to deliver as promised. This is not generally considered to be a good thing.

You can search the blog for 'bank' if you want to steep yourself in the most recent five years of blthering idiocy, but it's been something like 18 years in total now since I first walked into the British Bank of the Middle East and admired the two gun-wielding bedouin guards at the door.

These days, I try and avoid going to the branch at all costs. It makes me physically angry even to walk in. (So please do take my remarks with a pinch of salt, I am not my usual calm and Zen-like self when it comes to issues related to banking.)

It's one reason why telephone and Internet banking has been such a Godsend. The vast majority of transactions can take place in a nice, automated phone call or browsing session. I actually only use phone banking because I can't remember all the passwords, PINs, forgettable questions etc. And even then, HSBC asks that you remember (and key in) your 10 digit personal banking number or your 12 digit bank account number, your date of birth, your six digit personal identity number and the average velocity of an African swallow.*

Now they've found a new way to get to me. They have started playing an advertisement for some financial service or another to their customers when they call up to use phone banking. The advert not only drones on in English, but is then repeated in Arabic. While.we.wait.

You can only imagine what kind of drooling nincompoop would have thought that interrupting customers using a service that's part of a service package they are paying for (and we pay plenty) and rendering them helpless to do anything other than wait out the interruption would be a good idea. It's frustrating, irritating and annoying. It clearly demonstrates the bank has nothing but disrespect for its customers, their time and their convenience. And it's clearly symptomatic of a failure to understand the nature and role of corporate communications at the most fundamental level.

Irritating and inconveniencing your customers is not smart marketing. It just shows your contempt for them.
 * Okay, so I made the last one up.
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Carrington said...

And even more annoying...

- waiting through HSBC's phone banking advertising in English and Arabic, then the long list of options that aim to divert you from speaking to a customer service agent denying that any non-standard request that doesn't have a number should even exist

- and then have the agent that you managed to speak to tell you that, although the system recognised your mobile number and you've already entered your PIN number correctly, the system hasn't given the agent any ID for you at all and so you then have to answer four more verification questions before your request can be handled

- your request being to know why you received a missed call from HSBC in the first place

- and, of course, HSBC's answer being 'I don't know, we can't tell from the system'!

Really sets one up for the weekend!

Duffy said...

African or European swallow?

David said...

To add insult to injury, the calls cost you money - so you pay to hear the adverts and to go through the endless questions. Shame on HSBC.

Keef said...

Yepp, nincompoopery of the highest order. I am so glad I don't have to deal with them any more. The worst thing for me was their internet banking, and especially the bit of that related to wire transfers - absolute garbage. Do they care? Clearly not.

Susan Kaiser said...

Just curious, why are you still banking with them?

Alexander said...

Susan - because I constantly get told everyone else is just as bad. My one attempt to move, to Lloyds UAE (Which is now closing anyway) was messed up by them so badly I reasoned if they couldn't even open an account competently they certainly wouldn't be able to run one properly.

So I stay where I am and hope for change...

Ghuntar said...

And not being able to withdraw money in 80% of the countries I visit

And automated enrollment in credit insurance

And annual fees on my free for life credit card

And a lack of Mutual fund investment update

And an agent who does not understand "Money Order" or "Bank Draft"

And not even being allowed to withdraw money from HSBC Canada because apparently that one is an "independent entity" from HSBC Worldwide

And having my account frozen because I made an international purchase despite telling them that I am travelling.

And because they had a collection agency in India call me up to threaten me to pay up my credit card bill (2 Dhs worth) due to an error in their system

And making 16,000 Pounds Sterling disappear over night in a holding account,,, yeah, me too, WTF

And a sales agent trying to convince me that my 9% personal loan is actually only 4% FLAT rate. Which is illegal by the way.

I hate this bank beyond what that word can adequately do justice.

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