Tis the season…

Perhaps it’s the looming prospect of a few days break or maybe a few too many cups of eggnog at the Christmas party, but the banks’ proverbial sleighs really do seem to be a few reindeer short at the moment. Westpac’s banana smoothie video is an obvious case in point, but our video parody, Westpac Bank Bananas really says it all. With little more to add to the debate I decided to cast a wider net and look at what happens when the banks get a little carried away with their ideas on customer service.

I strolled down to a Westpac ATM and, upon instructing the machine to dispense my last $20, was greeted with an additional screen asking if I wanted the personal details of the bank manager. Partly intrigued and mostly bored, I wasted no time in pressing yes. I found out that the manager, Peta Cruickshank is, amongst other things, “pulling out all the stops”, “for blitzing fees” and is “dedicated to giving me fast answers”. In need of a fast answer as to what to buy my Dad for Christmas, I decided to call Peta on her mobile number. It went straight to: “you have reached the voice mailbox of ‘private number’. Beep”. She still hasn’t got back to me. Personal touch indeed.

It seems that this strive for customer service is rearing its ugly head at every turn. A friend who works for the financial services union told me that an unnamed bank’s renewed customer service push has seen quite a few complaints from staffers. Apparently the bank calls customers at random and asks them how the service was last time they were at the bank. If the rating is under 9/10, it impacts the staff member in question’s performance review. Here’s a particularly disturbing example: a customer was attempting to withdraw money and the ATM jammed so he had to go in to the branch to sort it out. The staff were very nice and helpful, but the customer gave the bank’s customer service a ‘0’ due to the ATM inconvenience. The helpful staff member got given a ‘0’ and a mark on her customer service record despite the incident being a result of a faulty machine. Don’t you just love it when the system works?

As an aside, would anyone else who’s seen the Commonwealth Bank’s most recent TV ad actually prefer their branch to have a basketball hoop instead of a customer service promise? Customer service should be a given and a basketball hoop would be a nice way to bide the time while the old woman in front of you counts change at the teller. Speaking of which, a male colleague of mine walked into a Commonwealth branch the other day, spoke to a young female teller and upon completing the transaction was asked to rate her out of ten. Cue awkward pause. He smiled, told her “11” and bemusedly strolled off.

Ratings out of 10? Mobile numbers? Perhaps these lonely bank managers are fostering some kind of dating scene at branch level. Christmas is a time to spend with people you love after all!

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Tis the season… was last modified: June 29, 2015 by Yash Murthy

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